Archive for Travel

Backyard Adventures: Squamish

Well, if there was ever a year for staycations, 2020 is it.

I had so many plans for this summer! The last time I wrote a cookbook, it bought me a trip to Europe, and I was hoping this summer might hold the same (Portugal/Spain/Italy are next on my list). Then I thought maybe Michael and I might drive down the Oregon Coast to California, as it’s been 4 years since we last did that. When all of that went up in flames (due to this tiny worldwide pandemic we’re experiencing), I thought maybe we’d take the opportunity to head up to the Okanagan, as it had been a couple of years since we’d done that.

Yah, no.

Over the last 6 weeks, since I finished school, I have slept in my own bed every single night except for one. That’s the reality of 2020.

We have tried to get out and see stuff nearby. Basically, anything within an hour or two drive is fair game.

sea to sky gondola

The Sea to Sky Gondola

Squamish is a great option for a daytrip/staycation. First off, it’s just a few minutes up the Sea-to-Sky highway. From my door, it takes me all of half a hour (assuming there’s no traffic on the bridge). And the drive up there feels like a vacation. There are mountains, ocean, panoramas. It’s really worth it!

Once you’re there, this tiny little spot is packed with loads of fun things to do.

By the way, if you’re itching to make your staycation an actual overnight, the Executive Suites in Squamish is the place to book. It backs onto a golf course, so the views are wonderful. They have a fabulous pool and hot tub, as well as a full kitchen in each room, so you don’t have to go out to restaurants, and can just stay with your own pod.

What to do in Squamish:

Shannon Falls. You can’t even really call it a hike. It’s more like an easy, 5-minute stroll from the parking lot to Shannon Falls, a majestic, beautiful waterfall that is worth taking in. The path is mostly paved and very accessible for strollers, wheelchairs, or those who find hiking challenging. There are certainly other hikes you can take from here as well for those who are more sporty.Shannon Falls

Sea To Sky Gondola: I honestly cannot recommend this enough. I’ve been a couple of times this year, and it’s just so lovely. Park your car and grab a gondola up to the top. It’s a 15-minute ride, and the views are just spectacular. The views at your destination are maybe even more spectacular! Howe Sound, Squamish, The Chief, it’s all there. There are also lots of trails here that you can hike; again there are lots that are easy and there are some harder ones, as well, based on your comfort level. But the views! The views! Did I mention the views? I also want to say that I was super impressed with their COVID protocols. If you’ve never done it, you really should, it’s so worth it.

For kids: Britannia Mining Museum and The West Coast Heritage Railway Park are fun, historical, and engaging. Do you/your kids like Eagles? Squamish is home to one of North America’s largest populations, though this is more so in the winter than in the summer.

Squamish Farmer’s Market: it runs every Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm, and there are COVID protocols in place. You should be prepared to wait in a line to get in. It is a lovely market, though it’s a little less populated with vendors this year than in the past because of social distancing. My favourite? Aguas Fresca Whistler (try the horchata).

Island Oasis

Iced coffee at The Island Oasis

Where to eat in Squamish

Okay, no staycation is complete without trying new food, amIrite?

Howe Sound Brewpub: They have a huge outdoor patio, so this is a great choice. Family-friendly, they serve traditional (awesome) pub food, pizzas and beer brewed right on the premises. You might as well take a grower to go, right?

Sushi Sen: A tiny little sushi joint just off the highway. They have a patio and create gorgeous, fresh Japanese food.

The Island Oasis: a brand new, all-vegan foodtruck (it’s a trailer, technically) has just set up shop this year at the London Drugs. The owner sells frozen treats to cool you down, from iced coffees and teas to mocktails to some pretty creative shaved ice flavours.

Sunny Chibas

The tasty, tasty tacos at Sunny Chibas.

Sunny Chibas: it’s the weirdest place, but they have the best food. Sunny Chibas is in an old Taco Bell location on Highway 99, and it’s 100% worth the drive. They sell freshly-made, super tasty Mexican fare. They have super-strict COVID protocols and loads of outdoor seating, as well as tasty vegan and vegetarian options.

So, realistically speaking, has the pandemic put a crimp in our summer? Sure. However, if you gotta be stuck somewhere, this place is pretty great.

Have you been out exploring your backyard this summer? Comment below and let me know where you’ve been!

 

Plum Tartine

Exactly this time three years ago, I was in London, and by coincidence, my friend Shae from Vancouver was flying into London from Portugal that day. We met up at restaurant near Victoria Station so I could quickly jump on my train back to Brighton where I was staying.

That night, I ordered a Tartine.

Tartine

My London Tartine: base of beet hummus with sauteed veg and finished with boccinci

Had I ever had a Tartine before? I don’t know. Maybe. Or I had, but I didn’t know that’s what it was called.

A tartine is, simply put, an open-faced sandwich (can it even be a sandwich if it’s not two pieces of bread??!?). They’re pretty popular in Euorope, especially France, which is where they come from, and tend to be eaten with a fork and knife.

The basis of any good tartine is to use really good bread, and then you pile on a bunch of stuff that has a mix of textures and flavours. Many come with an egg for added protein.

I recently went to the farmer’s market and came home with peak summer produce; fresh, locally-grown corn, and Okanagan peaches, plums and apples. I looked at those beautiful, purple, juicy, fat plums and knew exactly what I was going to do with them: tartine.

This is one of those posts that’s less recipe, and more template.

Here’s how to build the perfect tartine:¬†

  • As I already said, you need good bread. Here, I used my own homemade sourdough, but if you’re not a quarantine baker and you live in Vancouver, I’d recommend Livia or Flourist for a good, sturdy loaf of crusty artisan bread. Also, you’re going to want to toast it. This gives it even more sturdiness, and it also adds to the texture of the dish. Feel free to drizzle it with a little olive oil and toast it in a pan, even, for some sexy grill marks. You could also do this on the BBQ.
  • Your base layer should be something that will anchor the rest of the ingredients that are going on top. I like to use cream cheese, a savoury herbed one if possible, a goat’s cheese (again herbed would be pretty bomb here), or ricotta. If you’re vegan, hummus or mashed avocado is a great base for your tartine. You’ll want to spread a nice, thick layer.
  • Next up, the main players: in this case, it’s thinly-sliced plums, but you could use almost any fruit or vegetable here. Thinly-sliced zucchini or cucumbers, dressed with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper would be amazing. Saut√©ed mushrooms with garlic? Oh yeah. Fresh, vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes? Orgasmic.
  • Now you want to think about sauces and dressings. My automatic go-to is balsamic reduction and a drizzle of good olive oil.
  • Garnish: a bit of peppery arugula tossed in a bit of olive oil would make a lovely topping. You could also go with microgreens, herbs, or edible flowers on top. Another potential garnish would be something to give your tartine an extra textural element, like seeds or nuts, something crispy.

That’s it! Let your taste buds be your guide, and play around with this great summer meal that has about a million different variations! I also need to add that this is the perfect dish to cook right now because it requires very little actual cooking, and let’s face it, it’s too hot to turn the oven or stove on.

Plum Tartine

Plum Tartine

Here’s my Plum Tartine:

  1. Thick slice of sourdough bread, toasted
  2. Layer of herbed cream cheese
  3. Layer of thinly-sliced plums
  4. Balsamic, olive oil, flaky salt
  5. Thyme leaves and blossoms

The ultimate tartine is all about the play of textures and flavours. Here, the creamy, slightly acidic cheese plays off of the sweet, juicy fruit. Then you have the crisp of the toasted bread and the sweet/acid of the balsamic reduction. It’s the perfect summer bite!

PS. If you want to try tartine in Vancouver, I recommend Ubuntu Canteen.

 

 

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