Tag Archive: Canada


I love to travel, and frequently travel through the terminal at Winnipeg’s James Armstrong Richardson International Airport. What a joy it was, when on October 30th, a new state-of-the-art terminal was finally opened to the public after  more than four years in the making.

an evening shot of the new airport terminal courtesy of Winnipeg Airports Authority

A joint effort of US-based Master architect, Pelli Clarke Pelli, who have also been responsible for various world class designs including the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur and the World Financial Center in New York, and our own local architectural firm of Stantec, Winnipeg’s new terminal is proudly the newest and greenest of all airports in Canada.

nice shot of the awesome lights in the terminal courtesy of Winnipeg Airports Authority

A nice high for Winnipeg to enjoy. Combined with the recent return of the Winnipeg Jets pro hockey team, and the fact that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers won the Eastern final in the Canadian Football League game today — getting them into the Grey Cup championship game next weekend — the Manitoba capital is really enjoying a much-needed resurgence.

Many of you reading this may have never been to Winnipeg and are likely wondering, why visit this frozen wasteland? It’s true. We have winter for five months of the year (generally from early November through March) during which we time we have snow and below freezing temperatures.

But I must tell you, Winnipeg is a warm place to come at any time of the year. People are caring and friendly. They welcome you into their lives and their homes. I have friends who have lived in larger cities for many years and have yet to make any close friends. That just doesn’t happen in Manitoba. If you’re here and you’re friendly … you’re family, and are welcome into our homes and to share our hopes and dreams.

Can those of you living in larger centres say that? I was born and raised in Winnipeg, and have lived all of my life within an hour’s drive of the city.  We have our problems with respect to crime and that’s part of the reason I have chosen to live in smaller communities in rural Manitoba the past (near) 30 years. But overall, it is a clean, inviting urban landscape that offers unsurpassed cultural options, a thriving creative community, affordable cost of living and stable economy that makes all of us who know it, love it.

Please come and see us. If you come before April 1st, bring your parka and boots. Be rest assured, the warmth we extend your way will nurture your spirit and make you wonder why it took you so long to finally make the journey. But our long stretch of winter weather does make me wonder why they didn’t enclose the walkway from the parkade to the terminal. No matter how warm you are inside, the blowing winds outside can quickly chill your enthusiasm.

Please join us back here the week of December 5th, when I’ll share a bit of Missouri magic with you. Until then, please share your favourite Manitoba moments with us.

Advertisements

Thanks to everyone for sharing your favourite thoughts and highlights of Montreal. If you haven’t visited the site since the last post was uploaded, please take a moment to check out everyone’s contributions in the “Comments” tab at the beginning of the last post.

This week, as promised, I’d like to focus on the sweeter side of Montreal, the city where Chocolatour  was officially launched back in October of 2009.

There are a plethora of excellent chocolate bistros around the city that not only offer a tempting selection of handmade fresh chocolates to take home, they serve sensuous chocolate creations that can be the main focus of your meal or the perfect ending by way of a make-you-squeal dessert.

I really enjoyed lunch at Juliette & Chocolat located at 377 Laurier Ouest. The atmosphere is perfect for lunch with the girls, and the menu offers some really unique offerings such as the chocolate salad! The Juliette & Chocolat Salad is served with seasonal fruit, and goat cheese with buckwheat crepe slices, topped with a chocolate raspberry vinaigrette. Delicious!

the Juliette & Chocolat Salad comes with a special chocolate raspberry vinaigrette

Juliette & Chocolat is also famous for its drinking chocolate, offering an exotic list of chocolate origins to choose from. This picture of a friend enjoying her drinking chocolate tells the story of complete satisfaction.

savouring one of the amazing drinking chocolates at Juliette et Chocolat

The chocolate selection is lovely, too, and take time to peruse the “Chocolate Bars” on the menu which provide interesting tidbits about chocolate and cocoa around the world. This is truly a place for chocolate lovers!

the selection of fresh chocolates at Juliette et Chocolat is tempting and creative

I also enjoyed chatting with chocolatier, Marlain Jean Philippe, owner of Marlain Chocolatier, located at 21 Cartier in Pointe Claire, a suburb of Montreal. The small shop is located in a historic house and don’t be surprised if you’re welcomed by the ear-to-ear smile of the proprietor when you walk in the door. He is French-trained (in Paris) and carries the designation of Maitre Chocolatier-Confiseur, so you know that he knows his chocolate!  I absolutely loved the Obama chocolates made from soft nougat, pineapple, ginger, coffee beans, almonds and the finest dark chocolate. They had an amazing flavour and texture that I shall always remember.

Marlain Jean Philippe is the creative force behind Marlain Chocolatier

And Marlain doesn’t stop at edible chocolate! He offers an assortment of cocoa-based creams and cosmetics to make your body as smooth and silky as the delectable chocolate he’ll box for you to take home and savour.

There are many other exquisite chocolate shops in Montreal. What are some of your favourites?

Please join us back here the week of September 12th, when we’ll enjoy more taste-tempting travels.

Montreal has an important place in my heart as it is the place where the research for my book, Chocolatour, was officially launched! Fellow chocolate lover, Kathe Lieber of Montreal, accompanied me on the first overseas chocolate research trip back in October, 2009. Hard to believe it’s nearly been two years of chocolate tasting that has gotten me to this point!

But before we boarded the big bird and flew to Brussels, Kathe took me on a journey of chocolate discovery in Montreal. I’ll share some of our findings in the next post on this blog. For now, I’d like to focus on the city itself, as Montreal is such an amazing metropolis that as sweet as it is, chocolate will have to wait its turn for our attention.

Being a travel writer has its perks and privileges. It also instils some wonderful habits that come in handy. I looked thru my mini-notebooks that diarize my travels and found the one dated May 26-June 3, 2001. It had been exactly 10 years since my last visit of any length had been to this great city!

At that time, I had the great privilege of staying at two terrific hotels, one so very different than the other. The two properties personify the two distinct personalities of Montreal: the modern, chic French-speaking metropolis of North America, and the charming “Old Montreal” where you’ll find numerous reminders of the four centuries that make up the city’s rich and colourful history.

City Hall in Old Montreal is a landmark and well-maintained

The Hotel Le Germain on Mansfield, is situated in downtown Montreal, a close walk to the bustling shopping street of St. Catherine and to McGill University. If you are looking for a chic boutique hotel with impeccable service, this is the place to stay.

We also enjoyed being the guests of suite 501 in the beautiful historic, Auberge Bonaparte, a lovely room with an outdoor terrace complete with fresh flowers. What a romantic place to have spent our 6th wedding anniversary! And what a location. If you’re looking to stay and play in the heart of Old Montreal, the Auberge is a terrific choice.

Rue St-Francois Xavier in Old Montreal is home to the Auberge hotel & restaurant, as well as a terrific museum.

On my trip in June of this year, I stayed at the Residence Inn, a Marriott property offering reasonable rates and a convenient location to Concordia University, where the PWAC conference was being held. It’s not as luxurious as the other properties I’ve cited, but it has spacious rooms with full kitchen facilities and is perfect for lengthier, or more informal stays.

Writing this post has made me realize that I must get my beautiful slides from the late 1990’s and early 2000’s put onto disk. Right now, they’re in boxes in the garage just waiting for me.

Please join me here again the week of August 29th, when we’ll look at the sweeter side of Montreal. Until then, please share your comments about your favourite place(s) to stay in Montreal. As well as other things you love about the city.

And if you’re looking for more information on this remarkable city, visit Tourisme Montreal where you’ll see a totally cool video.

I know. I was supposed to be heading to Montreal for the next post. But it’s just so darned beautiful right now in Manitoba, and there are so many amazing things going on that I thought I’d treat you to one more round of local bragging. I hope you’ll indulge me, and join in with a comment celebrating your own favourite Manitoba place, memory or summer event. After all, as Travel Manitoba would say … “It’s Manitoba Time!”

the re-enactors of Vikings Vinland demonstrate battle techniques

We visited the Icelandic Festival in Gimli on the weekend and were fortunate to have timed our visit to see the battle re-enactment performed by members of Vikings Vinland, a troop of  re-enactors from all over North America. It was awesome! We also enjoyed a Goldeyes baseball game in Winnipeg.

But what really inspired me to write this post was the amazing culinary talent we have right here in the Interlake. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending High Tea at the Fat Cat Bistro (located just north of Camp Morton on Hwy 222.) It’s held every Tuesday from 2-4 pm and is a delight for just $13. We started with a plate of giant pinwheel sandwiches, followed by a course of hot appetizers. I loved the giant Japanese mussels made in a sauce of tomatoes and peppers. The mushroom puffs were also terrific and light. And a crostini featuring local Goldeye fish finished off the middle course with a lovely fresh flavour.

The dessert course consisted of a plate of cheeses and fresh fruits alongside a plate of dainties. And yes, there was chocolate! The chocolate coconut brownies were soft, chewy and really quite decadent.

My friend couldn’t eat nuts, so was made a special pavlova (which was dressed right at our table by John, partner of Karen Nielsen, our talented chef.)

John preparing a lovely pavlova at our table

Although the High Tea was not traditional in the sense that there were no scones with clotted cream, it was delightful in every way. I’m told by Chef Karen that she does make scones on occasion and changes the menu every week to keep her scores of regular customers happy and coming back each week or every second week to see what she has in store.

Today, we visited Fat Cat for breakfast. I’d been there once previously for dinner, but had not (until today) had the pleasure of enjoying one of their tasty breakfasts. As I’m watching my calorie count these days (the two years of intense chocolate tasting has finally caught up with me!) I ordered a simple breakfast of two poached eggs and sausages with multi-grain toast and sliced tomatoes. Include your coffee or tea and you’ve got an amazing breakfast for $5!

My male companions were not as concerned with their waistlines and ordered much more elaborately. Roy had the omelette, asking Chef Karen to create something unique for him. And that she did! His fluffy omelette was stuffed with goat’s cheese and local Saskatoon berries. A bit heavy for me, but Roy loved it!

My husband, Reg, ordered the authentic Icelandic pancakes (Karen is a local girl of Icelandic heritage) stuffed with seasonal berries and topped with fresh whipping cream. Wow! That was truly amazing, and something that I would order on a return visit.

Fat Cat's Icelandic pancakes

Fat Cat Bistro is becoming a local favourite with discerning diners of the Interlake. That, along with Mask Mediterranean Restaurant of Gimli are boasting internationally trained chefs who love the Interlake region and are hoping to tantalize diners’ taste buds beyond the (pickerel) fish and chips (french fries) that have become the flagship meal of many area restaurants.

Let’s talk. Tell me about your favourite hangout, event or memory from YOUR most coveted Manitoba time.

Please note there will be a special “Blog Jog Day” post on this blog on Sunday, August 7th, as I once again participate in an event that helps fellow bloggers expand their audiences. And we’ll be back the week of August 15th, when we will finally explore the virtues — and chocolate — of Montreal.

Thanks to all for sharing the journey to London with us and our discovery of the Chocolate Revolution in the UK. I could go on about it, but will save that for the print version of Chocolatour, where your chocolate experience will be greatly enhanced.

It’s time to head back across the pond and I invite you to join me on a diversion in my own backyard. You won’t find fine chocolate at the Gimli Film Festival (GFF), but you will find an amazing array of more than 120 films to nurture your spirit, entertain, educate and challenge you.

Last year I was privileged to attend the Opening Reception in celebration of the festival’s 10th year of operation, and stayed for the beach screening of the Weakerthans documentary. I can’t believe it took me 10 years to get to this amazing event!

This year, I plan on attending the afternoon screening of a documentary on El Bulli, said by many to be the world’s best restaurant. I missed the opportunity to visit this landmark eating establishment last year when I was in Barcelona. It’s located 177 kilometres from Barcelona airport, but we just didn’t have the time to make the journey.

Now I hear that El Bulli is closing, and will reopen as a new entity. We’ll see what master 3-star chef, Ferran Adria will come up with! Either way, it will be fascinating to watch the documentary of how this culinary mastermind works. I’m sure all mouths in the room will be watering as we watch a film documenting his sources of inspiration.

the setting for beach screenings at the Gimli Film Fest includes an 11-metre movie screen suspended above the waters of Lake Winnipeg

I’m also looking forward to the beach screening of Barney’s Version on Friday, July 22nd. As I recently returned from Montreal, it will be lovely to watch this movie based on Mordecai Richler’s prize-winning comic novel of the same name. The film won 7 Genie Awards and is said to show off Montreal most beautifully.

Something new that has been added this year is live music on the red dock by the beach screen at 8:30 pm before the 10 pm movie screenings. Looking forward to that!

And the GFF also offers free transportation from Winnipeg for festival goers with an “All Access Pass.” The GFF shuttle service is available to all others for a fee of $10 return trip. You can’t beat that!

So please join us in Gimli from July 20-24th for the 11th Gimli Film Fest. You’ll be glad you did! There are 3 indoor venues in addition to the beach venue. And something to please the palate of absolutely any film buff.

We’d love to hear your best GFF memories, or any experiences you may have had at other film festivals around the world. Please share your thoughts, and join us back here the week of August 2nd, when we’ll talk Montreal.

This blog usually takes us to exotic locales in search of chocolate and other delectables. But this post, I’d like to salute my own home turf in honour of  Manitoba Day. I was born and raised here. It is my home, and I’m proud of its many attributes.

Last summer my husband and I toured our area, taking in many exciting festivals and events. I wrote about them on my lifestyle blog but will recap the highlights here for those of you who may be curious about what there is to do in Manitoba’s Interlake region.

the beautiful beach at Camp Morton

In the Aug 23/10 post, I took you to Camp Morton, a stunning beach on Lake Winnipeg just north of Gimli. This beautiful picture of the beach inspires me on days (like today) when my energy level is on the low side and the air pressure is correspondingly low because of the dreadful weather we’ve been having this month. I know it will soon pass and we’ll once again be strolling along the shores of Lake Winnipeg talking to the shore birds and feeling the misted breeze on our faces.

In the Aug 9/10 post, I introduced you to the re-enactors who live like Vikings for the first week of August each year as part of Gimli’s Icelandic Festival. Who wouldn’t be smitten by a smile from this face?

the blacksmith in the Viking Village

In the July 22/10 post, we visited Hecla Island and the Gimli Film Festival. Hecla is a terrific place to explore nature, and although the Hecla Oasis Resort has come into financial difficulties and suspended operations, the campground and golf course are open for your pleasure. And be sure to mark your calendars and take in the Gimli Film Fest which runs July 20-24 this year.

In the March 29/10 post, we visited Chatfield, Manitoba, a rather out-of-the-way community in Manitoba’s Interlake region that surprisingly came up in conversation at a function I attended this week. Out of 4 people in the discussion, 2 had a connection with Chatfield! They certainly have a terrific museum for anyone interested in country memorabilia.

And with Winnipeg being my hometown, we can’t talk about Manitoba without tipping our hats to the province’s capital city. Check out my Feb 27/09 post to see some of my favourite things about Winnipeg.

A shocking survey by Peak of the Market suggested that most Manitobans don’t even know that May 12th is Manitoba Day. I hope this post will help change that, and that many of us will plan to discover or revisit some special places in this province over the summer to remind us just how lucky we are to live here – despite the challenges of the crazy spring weather.

My heart goes out to our fellow Manitobans in the Westman region who are facing a breach of the dike today. A crisis which do doubt has literally put a damper on any celebrations in the western part of the province.

But we look forward with hope. Please share your thoughts on a Manitoba gem you enjoy, or what you like best about Manitoba.

Look for the next post here during the week of May 23rd, when I’ll be preparing for a trip to Toronto. And yes, there will be chocolate.

%d bloggers like this: