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One of our favourite restaurants in Burlington is one we’ve come back to several times. It’s comfortable, the service is friendly and helpful, the menu is always full of interesting and enticing things from the region, and there’s plenty of outdoor seating when the weather is nice. At this particular time, the street air smelled like wonderful tree flowers. This time, we deliberately drove about half and hour out of our way on our way back to Canada to stop by the restaurant, and then waited around for an hour until it opened for brunch at 11am. It was worth it.

On the warm summer afternoon, we savoured our ice teas, which tasted brewed rather than from a fountain. After agonizing over the delicious menu, I decided upon a simple bowl of chili with some extra cheddar. It was a little spicy, full of ingredients, and just as flavourful as I could have wanted. I tasted my husband’s cup of cheddar and beer soup, which was also good. For dessert, I got what sounded like a homemade strawberry and rhubarb crumble, and ended being a thick-crusted, cold almost store-bought-like pie. I still ate it, and all the ice cream, though.

Reservations are recommended for both lunch and dinner and the place can get pretty crowded. Once, we waited for an hour in their downstairs pub for a dinner seat.

160 Bank St  Burlington, VT 05401, United States

Last week, my family took a vacation to Monkton, VT. I didn’t take a lot of pictures, sorry.

I love driving to Vermont. It’s only 2-2 1/2 hours away from Montreal and once you get close to the border you can roll down your windows and inhale deeply. The air is fresh and natural and smells like nature and trees and grass. But…the little mosquitoes will eat you alive, so pack bug spray.

Monkton was nice and quiet. My brother rented a cabin on a lake where there was fishing – apparently, a kid had once caught a 35-lb. catfish there…my nieces and nephew got minnows and a turtle – and canoeing. A huge beaver was also spotted swimming around the lake. Every morning, a flock of Canadian geese (which, by the way, I have not yet seen in Canada) descended upon the back lawn by the water, and we were awakened by the twittering of a dozen varieties of little birds feasting on nearby bird feeders. The weather was perfect and idyllic for the 2 nights and 1 day we were there. It felt just like those wilderness lake vacations from the Calvin and Hobbes comics.

For the day, we drove out to Waterbury to tour first the Green Mountain Coffee visitor’s center, then the ice cream factory. The coffee depot, on a working train line, was a disappointment despite its free samples. And actually, due to my heightened sensitivity because of medication I’m taking, I had to excuse myself and sit on a bench outside for the duration of the visit; fermented, roasted coffee fumes. I don’t drink much coffee, anyway.

The Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory was nearby and was kind of small, and half of the tour was taken up by a video. The other half was spent viewing the inner pipes of the factory as they processed and boxed pints of ice cream. Then we got a rather generous free sample of milk and cookies ice cream. The kids were able to get seconds. Of course, then we ate lunch. And did spin art.

The last activity on the agenda was a hike through one of the state parks. We consulted with a park guide on advice for where to go. We chose the shortest, easiest trail since we had small kids with us and I made it clear that I was not up for anything more rigorous than a normal walking pace. I had to be firm about that because my mom can walk us all into the ground like a drill sergeant. Plus, it’s the middle of summer.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????This photo doesn’t really capture the sheer drop from the trail into the falls, which was impressive. The hike length was just right for me, though one part was quite steep and required careful foot placement around exposed tree roots next to a sheer drop. After the hike, the kids waded into the river to cool off.

Then we barbecued. Sirloin tips, whole potatoes, corn on the cob, and some really burned zucchini.

The next day, we all departed separately. My husband and I detoured to Burlington, which smelled wonderfully of tree flowers, where we ate at our favourite restaurant there (reviewed separately). And then drove back through the border…where we got permanent residency!

All-in-all, it was a productive weekend.

???????????????????????????????Americans often express surprise when I tell them how hot summer is in Montreal, as if the entire country of Canada is a solid block of ice year-round. My NJ relatives don’t understand that it gets up to the low 30s C and that many of the Montreal buildings are old and don’t have air conditioning. Including my office. And my apartment.

One of the brilliant Korean summer dishes is naeung myun, a cold noodle soup served with an icy broth. On a sweltering day, this meal is sooooo refreshing and not too hard to make.

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???????????????????????????????I like salmon. We like salmon. And we can always find fresh salmon at the public market (the fishmonger at Atwater is my favourite).

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???????????????????????????????I haven’t been posting because, frankly, I haven’t been eating much. My doctor upped a prescription I was taking, which robbed me not only of energy and strength (had to nap twice a day and when not at work, spent the rest of my time in bed), but also lost my appetite, made me hypersensitive to food odours, and left me feeling oh so unwell for over a month. But fortunately, I seem to be adjusting to the damned pills (FINALLY!), and am back to eating and of course cooking as per usual.

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It’s been a long time since I’ve made steak. One of my favourite recipes is steak au poivre, which I found a long time ago in the now defunct Gourmet magazine while visiting my parents-in-law for Christmas. It’s a great recipe. Not many ingredients, not difficult. Tastes awesome.

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I love uni, and when I saw a couple itty bitty sea urchins at the Jean Talon market, I got them, thinking to use them as a side dish for some sous-vide salmon. But as it turns out, my husband does not like uni, so I saved them for myself for breakfast. Which just happened to be ramen. Not exactly the best of beds for the sea urchin, but I ate them all first, anyway, so it was all good.

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