Friday, April 23, 2010

California Dreaming!

Hola Bloggies:

So this here is a blog post I’m SUPER excited to share with you – but you’ll have to read on to find out why! Winking

Now I don’t know if you bloggies have had the opportunity to visit California (if you’re super luck you may even live there) but there are some very cool things to see.


California has Disneyland and California Adventure . . .


California has the Santa Monica Pier . . .

california orange

California has lovely oranges that fall just outside of property lines so Canadians like me can take them on their way home (true story) . . .

Karen and giant sequoia

California has absolutely massive Sequoia trees . . .


California has the brilliant Walt Disney Concert Hall . . .


California has the wonderful (and free!) Getty Villa . . .

LBC Marathon

But more importantly for today’s purposes . . . . . . . . .

California has the Long Beach Marathon!!!! And yours truly will be running the half!!! EEEEEK!!!!!!

You know who else will be there for the Marathon?

Danica (Chic Runner)

Aron (Runner’s Rambles)

Maritza (Marathon Maritza)

Tara (On the GO!)

Kristin (Keeping up with Kristin)

and Nicole (Runner Nic)!!!!

To say that I’m ridiculously excited is a massive under statement!!! I’m also, frankly, nervous at the same time! Happy

So there you have it bloggies – come October 17th, 2010, I’ll be racing it up in Long Beach! Woot woot! Bring it!


PS: Anybody else want to join us?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

La Vie en Rose

Bonsoir Bloggies:

I have decided to start occasionally writing a series of posts that let you know a bit more about me. Sure, you currently know I’m a wannabe runner, I like to work out, I like to eat healthy, and I obviously love to travel. But that’s about it! Well here’s the part where I share a little bit more of myself with you!


If you were to ask me to name my most epic and life-changing adventures I would have no trouble answering: the time I moved to Paris. As a teenager, and in my early 20s, I was no different than myriads of authors or daydreamers around the world. I longed to see the city of lights. I’m not sure it was so much about being in Paris as it was the grand romance of it all.


After I completed my Undergraduate Degree I decided to packed up my bags and moved to Paris to study French Language and Civilizations at the Sorbonne (Paris IV). Until my dying day I will remember what an elderly gentleman who had served during World War II said to me before my departure: “May Paris be as magical for you as it was for me after the war!” Le sigh. Even know I get misty eyed at the thought.


In Paris I finally became fluent in French. I tasted culinary delights that lived up to my imagination. I made life-long friends. I walked downed the hallways of Versailles and felt the history speaking to me around every corner. Kings. Queens. Revolutions. Post war Treaties. They had all been there. And I was too. I drank in the experience with every fiber of my being.


And somewhere in the middle of my time in Paris I changed. In fact I’d say I flowered. I realized I was stronger and more able than I knew. I became a more determined and driven individual. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think I went to Paris to find myself but somewhere in those tree lined boulevards I created myself.


After my time in Paris, I moved to the West Coast of Canada for law school; during which I would return one more time to live in that beloved city of mine. The second time around I was studying International and Comparative Law (through Cornell and Paris I). Again I lived adventures. Again I had the time of my life. Again I grew.


Truth be told, no matter how many times I return to Paris nothing will compare with that first time. I will carry those memories and experiences with me as long as I live. They form a part of my very core.


Confession? I’m someone who doesn’t very often remember her dreams. But when I do, I’m in Paris . . .


Have you ever had a life changing and epic experience? What was it?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Kombucha and Chobani – a brutally honest review

Hola bloggies!

So in recent times I’ve had the opportunity to taste test some blogger favourites. These particular samples weren’t sent to me by any manufacturers. Rather, they were purchased with my hard earned money. Not that how I obtained the samples ever affects my judgments. When I say I love something I really do. Likewise, when I give something a thumbs down you can trust I’m being totally honest.




Kombucha is one of those products that live on in food blogger lore. Those who love it – LOVE IT! But there is also an equally large portion of bloggers that think it’s absolutely horrible!

Since I can’t get any in my corner of Canada I had to wait until I went South of the Border to pick up a bottle. When I saw it in the grocery store I squealed with delight! lol I wish I were joking!


The maker of Kombucha claims that the juice helped his mother successfully battle cancer. The bottle also boasts a myriad of different health benefits. Truth be told when I picked up the bottle I had no idea it was that good for you – I was just curious.

A search online revealed that Kombucha is a fermented tea used for medicinal purposes. In fact it’s actually made using a culture (similar to yogurt really). Now before purchasing this product I thought it was made with a mushroom – turns out mushroom is just the term to describe the fact that the ingredients have created a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Disappointed

I popped the bottle open and took my first gulp. Immediately I felt the gas of the fermentation on my tongue. It threw me off! Usually I associate that taste with fruit (at a restaurant for example) that is past its prime. And then there was the taste. Hard to describe. It wasn’t really sweet and it wasn’t particularly bitter. But it did taste slightly sour and wrong. Like you should be checking the best before date and considering chucking the whole thing.

Unfortunately I only managed a couple of gulps of Kombucha until I called it a day. The Fiancé then finished the rest but admitted it tasted like the stuff that comes up when you throw up a little in your mouth. Gross.

Bottom Line: I would never have Kombucha again! Maybe if I were dying of thirst in a desert but even then I’d hesitate a little. Surely, there are other ways to get the same nutritional benefits. Dear God, please tell me there are other ways!!!


The next product I tried was Chobani – thus far I have tried both Fage and Oikos and loved them both! But there was always one more brand missing my Greek yogurt triumvirate!



In general I love Greek yogurt because it’s ridiculously high in protein! Basically it’s akin to a strained non-fat (or low-fat) yogurt. The straining concentrates the protein count and makes the yogurt very rich. So much so that it can often be used as a substitute for sour cream in recipes.


In the past I have had both plain and honey Greek yogurts. This was my first time having a fruit in the bottom kind.

Overall I have to say I was really disappointed in this yogurt. Usually when I open up other Greek Yogurt containers I find them filled to the brim; that makes me feel like I’m getting great bang for my buck. When I opened up this container I found it about 3/4 of the way full. Not impressed.

Then came the texture – to be perfectly frank it was watery. I also found the flavour to be slightly too sweet for my taste. On the whole I felt I might as well have been eating your standard supermarket yogurt.

Bottom Line: I would stick with Fage or Oikos instead of this particular kind of Greek Yogurt. I would however be willing to try the plain flavour of Chobani, in hopes that I would like it better than the strawberry flavoured version.

Ooooo…….kind of harsh today, eh!? That’s okay though. I think I owe it to my readers to be honest.

Catch you later bloggies!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Model to Emulate

Hola Bloggies:

Welcome to the very last of my Boise recaps! I think it’s pretty safe to say that I loved that city and I can’t wait to go back.

One of the things that most impressed me about Boise was the Greenbelt that lined the river along the downtown area. The park area was fantastic and very runner and biker friendly. But believe it or not what brought us to the area was not the outdoor fitness options rather it was a memorial.

Some years back (1995 to be precise) the Anne Frank traveling exhibit made it’s way to Boise. The exhibit itself drew massive crowds and left an indelible mark on the people of Idaho. After the Anne Frank event was over, Boise was left pondering how to make sure the lessons of tolerance, acceptance, and human rights lived on. That’s when the Idaho Human Rights Education Centre was born. It’s major project has been the creation of the Anne Frank Memorial, prominently located along the Boise Greenbelt.

Honestly, I was moved by this public outdoor memorial. And I couldn’t help but thinking that any city (or State for that matter) that gives human rights such a prominent place has their priorities in order.

No more words. Just pictures.












Thursday, April 15, 2010

THE Most Glorious Sunday of the Year!

Hola Bloggies:

The Fiancé and I happened to be in Boise over the Easter weekend. And although it would have been very easy to skip out on church, given that we were travelling, we were determined to make it to Easter Sunday service. Initially, we thought of going to a nearby Salvation Army Church but it turned out just to be a thrift store. We didn’t know were to go to worship so we decided to start driving on one of the main thoroughfares heading towards the Capitol. Not too far from downtown we came across the beautiful First Baptist Church.


You see how spectacular the building looked against the perfectly blue sky? And the service was just wonderful. Honestly, when you combined the glorious architecture with the miraculous occasion I was thrilled to pieces with my Easter Sunday. My soul was happy and we got to worship in a lovely place even though far from our Rocky Mountain Casa.

After the service we parked by the Capitol and walked to Goldy’s. I had been waiting to eat there since before we left Canada! Goldy’s is another Boise institution – it’s an incredibly well known breakfast joint, once described by Bon Appétit magazine as their favourite place to have breakfast in North America!!!! High praise indeed!!!!


Goldy’s was bright, cheery, and teeny tiny. I don’t think you would have been able to fit even thirty people in the place. Aside from the seats you see above there was a relatively small area, which is where we were seated. The small seating area and the high praise are likely relevant for the line-ups out the door! In fact they take your cell number and give you a call when your table is ready. And in case you want to wait outside the restaurant they have coffee set up outside.




One of the brilliant things about Goldy’s was the service. All the waiters and waitresses were beyond helpful, the hot sauce/jam/cream selection at the table was ample, and our coffee cups (full of Boise’s own, Dawson Taylor Coffee) never even got half full. The waiters were always there ready to get you anything you wanted. And despite how busy the place was they did it with a smile.

When it came time to choosing our breakfast I was torn. Everything sounded absolutely delicious but in the end I chose the dish that Bon Appétit magazine raved about – the Andalusian eggs.




The Andalusian eggs were two poached eggs on top of a chorizo tomato sauce (I’m told there was also ham in there but I couldn’t actually taste any) that itself was on top of a whole whack of perfectly cooked asparagus. With my main dish I got to choose a side dish and although I was tempted by the pancakes I chose the raisin walnut cinnamon toast. That bread was absolutely delish!!! Most cinnamon toast is overly powdery. You couldn’t even see the cinnamon on the bread and yet you could taste it – perfection. The Andalusian eggs were really great too (and very healthy!). In particular I loved how wonderfully cooked the eggs were. All in all I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Goldy’s to anyone. I myself plan to return every time I’m in the neighbourhood! Winking

After our late brunch we decided to head out for a drive around Boise. Time to get to know the city better. During our drive we came across some foothills that from the distance obviously had trails running through them. On a hunch we headed to one of the local parks and discovered a trail head. The skies were perfectly clear but it was windy. Nonetheless we decided to head out on a random exploration. There was a very strong headwind that meant aside from the up and down nature of the trails we were working hard to keep moving. Still it was a glorious day and it gave me an opportunity to test my Garmin for the first time!!!!





The hike was great but when we got further into the foothills (read higher up) it quickly became obvious that we weren’t dressed for the very harsh exposure to the strong wind. So we headed back. By the time we got back to the car the Garmin looked a little something like that! Well done new friend – the weather around these parts has been kind of yucky (lots of hail) so I haven’t been able to test it on a run yet but I’m totally looking forward to taking it out for a proper spin! Happy

Ah Boise . . . who knew that the capital of Idaho (Seriously!?! Idaho!?!) would end up being so very cool. Great restaurants. Lovely hiking. Beautiful architecture. I loved it all!

Have you ever been surprised by a city that surpassed your expectations? Have you ever been disappointed by a city?

Basques in Idaho!!! (Yes – I’m serious)

Hola Bloggies:

Last we left off the Fiancé and I had finally arrived in Boise! Happily we discovered a beautiful and impeccably clean city with some fantastic places to hang out!






Having done my research ahead of time, one of the things that most drew me to Boise was it’s large Basque population. Surely that meant there were good eats to be had!!! Plus maybe a funky shop or too. Enter the Basque Block. That’s right – it’s largely a block now but it takes up the spot where the Basques originally lived in Boise.

The Basque Block is downtown in old Boise and is wonderfully maintained. According to the people we spoke to, and the Basque Museum we visited, the Basques arrived in the area fleeing the discrimination and economic conditions that existed in their home lands (some from France but most from Spain). Quickly they settled into the sheep herding business and became known for their hard work ethic. Slowly more members of the family emigrated and the population of Basques in Boise blossomed. Even today there is a population in the tends of thousands!

At one time the block was full of rooming houses that were home to the largely male population of sheep herders. Of course there were also restaurants, pubs, and social clubs on the street. Today, those buildings still stand and even to this day house similar establishments. One of the most well known businesses on the block is the Basque Market – a tiny but absolutely lovely store filled with imported delights!




Browsing around the store I had to restrain myself from spending too much money. Mostly, I stocked up on presents for the gentleman who was kind enough to look after Daisy and my parents. I did get one or two things for us but not much. No worries though – I definitely got to experience the Basque Market – through tapas!!!! Happy




Don’t let their appearance fool you! Those humble looking pieces of food provided a veritable taste explosion in my mouth!!!! The Fiancé had the plate on top and declared everything wonderful. I had the second plate – featuring a piece of French bread with a Spanish cheese and a quince paste (the Fiancé loved this combo so much we bought all the requisite ingredients to buy it at home), a chicken croquette (delish!), and stuffed mushroom caps. I particularly fell in love with the mushroom caps (filled with a mixture of Spanish cheeses and Serrano ham)!! When describing them to my mother I said “If you were to stuff heaven into a mushroom they would taste like that!” lol I meant it!!

Since we hadn’t eaten since breakfast and it was about 4PM at this point we decided to order a glass of wine and a soup to make our snack more of a meal.




I think it’s plain to see that we were both feeling absolutely content with our Boise experience at that point. What a fantastic market and restaurant. It really was a highlight of our trip.

Eventually we headed back to our hotel area to take a walk around Boise’s fantastic greenbelt (more on that in an upcoming post). Happily we discovered that our hotel had a shuttle to downtown – so we took advantage of that service and went back to the Basque block for a late dinner. This time we hit up a very old establishment (think turn of the 20th century) called Gernika. If the name seems familiar to you it’s likely due to the famous Picasso piece by the same name. Gernika, in Boise, is really a post stamp sized pub. They are known for serving up some yummy uncomplicated Basque dishes.



I decided to order a glass of white wine with a half chorizo (served in a piece of baguette) and the Fiancé ordered a lamb stew with salad. To start we both shared the cheese platter and oh my!!! It was so inexpensive (under $9) and I’m convinced I couldn’t have assembled the dishes for such low a price. It came chock full of sliced apples, baguettes, and three different kinds of Spanish cheeses. I was loving it!!!



Honestly, sitting in that pub surrounded by people of all ages having fun, sipping on my white wine, and munching on baguettes and cheese, I felt like I was back living in Europe. Le sigh. Happy

Once we were finished with our dinner we left and spent some time walking around the downtown core of Boise. I was so impressed with how clean and safe everything was in Idaho’s capital. As an added bonus the city is full of cute dining establishments right up my alley. For our night cap and for (the Fiancé's) dessert we popped into a wine bar steps from the State Capitol.




The wine was perfect. The atmosphere elegant and laid back at the same time. The bread pudding (I had a bite) was rich and lovely. I still had another full day in Boise at this point and I was already singing it’s praises! Our impromptu vacation had been a definite hit!

Does your city have any small establishments that just ooze character? I still can’t get over how cool that Gernika place was – they even had numbered ceramic cups hanging above the bar. Those dated back from the days when all of the local Basque workers had their own cups. An institution in it’s own right!