Category — travel
I thought I would cry while watching Frozen but I didn’t. Over the holidays, I spent four days in Bruges, Belgium which kind of reminded me of spending time in a medieval animated movie. I had done a fair bit of recon on what cities had the best Christmas markets and Bruges consistently came up on the best tourist list. It was once of the only places where Christmas market doesn’t shut down, well after Christmas. My kind of town! But guess what, it’s even better…
There was so much to do in this cobblestone town, filled with craft beer, chocolate shops, vintage laces and charm. Set amid a network of canals, the best way to explore this pretty postcard was to wander aimlessly among its star patterned streets. All streets lead to the central square where you will find The Burg, cathedrals and gothic mansions.
Being an avid art lover, I found a series of intimate galleries featuring the works of the Dutch and Flemish masters, among them Van Dyck and Hans Memling. My favourite places to take it all in were Groeningemuseum and Memlingmuseum.
Belgium is known for its chocolate, beer, waffles and moules frites. It was kind of embarrassing when I ordered Moules Frites and a giant pot came to my table. I made a valiant effort but the waiter tsk’ed tsk’ed my inability to finish the entire serving. The afternoon snack of choice was of the crepe variety – I often found a homey spot and let the smell of waffles permeate my hair for the afternoon. Watch as they make homemade crepes in this tiny café – Creperie de Bretoen. I would love to go back to Bruges, perhaps in the summertime to enjoy some drinks al fresco and take a canal tour.
April 4, 2015 No Comments
I recently returned from a gloriously long vacation in Europe. It was the kind of trip that continued so long, I lost track of time and dates. Back in my university days, Paris failed to live up to the hype of its image. But I rediscovered Paris, charmed by the grandeur of Haussman’s boulevards, twinkling lights shining brightly on the Champs Elysee and the surprising kindness and nouveau joie de vie that greeted me upon my return. I knew I was demurely blending in as I was often stopped for directions (by the French, no less)!
Should you find yourself in need of an impromptu mini-break, Paris is always a good idea.
La Louvre is worth it – I spent 4 hours in The Louvre and I didn’t even see all of it. Go early to avoid the massive lineups. While many of the galleries will be rammed with tourists (particularly the Italian and Renaissance), you can still take in the art in relative quiet in the lesser frequented rooms on the 2nd floor. You can also have a dejeuner at Angelina; there is a great view of the central courtyard to people watch.
Wear black head-to-toe – Understated cool and lots of leather. A black wardrobe is a true French staple. That and those Petit Bateau striped knit tops. Parisian style is iconic – chic, cool, effortless. You can also get a taste of that ‘je ne sais quoi’ at Sandro, Maje, Comptoir des Cotonniers or at their grands magasins (department stores) Printemps and Galeries Lafayette.
Red Lips Don’t Care – Bright red or crimson lips are also a MUST – check out my classic-LC beauty post for a tutorial on The Perfect Red Pout. Obviously, the Parisian classic is of the Chanel variety – Try Rouge Allure Velvet in La Fascinante. And for the Brigitte Bardot in you, black eyeliner and mascara is welcome too.
Éclair is the New Macaron – Parisians are over the macaron. I’m not over it but just to let you know, it’s so last season. Novelty eclairs are the ‘it’ patisserie du jour. I would have brought some home but undoubtedly they would have been squished in my suitcase seeing how I had to sit on said luggage to close it. Even if you want an après-midi, sugar fix Laduree and Fauchon are not the only macaron games in town. You can hit up any corner boulangerie (bakery) and there will be macarons aplenty. Just visit a busy one with lots of Frenchies and you know it’s good. Trust.
January 11, 2015 No Comments
So don’t make me watch a rom-com, unless the fashion is good. Maybe I can handle a 1/2 hour but then promise me, we can switch to a zombie dramedy. You swear? Right now, I’m building a winter cozy wardrobe reminiscent of Cameron Diaz in The Holiday (2006). The premise is that Cameron Diaz’s character longs for a change of scenery from LA and switches homes with English Kate Winslet during holiday season. Trading in the sunny palms of West Coast for the quaintness of cottage life in the English countryside, shenanies ensue. I don’t remember the rest. At some point, she also hooks up with hottie mchotterson Jude Law (pre-nanny scandal).
But I digress. My interpretation of channelling Cammy in The Holiday… aka Chalet Chic-y.
And if you’re looking to trade places this holiday season, flash-forward 2014 and we’ve got Airbnb.
November 6, 2014 No Comments
I love Roncey. On the western edge of the city, the happening stretch of Roncesvalles between Howard Park and Queen Street is a pedestrian friendly neighbourhood overflowing with gourmet restaurants, cozy cafes, independent retailers and fresh fruit markets. I was really lucky to accompany my friend D on a foodie lovers walking tour in the summer hosted by Yellow Pages Taste Your Neighbourhood & the Roncesvalles BIA. My friend and I were the requisite tour girls who lagged behind sampling and buying everything. Ahem, we were taking one for the team and supporting local. Yeah we were.
La Cubana (392 Roncesvalles Ave.) – With its retro green and red subway tiled walls and open kitchen, this Cuban style diner is charming and funky. The menu boasts an overwhelming selection of diner favourites with a latin twist. Of course there is the Cuban sandwich, corn frituras and empanadas. Try them brunch or dinner.
Barque Smokehouse (299 Roncesvalles Ave.) – You would think as a vegetarian I wouldn’t be into it but the smell of those baby-back, baby-back ribs almost turned me carnivore. But alas, I lived vicariously through my friend S who tried the sampler of ribs, chicken, brisket and Italian sausage. I had the plank salmon with a variety of sides which included heirloom tomato salad, panko crusted penne n’ cheese and bbq-spiced French fries. We didn’t talk for half an hour because we were too busy eating.
The Mercantile (297 Roncesvalles Ave.) – Gourmet meets giftshop. If someone wants to buy a gift or surprise dinner party guests with something to ‘ooh and ahh’ over, you will find an array of specialty snacks, artisan teas, chocolates and preserves galore in this treasure bursting pantry and sweet boutique.
October 13, 2014 No Comments
Sometimes I can’t help myself. I can be self indulgent and impulsive — both common traits of Geminis. Though I am planning a holiday trip, I could not resist a Fall mini-break to New York with my sister. This travel compulsion trumps any chocolate addiction. I can often lure a few friends to tag along because they know I love to plan a) brunches/dinners b) shopping c) activities involving champagne spritzers/Riesling and in general I up the ante on my comedy game. More fun? Yes please!
I was feeling nostalgic so the theme of our trip was throwback. I tried to mix in a little of this and little of that, some places that we used to haunt and some new ones to keep it fresh.
Cafeteria (119 7th Ave.) – We were just babies when we used to come here. Do you remember China Club? Carrie loved it. Still open 24 hours, good for brunch mimosas, great for after the bar comfort food. Mac n’ Cheese is still on the menu.
Nobu NY (105 Hudson St.) – There’s a reason people come back for chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s new style Japanese cuisine. Spaces are warm, subdued and elegant. The Tribeca location is the original (famously backed by Robert de Niro) which opened in 2004. With imaginative dishes and high quality sushi I’m like ‘whoa.’ This is saying a lot coming from a vegetarian who detests raw things.
Ladurée (398 West Broadway, Soho) – A Parisian tea room with a glass case of patisserie and candy-coloured rainbow of macarons await.
Stanton Social (99 Stanton St.) – My friend S said, “Lower East Side is the new Meatpacking.” That makes me giggle. There’s still a bit of grungey edge to LES but I like when the sketch intermingles with trendy spots. Keeping it real. Celebrity chef Chris Santos’s menu is a mashup of ethnic tapas from Kobe beef sliders to Nori Spice Tuna Wonton and Summer Squash Ravioli. Try Monday nights if you want a downtown crowd.
October 4, 2014 No Comments
My cool blonde friend C who reminds me of Mad Men’s Betty Draper recently got hitched in her hometown of Burlington, Vermont. A bevy of East Coast It Girls descended on this truly postcard picturesque college town. There we found a cobblestone pedestrian street, heritage buildings, boutique shopping and a plethora of restaurants serving delicious farm to table food. The city hosts a weekend Farmer’s Market which is not to be missed. I arrived a day early and I was busted by friends retail therapy in session. Try the boutique Stella Mae (96 Church St.) for young contemporary brands like Ark & Co, Mink Pink, Chaser and funky shoes from Jeffrey Campbell and Dolce Vita. To indulge your love of vintage, check out Old Gold (180 Main St.) which houses costumes, kitschy accessories, vintage dresses, denim cutoffs and trendy fast-fashion. I bought so much there, they thanked me. Bahahaha. Noooo, thank you!
Loving to research travel, I insisted that we stay at Tripadvisor’s #1 Rated B&B Made Inn Vermont (204 S. Willard). Designed in a Victorian Gothic Paris Vogue meets Rockstar, there were quirky details aplenty to feast your curiosity. Like if Keith Richards opened up a B&B, this would be it. Rooms are adorned in a cozy whimsical style with electric guitars and drums (instruments can be played until 10pm) and chalkboards for guests to leave their love notes or drawings. The owner Linda insisted on making us her famous Sangria so we could chillax pre-cocktail party in the tiki backyard HT (hottt tub, oh yes this was the cincher). When we told our friends, they said, “we got lemonade at our B&B??!!” I just advised that next time they should talk to me. Such a fun mini-vacay! Highly recommended.
July 2, 2014 No Comments