Quebec City: What a Food City! (Vegetarian Style)

Quebec City blew us away with amazing vegetarian food options. See, in the past, we’ve had trouble finding vegetarian fare in some of places that we’ve travelled. For Quebec City, I researched and made reservations weeks before we left to avoid the last minute scramble to find grub (trying to find food when you’re really hungry is such a pain). The verdict?: Quebec City is one of the top food cities of my life! Some food highlights of our trip include:

Chez Rioux & Pettigrew: This place was close to our hotel and absolutely adorable. The atmosphere had a really cool “farm-to-table” rustic vibe. The butternut squash soup was amazing. The grains/veggie ball dish with date puree was also incredible!

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How adorable is Chez Rioux & Pettigrew?
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The date puree in this dish was amazing! I immediately wanted to learn to make this at home.

La Planque: This restaurant was a bit further from our hotel (we ended up taking a taxi). We were lucky enough to sit in the back with a full view of the kitchen, so we had a fun time watching the chefs at work. We told the waiter that we were vegetarian and they ended up making us a customized meal!

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Our delicious customized meal at La Planque.

Le Clocher Penché: An excellent brunch place that we found during our walk through St. Roch. We got the vegetarian plate (onion banjos, orange yogurt, crispy endive, squash pickle, and cashew) and the soup of the day – a root vegetable soup.

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Root vegetable soup at Le Clocher Penché.

My favorite restaurant of the trip was probably Légende, which was a short walk from our hotel. This restaurant was fantastic. We were told that they used all locally sourced products for their dishes. The ambience was awesome – the restaurant was dimly lit with cute string lights. We sat next to the windows watching the snow fall. We had the homemade tofu and vegetable forest (mustard vinaigrette, black garlic crumble, with enoki and chanterelle mushrooms), cricket handmade pasta (kale, oyster mushrooms, and vegetable jus), and the ricotta and flax seed cavatelli (mushroom, pangrattato, eggplant puree, and 1608 cheese). For dessert, I opted for the sea buckthorn curd, because I rarely see sea buckthorn on menus!

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Sea buckthorn curd dessert

As far as disappointing dining experiences, we had dinner one evening at Aux Anciens Canadiens. The restaurant is charming inside with its old world vibe, but the food was bland and not particularly memorable. We were later told that this restaurant mostly catered to tour groups. We were excited to try the maple syrup pie (I had even made my own from recipes online in anticipation for this trip). My pie was better, which I guess is a good thing since that means I don’t necessarily need to rush back to Aux Anciens Canadiens to get my fill.

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Quebec City: Market Time

Alright, so I’m a tad bit behind on blog updates (that’s an understatement!). To celebrate the hot weather outside, I should probably clean up and publish these Quebec City blog post drafts. Not surprisingly, I usually wish for summers in the winter and winters in the summer, so perhaps the timing isn’t so bad after all.

Here’s the thing – I might change my tune someday, but right now I love visiting snowy winter destinations. They make me feel more in the holiday spirit (although I wouldn’t necessarily turn down a Caribbean island after the holidays). 🙂 Seriously, look at this picture of Old Quebec and Petit Champlain; it screams December! (And hot chocolate and scarves and wool sweaters and warm baked goods).

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A Snowy Petit Champlain

Quebec City was lovely. I was a little afraid of the cold; believe me, it was cold. Still, there were a ton of fun things to do. Make sure to pack warm gloves! Since our hotel was in Old Quebec, we made sure to visit Petit Champlain and walk along the Terrasse Dufferin every day. There was also a German-themed Christmas village right down the road with cute snow capped food stalls and clothing/jewelry shops. If Christmas markets are your thing and one isn’t enough, there was also a market we visited during the day at the Marché du Vieux-Port de Québec in the Old Port. The Old Port Market, which was indoors and much warmer, had more in terms of food variety – mushrooms, ice wines, candies, cheeses and maple. And oh, the maple! Maple goodness everywhere.

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The German Christmas market

One of my favorite treks in Quebec City was J.A. Moisan, the oldest grocery store in North America. This photo does not do the space justice – there were shelves and shelves of local jams, honeys, and maple syrups. They had stacks of teas, chocolates, candies, hot sauces, cheeses, and spices. I took a hour to study the shelves and I wanted to bring home everything. Luckily, the airline liquid limits helped to temper my shopping spree. Still, if you love grocery stores and looking through new and interesting products (seabuckthorn jam anybody?!, I definitely recommend a stop here. We went early in the morning, just after opening, and had the place to ourselves for most of our time.

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J.A. Moisan’s tea and coffee collection

After visiting the grocery store, we spent time window shopping through the Saint Roch area. There were cafes to duck into when we needed recovery from the winter.

 

Happy Holidays from Quebec City!

In the holiday spirit, I wanted to go somewhere cold and snowy; no tropical islands for this girl this year! I’ve wanted to visit Quebec City for a very long time, so I finally decided 2017 was the year to go.

I know most people visit who visit Quebec City in the winter decide to go to the February Carnival, but I wanted to see the Christmas decorations (and avoid crowds and the creepy mascot Bonhomme :)). I read that December is the low-season for Quebec, so that only encouraged me to visit more.

Quebec did not disappointed. We started booking airfare and accommodations a couple of months in advance. I saw photos online of the beautiful Fairmont hotel (and had heard of its famous sister property in Banff). I was discouraged because I simply could not justify spending $250/night on a hotel room, no matter how beautiful or great the location.

I researched the area’s hotels online and then decided to start researching Priceline and Hotwire bids. With Hotwire, the Fairmont Château Frontenac listing was pretty evident (it was the only hotel in that particular vicinity with its star rating). We were very lucky to score and get the hotel for over half price – making the price comparable to other hotels. I was thrilled!

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The Fairmont Christmas trees. How gorgeous is this lobby!

The hotel was fantastic. We were assigned a city view room overlooking the city and the St. Lawrence river. I highly recommend saying here if you ever have the opportunity.

Once we checked in and got settled in our room, it was already dark. Still, we wanted to take advantage of our first night in Quebec. The city was very chilly; we were greeted by single digit temperatures. I was sure to bundle up with multiple layers and gloves. We visited the German Christmas market and walked around Quartier Petit Champlain. Most of the shops had already closed, so it was a peaceful walk under the lights and through the snow.

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A peaceful Quartier Petit Champlain on a winter night

That’s it for the first night. I can’t wait to blog about the fantastic food and sights we saw in Quebec. Until next time!

Copenhagen’s Paper Island

Our last full day in Copenhagen started with a trip to Paper Island (Papirøen), which is a waterfront warehouse that was transformed into a food truck/cafeteria haven. We arrived right when the doors were opening, so the food truck owners were still busy prepping food stations and getting ready to serve their daily fare. We took the first 15 minutes to walk around and research our choices (and there were a ton of choices of global food – Korean, Brazilian, Italian, Japanese, Mexican) before settling on some vegetarian-friendly “toastie” sandwiches. There was plenty of seating (especially in the early afternoon) and we enjoyed seeing the global influences and decorations crammed into a small area.

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A little too early for cocktails…
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Monkeebutt mojitos and cocktails

After grabbing some Icelandic-inspired pancakes and coffee to warm up, we headed over to Amalienborg and Frederik’s Church. The day was cloudy and rainy, so we limited our time outside of the Palace and quickly scurried indoors to check out the Frederik’s Church, or “the marble church,” as it’s known. Don’t get me wrong, I love checking out palaces and castles but after seeing 3 others in Denmark, the interiors were starting to run together.

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Frederik’s Church

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We arrived at the Church right as it was opening, so it was very peaceful inside and we were able to take our time admiring the marble architecture and artwork inside.

The rain let up, allowing us to stroll through the city and check out cute shops and grab some smoothies from Joe and the Juice. I grabbed some postcards to send to friends and family back home, and had enough self-control to not buy too many Moomin products. 🙂

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Cute, colorful post-rain stroll

Copenhagen Day Four: National Gallery, Rosenborg Castle, and Tivoli Gardens (Part II)

Our fourth day in Denmark was quite busy! I already posted about our first half at Torvehallerne and the city’s botanical gardens. 🙂 The second half we spent at the National Gallery of Denmark (Statens Museum for Kunst), Rosenborg Castle, and Tivoli Gardens.

We continued our day with a visit to the National Gallery of Denmark. I enjoyed the more historical art pieces, especially the exhibits on Nordic Art, European Art (1300-1800) and, in particular, this section on artwork that were basic objects but made to look 3D, like they jumped off the page.

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Since you noticed that my favorite sections were the non-abstract art, I probably don’t have to mention that I’m not typically a fan of modern art. I think that side of my brain must not be firing all cylinders or something; a lot of it leaves me baffled. At SMK, the most oddball section was definitely the exhibit on Wilhelm Freddie. The short films were so bizarre that I had to sit through them twice. If you’re interested, here is one of the films:

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I’m not really an art expert, so I can’t say anything particular insightful. There was a cool “tiny house” RV that we were allowed to go into and some robot-looking statues made from old TVs.

After our visit to SMK, we went to visit Rosenborg Castle. It was a nice castle, but I wouldn’t say it was anything spectacular. The castle had some nice artwork and furnishing, but it was a bit drab and very dark inside. Frederiksborg Castle was definitely leagues above Rosenborg. Still, Rosenborg was pretty on the outside, it was in a central location, and easy to get to.

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Rosenborg Castle

We ended our day at Tivoli Gardens, which was near our hotel. We passed it on previous days while out and about, so I was excited to visit. It was adorable! We didn’t ride anything, since it was pretty chilly and I’m sure I would have acquired frostbite. 😉 But the grounds were cute and fun to explore. The landscaping was nice, and there were a lot of flowers and fountains. There were also some pretty cool pavilions and mini-restaurants, with live music and theater shows. The staff was passing out new samples of Pepsi Ginger, too and some new flavor of Doritos. As a fan of ginger, I was excited for the Pepsi, but after trying it – I think I’ll pass. 😦

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Love the yellow and green on this pavilion.

We saw an interesting mime show. I’m not exactly sure what the plot was, but it involved a bear, a man selling off his daughter, and two women dancing with a pig caracas in the woods. I’m must not be observant, because I have no idea what the plot was. 🙂 It did make for some fun photos, though!

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The mime show: a pig in the woods!

Copenhagen Day Four: Torvehallerne and Gardens (Part I)

Our fourth day in Denmark was quite busy! I’ll have to break it into two separate chunks – the first focusing on the initial half of our day at Torvehallerne and the city’s botanical gardens. 🙂

We started off the morning at Torvehallerne, a market with numerous high-end food stands – which patrons can enjoy either on the premises or as regular grocery shopping to bring home! Torvehallerne had a very modern, clean, and bright vibe (and why wouldn’t it? It’s surrounded by glass)! Bonus for us? Since we visited during the late morning on a weekday, the market was practically empty. Don’t you love this herb stand?

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Herb stand at Torvehallerne

We toured around the stands, drooling over the options, before settling on the spicy fried egg Bánh mì. Yum! You’ll enjoy this if you love eggs and a lot of cilantro. Finding vegetarian fare wasn’t exactly easy in Copenhagen, so we were happy to stumble across this.

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Spicy fried egg Bánh mì, yum!

From Torvehallerne, we walked over to the University of Copenhagen’s Botanical Gardens. The gardens were free to enter. The campus had nice outdoor gardens and ponds, along with beautiful historic glass greenhouses. I was surprised at the sheer variety of plants growing outdoors; they were labeled with their native habitats and there were plants from pretty much every continent happily growing outdoors. I’m jealous of the staff’s green thumbs, because I can barely keep an aloe plant alive. 🙂

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Botanical Garden glasshouse and the famous Palm House. 🙂

The narrow stairs in the Palm House are a little scary, especially considering the humidity in the room. I couldn’t take very many good photos, because the lens on my camera kept fogging up. We especially enjoyed the moss displays. I kept hunting around the gardens trying to find all of the poisonous plants, which all have signs outlining the hazards!

A Day Trip to Frederiksborg Slot

For our first full day in Denmark, we decided to take the 45-minute train trip up to Hillerød to visit the beautiful Frederiksborg Slot. It was really easy to get to; we left from Central Station and once we arrived in Hillerød, the Castle area was a short walk from the train station. We opted to take the scenic route around the lake.

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Frederiksborg Castle from across the lake

We really enjoyed our day! The castle houses the Museum of National History; the first exhibit we walked through was a collection of knitted renaissance outfits created by the Netmaskerne knitting guild. The exhibit was cool and I liked seeing different outfit inspirations. The castle interiors were beautiful and visitors stroll through several hundred of years of Danish history; as with most castles, we found ourselves surrounded by ornate interiors, and intricate furnishings. My two favorite rooms were the Audience Chamber and the Chapel.

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The beautiful Audience Chamber

On the third floor, there were exhibits of photography and modern art. The interiors housing the modern collection were still beautiful, but not quite like the better preserved and more ornate rooms on the first and second floors. My favorite part of the modern collection was a room with hand drawn sketches and paintings of Danish Arctic explorers.

The grounds were definitely the highlight. The day was beautiful and we were welcomed by blue, sunny skies. We walked around the lake, saw the gardens, and enjoyed the view of the castle from the benches along the water.

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Enjoying life in the trees

Afterward, we explored Hillerød on a quest for lunch; it was difficult to find vegetarian options. We ended up grabbing some sandwiches at Kaffebar before sitting along the waterfront and enjoying ice cream from Tortes Vaffelhus.