Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sites I Like: Jezebel

Jezebel's tagline is "Celebrity, Sex, Fashion. Without Airbrushing". There was a time when I checked PinkIsTheNewBlog (and, maybe even Perez Hilton), not religiously but relatively regularly. I really enjoy tidbits of celebrity gossip but those sites left me feeling kinda scuzzy.....

Luckily, somewhere along the way, I discovered Jezebel and now it is the only "celebrity" site I use. They publish a "dirt bag" at 9am US EST every weekday morning which rounds up all the happenings and in between they post interesting links from news stories around the world, with commentary and a snarky, feminist slant. It's great!

It is a heavily trafficked site and the commenters can be hilarious. However, they can also be frustrating. I especially notice this when there is a science post - there can be a fair bit of misinformation bandied about. But really, I don't check the site for its science!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back to reality

What a lovely weekend! We hosted a party at the "cottage"  - we ate delicious homemade spinach dip with jalepeno chips (try it!), drank fabulous wine, watched a Burnese Mountain dog come face-to-face with his first frog, snubbed our nose at the drizzle and went swimming, cosied up on the lounge, tried out homemade cinnamon buns on the BBQ, watched big ships ease by on the river, and just generally relaxed and enjoyed each other's company.

(As I didn't snap many pictures at the party, here is one from last summer in Perth - a Cooper's Extra Strong Vintage Ale. As it is only released every two years, Dad put away a case so that we could enjoy it together on those hot summer afternoons! Unfortunately this week the sun didn't put in an appearance, but it still felt as idyllic.....)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

All quiet on the blog front...

I am currently making Smitten Kitchen's Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad and a big pan of caramelised onions to take to the "cottage" tonight for our party! So, the blog will be quiet for the next couple of days but I will be back in the week with pictures of all the delicious things I, and others, made for our shindig! (Spoiler: Oreo cheesecake slice!)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sites I Like: Marginal Revolution

Marginal Revolution, or MR as it is known around here, is the blog of two economics professors who post interesting and thought-provoking links and ideas about a surprisingly diverse range of topics! With so much happening right now in the global economy, I really appreciate their perspective and their clear explanations (and the randomness of some of their posts!)
Though M may laugh at this, I find MR similar to Jezebel, in a way, in that the authors aggregates news and links with their own commentary. Both are a daily read for me (my RSS feed does look a little eclectic!)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Little critters

When I blogged about my balcony garden, hollypop commented that she was happy her staircase garden wasn't frequented by furry little critters. As much as I really wish the squirrels would leave my garden alone, there are perks to living in a country with squirrels - they are adorable and provide hours of amusement!

This picture was taken during a hike/bush walk in Saguenay, a city about 5 hours north of Montreal (home of Saguenay hot dogs and the worst fish and chips I have ever eaten - a post for a later time!)

Sites I Like: The Island of Dr Gâteau

Another friend's site, this one a stunning baking blog. J's blog showcases more permutations of red velvet than anyone dreamed possible, delightfully nerdy cupcake decorations and textural, molecular gastromical delights. I love to bake too but J has taken "baking for the lab meeting" to a whole new level! I just have to find some sodium alginate in Montreal and I will be in business.....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Review: Cafe Souvenir

Ahh, brunch! One of my favourite meals of the weekend (you just can't do brunch on a weekday can you?) Our regular place in Montreal is Cafe Souvenir, in Outremont. Consistently excellent food and, though they modified their menu and increased their prices recently, still damn good value!

In this picture you can see a recent feast - I had a friend visiting from London and we went a little crazy ordering all of our favourites! Pictured in the foreground is an omelette with bacon, spinach and brie, with baguette on the side, homemade confiture (jam) to the left and a small bowl of fresh fruit. The bacon in these omelettes is amazing - they cook it before adding it to the eggs, so it is nice and crispy - delicious! They are also served straight from the pan at the table, a nice touch!

Another favourite - pain dore (French toast) which is served with little bottles of real maple syrup at no extra charge. This is actually a rarity in Montreal which is unbelievable given than Quebec produces about 80% of the world's maple syrup. For our visitor we also ordered a side of feves au lard, Quebec-style baked beans. I have never liked British-style tinned baked beans, but fèves au lard are completely different - meaty, smokey with a touch of sweetness. Yum!

Also recommended: the breakfast burrito, the Mandarin Melba (yogurt, granola, mandarin slices and berry coulis), the Niçoise salad and the sweet potato fries that can be ordered with the hamburgers.

Brunch at Cafe Souvenir is served until 4pm. Around 1pm there is often a line up, though, if you are willing to sacrifice the terrasse, you can normally score a table inside.

Cafe Souvenir
1261 Avenue Bernard
Outremont, QC H2V 1V8

Hamburger Porn

That is all.

(well, it's not quite all. If you happen to live in Canberra, try this hamburger from the greasy chicken place near Fenner Hall. I get one (or two!) every time I am in town. Mmmmm)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sites I Like: ec1v

This is my friend's site! She has just started blogging about plans to renovate their new apartment in London. No "knocking down the wall" action just yet, but beautiful pictures of their open space living area, complete with guitar playing finches and Eames DSW dining chairs! I love her design aesthetic and can't wait to see how they transform the space (thought realistically, it looks great already!) I wonder how much Danish furniture she can source in the next 18 months.....


Signs in Quebec can be a contentious issue. To protect the French language (for more on this, see this Wikipedia article), there are rules and regulations about the order of the languages, the relative size of the fonts, whether there needs to be English at all.... it can be quite complicated! But this sign, in Parc Jean Drapeau, gets the point across nicely!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Eggplant dip

This is phase 1 of an eggplant dip. Two eggplants, roasted with a halved, unpeeled red onion and a couple of cloves of unpeeled garlic. Scoop out the flesh of the eggplant then puree all with yogurt (I used labne as I had it in the fridge), a little oil, salt and pepper and, very importantly, lemon juice! Serve with greek pita as you wait for your roast vegies to finish in the oven. Yum!

The original recipe is available here

Balcony gardening

This year I have really enjoyed establishing a little balcony garden. In Australia, my balcony was terrorised by possums, so I could only have relatively spiky and non-edible plants. (Luckily we were three stories up and had a huge tree that created a beautiful green backdrop, so it didn't look too sparse.) Here, my balcony is terrorised by squirrels and, as I only recently found out, a raccoon! But, my friend A has devised a pretty much fool proof method of keeping the squirrels away. Squirrels don't really seem to eat the plants, but love to dig in the soil, burying their little treasures in anticipation of the cold winter. Of course, they are oblivious to the roots of the plants, so everything gets upended and broken and the plants suffer. But, if you place shards of tile in the soil, like little spikes, the squirrels seem to leave the plants alone - I guess it is not worth the pain in their little paws!

In this picture you can see my spearmint plant. I had heard mint was ultra hardy and I wanted something I could be fairly sure would make it through the summer and the transition inside for the winter. It is growing well and I love having a store of fresh mint on hand for cocktails and the occasional roast lamb!

Friday, August 13, 2010


I have lived through two winters now in Quebec, but last December was my first time flying "in the snow". The day before I left for Australia we had the first major snow storm of the season, which dumped over 20cm of snow on my city. The plane needed to be de-iced before we could take off, something I felt lucky to have learnt about beforehand, since seeing the wings doused in orange goo just before take off is not the SOP in Australia!

Once we were in the air, I relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. The normal patchwork blanket of fields and paddocks is transformed when covered in snow......

Friday morning

I woke up early and couldn't get back to sleep. The summer sun filtering through the curtains didn't help, but soon enough it will be dark in the morning and all I will want to do is curl deeper under the doona.