La cuisine en camping – Cooking and camping

Steaks and potatoes over the campfire and a pan of asparagus

Cuisiner avec le feu de camp. Campfire cooking

An English message will follow

Il y a quelques semaines, je suis allé camper au parc provincial Pinery, à Grand Bend. Pendant mon court séjour à proximité des berges du lac Huron, je me suis lancé un défi: celui de cuisiner, uniquement à l’aide du feu de camp.

Ce défi et quelques conseils de la part d’Alexandra Leduc, diététiste et auteure du livre Cuisine camping publié aux édition Modus Vivendi ont inspiré une chronique. Vous pouvez l’écouter sur les site de l’émission Matins sans frontières de Radio-Canada Windsor.

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The Tarnished Spoon Travels – Victoria

Best view to admire the Juan de Fuca Strait along Dallas road.

Best view to admire the Juan de Fuca Strait along Dallas road.

After two days of r & r, we bid goodbye to Sooke and headed all the way to Tofino, one of Canada’s most western points. We genuinely enjoyed combing the coast for rocks and shells, staring at the waves, we truly did, but we were more than happy to hit the road again, and drive ourselves to Victoria, British Columbia’s capital city.

With a population of about 344 000 people, depending on how you look at it, Victoria is a small big city or big small town. One thing is certain we gladly left our rental car at the hotel in order to discover most of the city by foot.

One can truly discover the city while rambling through the city in search of the perfect vintage find. During our stay, we planned out our itinerary by mapping out antique and vintage shops and where to eat. continue reading

The Tarnished Spoon Travels – Soaking up the sights and flavours of Sooke Harbour House

Panorama of the Juan de Fuca Strait and Olympic Mountains from a room at Sooke Harbour House.

The view from the Emily Carr room: Juan de Fuca Strait and Olympic Mountains.

After a lengthy flight delay, we finally landed in Victoria in the late afternoon excited to take the road. Located 45 minutes West of Victoria, Sooke Harbour House would prove to be a restful oasis.

As we were checking in, we essentially checked out all of our worries. There are two main things that lure you to Sooke Harbour House: exquisite dining and a breathtaking location. We were soon to experience both over the next two days. continue reading

Coming soon to The Tarnished Spoon… Beautiful British Columbia


A couple of months ago my partner and I packed up our suitcases and headed out West for the to shake off our late winter blues. British Columbia beckoned and we answered its call by exploring Sooke, Tofino, Victoria and Vancouver.

Indulging in the exquisite hyper local food prepared at Spoke Harbour House, driving through Cathedral grove on our way to Tofino or simply thrifting and antiquing to our heart’s delight in Victoria were truly enjoyable and inspiring moments. I was excited to come back home and write all about it.

On writer’s block and barriers

Upon our return, I wanted to write and share our adventures out West. Several evenings after work I’d go to the laptop to and attempt to write up a post, but nothing came out. Massive writer’s block… A blank document… SILENCE.

I knew what I wanted to share, but nothing was coming out right. So I’d stop, I’d let myself get distracted, heck, pretty much anything was turning into a good excuse to do something else other than write. Procrastination had taken full swing, affecting all personal writing. Even my fun Tasting the Past posts had come to a halt. This slump is completely my own doing.

This must change.

The only way to battle through writer’s block is to tackle it head-on: moving forward and well… just writing – you’ve got to start somewhere. So here it goes! (and hopefully much more will follow!)

First stop: Sooke Harbour House.


Happy New Year… and some great blogs to follow in 2013

Grab a snack and a cup of the and coffee, it's time to start reading. - Photo: Eric Rados.

Grab a snack and a cup of the and coffee, it’s time to start reading. – Photo: Eric Rados.

First things first: happy New Year! Wishing everyone health and happiness to unleash creativity throughout 2013! Bonne année! 

It was with great enthusiasm that I found out yesterday that Johnny from Feed the piglet had nominated me for the “Blog of the Year 2012” Award. I must admit that it came somewhat as a surprise, considering that I’ve only recently begun to post entries more consistently. continue reading

Tarnished Spoon Travels: a Montreal Food Crawl

Visitors are greeted by colourful chairs at Brooklyn.

The tradition continues. Over the past seven years, I’ve made a habit of  taking advantage of Thanksgiving weekend to head down to Montreal for a quick visit home. Since moving to Ontario back in 2005, I’ve returned home every three months or so to spend time with my folks and friends.

It’s easy to get caught up in a certain routine from trip to trip, visiting the same reliable places. For the sake of keeping up with the times so to speak, I try, as much as possible, to at least venture out to one new place per visit. With that in mind, friend and freelance reporter Vincent, suggested we explore boulevard Saint-Laurent and its surroundings through Rosemont, the Mile Ex and Mile End.

Here are some the place that we visited.

Café – Atelier – Showroom
71, rue Saint-Viateur est

Smoked trout served with labneh and caper berries at Brooklyn.

Hungry and looking for mid century furnishings? If you answered yes to one of the two, the Brooklyn is sure to tickle your fancy. When entering the Brooklyn, you’re welcomed by a series of colourful retro folding chairs. Inside, smiling staff serve up delicious coffee, pastries and a Mediterranean inspired menu.

We took advantage of the tasting platter in order to savour all what the café had to offer. This included: a Spanish tortilla served with avjar (a red pepper and eggplant relish) and mixed greens salad, smoked trout served with labneh, caper berries and mint. We also enjoyed some barbecue-smoked veal served with tomato salad. The meal was capped off with a platter of baba ganoush, muhammara, walnut tzaziki and picked olives and mushrooms. The best way to describe the meal: fresh.

The space in the back of the café is dedicated the owner’s passion for vintage home furnishings. Her collection includes, among others, Scandinavian designed kitchen accessories, an Expo 67 mosaic or even teak furniture, just to name a few.

The Brooklyn proves to be a pleasant midday stop.

Delightful doughnuts

Café Sardine
9, rue Fairmount Est 

Sardine doughnuts are baked fresh daily and served in a Mastercraft tool box.

A short stroll south on Saint-Laurent from where we were, took us to Café Sardine, a restaurant with what seemed like a delightful savoury menu… But we were there to indulge our sweet tooth. Just like Toronto, Montreal is also experiencing a doughnut renaissance. According to Vincent, Café Sardine makes quite the good doughnut. It was only natural taht we give them a try. Displayed in a bright red Mastercraft toolbox, they are baked fresh daily.

On that day, Café Sardine was serving up smoke and sugar, chocolate orange and mint and bourbon. We opted for the latter two. The chocolate and orange was OK. The doughnut itself was tastier than the icing. The mint and bourbon doughnut was delicious. The glaze and the minty taste made for a great afternoon snack.

Big in Japan Bar
4175, Saint-Laurent

The interior impresses with the large angular counter that extends throughout the bar

Located at the corner of Saint-Laurent and Rachel, on can easily walk right past the Big in Japan Bar. The red door, with the tiny inscription of the word “Bar”, Japanese characters and hours of operation are the lone signs of this elegant Montreal hangout.

The interior impresses with the large angular counter that extends throughout the bar. Tea lights lit by fuel stored under the counter punctuate seating. Dark velvet curtains surround the space creating a wonderful setting for meeting up with friends post work or to kick off the weekend.

Whiskey bottles in suspension at the Big in Japan Bar.

Owned by the same person of the behind the Big in Japan, a restaurant located south on Saint-Laurent, the Big in Japan Bar offers an extensive cocktail menu. Whiskey bottles are suspended on the ceiling adding to the décor. The bar also offers a snack menu.

5295, avenue du Parc

Attentive staff prepare delicious cocktails at 5295.

 A recent addition to the Mile End, this new bar has yet to bear an official name. It simply goes by its address: 5295. This laid-back bar takes the visitor on a trip to a 1950s, Hemingwayesque Havana complete with tropical plants and wood and wicker furniture. At the other end of the room, the visitor goes on another journey, this time in a makeshift Moroccan souk with lanterns and bright colors.

5295 offers a great cocktail selection prepared by perfectionist bar staff that take great pride in mixing up the concoction of your choice.

Notre Dame des Quilles
32, Beaubien Est

Strike! A good time was had by all at Notre Dame des Quilles.

I started off my Saturday evening with my friends Jennifer, Vincent-Gabriel and Vincent at Notre Dame des Quilles. This is a perfect neighbourhood hangout where one can sip on suds on the cheap (pints were 4 $ before 7 P.M. and 5 $ after). If hungry, there is a short snack menu focused on comfort food. Items such as small bowl of mac and cheese, fishcakes or a trusty plate of chips served with house made pickled veggies and dip hit the spot just right.

The fun thing is you can also get a bit of bowling in; after all, this place is called Notre Dame des Quilles (quilles being the French word for bowling). The bar has two small bowling alleys where we all tried our best to hit a strike or two. Some of us obviously more luck than others, but regardless, it was all about having a good time. If I lived in the neighbourhood, this place would most likely be my home alley

Hotel Herman
5171, Saint-Laurent

The welcoming center bar at Hotel Herman.

From the casual and laid-back atmosphere of Notre Dame des Quilles we headed south on Saint-Laurent to the elegant Hotel Herman. The first thing one notices when setting foot in the restaurant is the welcoming U shaped bar in the middle of the space. In the back, Hotel Herman staff members are cooking up a storm in open kitchen.

Gaspésie Rock Crab salad with radish and watercress was a success.

The menu is composed of some 16 appetizer sized platters that vary in price from 8 to 23$. The best way to to sample some of chef Marc-Alexandre Mercier’s culinary creations is by sharing a couple of dishes. Over the course of the evening, Jennifer, Vincent-Gabriel, Vincent and myself sampled the venison tartar served with mushrooms, Gaspésie Rock Crab with radish and watercress. We also shared some seared duck breast, seared halibut with celeriac and seared foe gras served on a bed creamy corn and brioche. Everything we tasted was quite good. All four of us were pleasantly surprised by the crab and particularly enjoyed the foie gras and halibut. The flavours and the refined presentation of all the dishes made every bite the most enjoyable.

We capped up our evening of laughs and catching up with some dessert. We all sampled the spiced pound cake topped with squash purée and root beer cream. We also got our chocolate fix with a Manjra chocolate terrine with marrow caramel and hazelnuts. Delish.

It was great to rediscover some interesting addresses in my hometown. What are your favourite spots to grab a bite or a drink in Montreal? Feel free to share them!



Veg Out: a walk on London Ontario’s vegan side

Veg Out

646 Richmond St.
London, ON

Veg Out’s menu

I’m a self-confessed carnivore. I’ll thoroughly enjoy a steak on the barbeque or an oven-roasted chicken. I’ll also devour pretty much any charcuterie plate placed in front of me. Despite
my appreciation of all things meat, I enjoy stepping away from my carnivore habits and tasting some vegetarian or vegan fare.

During a recent trip to London (Ontario, not GB), my partner and I were looking for a place to grab a bite. Wanting to step away from the chains of this world, we put our fate in the hands of the Urbanspoon app. As our luck would have it, the app pointed us to Veg Out, a vegan restaurant located in the heart of downtown London. Without any hesitation we headed in the direction of the restaurant to “veg out” Here’s what we sampled.

Beet Red

Veg Out has a good choice of fresh smoothies and juices. The Beet Red consists in an apple, orange, beet (surprise!) agave and lemon juices. It proved to be a refreshing choice.

Soup’s on!

Then came the soup. I enjoyed a bowl of sweet potato and coconut soup. It’s creamy texture made for a great first course. My partner tasted the raw melon and cucumber soup. It was quite nice, but it essentially tasted like puréed melon, nothing else. The sweetness of the melon was somewhat overpowering. It would have perhaps been better to serve in a shot glass simply as a palate cleanser.

Raw Zucchini Spring Rolls

We then tried some raw zucchini spring rolls, which consisted of thinly sliced zucchini filled with cashew ricotta cheese and topped with avocado and a basil oil drizzle. The rolls were visually appealing. Their taste: a little bland for our liking, but enjoyed them nonetheless because of the overall flavour and texture.

Smokey Seitan Sandwich

Quite possibly one the best seitan dishes that I’ve eaten. Homemade seitan marinated in a smokey barbeque sauce. Seared and topped with tomatoes, caramelized onions, spinach, and dijon horseradish aioli served in a ciabatta bun. I Thoroughly enjoyed the smokiness of the sauce. I would definitely recommend this to anyone headed there.

Final thought

Owner Florine Morrison and her team strive “to create a comfortable atmosphere and “veganize” familiar foods that would appeal to everyone – vegetarian or not.” Needless to say, Veg Out achieves just that. The dishes were both tasty and pretty and the service was the most attentive. Will definitely stop there again next time I’m in London to taste other items on the menu.