Showing posts from September, 2012

Butterfly Dreams

The province of Monteregie is nicknamed the "Garden of Quebec" for a very obvious reason.  The area is filled with lovely pastoral landscapes of vineyards, orchards and artisan farms. But an unexpected bit of bucolic wonder was the butterfly aviary tucked inside of Ferme Guyon farm and horticulture center. A hundred species of butterflies float around in the specially created ecosystem and I tried to spot as many as I could. It was tricky, they fly away quickly and their wings blend in with plant leaves. After a few tries, I discovered that it's best to sit still and let them fly near you. Before I knew it, a toffee-colored butterfly was relaxing on my purse. And then another came to rest on my bright blue pants leg. As visitors bustled around  furiously snapping pix, I grabbed the best images of all just by being still. I think there's a lesson in that somewhere...

Expanding Experiences With The Passport Party Project

Volunteering and giving back has always been an important part of my life. I've participated in several travel blogger charity events but I don't think I've experienced so much glee to give back as I did at The Passport Party Project .  The event is a global awareness initiative that gifts 10 passports to undeserved girls in 10 cities across the U.S. Travel blogger Tracey Friley of One Brown Girl gathers travel bloggers in every city to volunteer and guide girls into the expansive world of traveling.  So it was a given that when the event landed in my city of Chicago, I was totally there. The party kicks off in the morning and we lined a table with supplies to create personal travel vision boards. Of course, no party is complete in my book unless there is quality sugar involved.  These cupcakes represent a range of flavors and nations. We provided encouragement for the girls with tales of our travels, a show & tell session and lots of silly  travel pho

Monteregie Culture In A Bottle

Canada is famous for its sweet and smooth ice wine but in Monteregie, I discovered that there is also ice cider. And not the kind that is basically apple juice. Rolling up into La Face Cachee de la Pomme (The hidden side of the apple) cidrerie, I was greeted by apple orchards covered with rosy apples. Some varieties, like Fuji and Gala, stay on the trees until January, so that the cold and wind whip the insides into a concentrated taste. The frozen apples are picked when it's about 15 degrees below zero and the insides have been dehydrated and all that's left is nectar. Aged ice cider is stored in these barrels, La Face Cachee is a pioneer in ice cider and produces 10 different varieties. The founding president of La Face Cachee, Francois Pouliot, ditched his film video career where he worked with musicians like Celine Dion, to develop ground-breaking ice ciders. The ciders or apple ice wines as they are sometimes called, range from 8% -18% alcohol levels and must

A Quebecois Taste of Spain & England

Noted for its free-spirited blend of cultures, Canada is a country that I always enjoy visiting for that very reason. But I have to admit my surprise when I rolled into the village of Hemingford in the rural region of Monteregie, Quebec, to discover that a British pub was the most popular dining spot. Quebec is so very French that I didn't expect such an Anglophile outpost. Equipped with stocks of ale (listed in French of course) and legendary fish and chips, I thought Witsend  Resto Pub was a quaint anomaly in a haven of French culture. Then I spotted this sign, above. I'm a big fan of sangria but never in all of my travels, have I ever heard of green sangria. The waitress shot me an incredulous look. Apparently, green sangria is the thing in Quebec and I was missing out. What makes the sangria so quintessentially Quebecois is the little fact that it's made from apple ice wince harvested at an orchard just a few miles away. The taste was smooth and fruity with