Hello……It Began in 1882!

We woke up in Barcelona on the Monday morning to what looked to be a smog filled sky.  Turns out the winds had shifted and were blowing the smoke from the fires around Girona into town.

We made our way to the busiest breakfast buffet EVER and began our day.  The plan was to head out on the street tram and head to the Barcelona Zoo – the last stop on the tram line.  The day was predicted to hot and muggy, so being in the shade, under trees, in the zoo, seemed to be a good option for the kiddies and I. Not to mention that the kiddies have been so SUPER excited by zoos in Europe, and all the animals that call them home.

The Barcelona zoo is MASSIVE.  So much so, that the brochure gives you routes for half the zoo one day the other half the next.  This freaked me out a bit not knowing what I was getting my self into since we were only doing the one day! However once we entered and made our route, I knew we would see all that we wanted to see and it wouldn’t take us 2 days!

Syd slept through a big part of the zoo in the stroller which gave Brodie and I some time to look at and chat about the animals we were seeing.  His highlights were of course the Orangutans, but he was also super excited to be seeing Owls, and learning about Bats.  The only big cat we saw on this day was the Cheetah, and much to Brodie’s dismay was just laying in the shade under a tree.

We stopped for lunch which turned out to be a bit of a gong show…. it took way to long for what it was.  It however turned out to be a nice reprieve from the bombardment of animal questions that was being thrown at me from the little man.  After we left our rest stop, we saw the line up for the dolphin show.  It took some convincing, but the kiddies decided that they wanted to wait in line for he show.  It was about a 45 minute wait, but as the show began Brodie turned to me and proclaimed “This is the best show…. EVER”.  Both kiddies were enthralled by the 2 dolphins being put through their routine.  The whole show was done in Spanish so while we couldn’t understand  a thing that was being said, but with all the jumps, and the splashes…. well the kiddies were throughly entertained and LOVED it!

After our full day at the Zoo we decided to head back to the hotel and hit the outdoor pool.  It was here that Brodie made fast friends with Ryan…… a boy on vacation from his life in Geneva.  The pool at the hotel was funny that there was no shallow end……it was the same depth end to end.  There was a really shallow kiddies pool, but everyone wanted to be in the deep pool given that is was warmer than the shallow kiddie pool (weird).  After about 2 hours of endless diving with Ryan, and seeing who could hold their breath the longest, it was time to call it a day and get cleaned up for dinner.  Brodie and Ryan made plans for a “pool meet-up” for the following day.

Tuesday in Barcelona saw us purchase a 2 day pass, and hop “on”, the Aqua coloured “hop on hop off” busses for a tour around town.  Our destination was Mount Tibidabo, to take in the views of the city and the amusement park at the top.  It was a hot and sunny day, and with no clouds in sight, I forgot the most important thing in the hotel room….. the kids hats! Uuugghhhhh….. no hats meant that with my über sensitive boy, who still had his heat rash,  we were sitting in the lower, covered (but air-conditioned) part of the bus.  We missed seeing a lot of the amazing architecture that first day, but we did hop “off” the bus at the astonishingly beautiful Sagrada Familia.

The Sagrada Familia is one of Barcelona’s most famous Antoni Gaudi architectural landmarks.  With that being said…. most famous or not….. I knew that the kiddies would never make it through a walk through of the building so we ended up just walking around it, taking a bazillion pictures and, commenting on just how beautiful it truly is.  Not to mention just how long it is taking to build….Hello…… it began in 1882!

Now sometimes hopping “off” the “hop on hop off” busses isn’t the best idea….. we lined up for about 35 minutes waiting to get back “on” a bus to take us to the Mount Tibidabo stop. It was at this stop that we would then hop on the Tramvia Blau tram, which would  take us to the Peu de Funicular, which would then take us to the top of Mount Tibidabo. Yes…….. it was a crazy day of transit!

The kids were having a blast, but were happy to finally get to the top of the mountain.  The views of Barcelona were absolutely stunning!  We honestly could see forever!  The amusement park was closed, but there was a carousel ride that was operating and a place to buy coffee and have a snack!  We would have stayed longer had the amusement park been open, but the kids were happy to ride in circles on the carousel overlooking Barcelona, and that was good enough for me!  We eventually made our way back to the bottom of the tram line and decided that we would take the metro back to the hotel.  The metro was pretty easy to navigate without any major problems until we got back to our stop…… now to decide which exit to take.  Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe… Yeah, we picked the wrong exit….. placing us farther from the hotel than needed… oh well, next time we would know!

It had been a long day to get back where we started from, so it was time to just chill.  Brodie was anxious to get to the pool and connected with Ryan…. they did have a plan for a  “pool meet up” after all.

Cooling off in the pool, after taking in a lot of amazing Barcelona sites was the best way to end our busy day! Oh my……thank goodness for our awesome pool!

Enjoy Your Daily Dose

Xox

B.

Barcelona Zoo

Crusin’ at the Barcelona Zoo

looking a little thin… No?

Dolphin Show

Zebras!

Elephants!

Sagrada Familia

We didn’t buy the book!

We have arrived!

Super heroes follow us EVERYWHERE!

Crazy!

Our Hop on Hop off bus tour

My Little Man

Tramvia Blau Tram

Peu de Funicular

Our AMAZING view… Hello Barcelona!

Hey look …… it’s a carousel!

The top of Barcelona

Roof top pool and bar

Our fabulous sunset to end a fabulous day

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So…… I can’t sleep!

OK…. so I can’t sleep!

So upto now I have been pretty methodical in my approach to getting ready for our trip.  You know……getting things in order, not really thinking too much about the days or number of hours till we leave, and how long we will be gone for (…..yikes 50 days) ect, ect, ect. I was doing pretty well until tonight.  Tonight that is, until while getting ready for bed, and brushing our teeth, Mike turns to me and says with a great big grin “38 hours…. no…. it’s less than 32 hours till we leave!”  “Make sure you get some good sleep…. its gonna be a crazy long day with the kids….. 5 hours to Montreal.  3 hour layover. 5 hours to Paris. 5 hour drive to Heidelberg”.

Ok I knew all of this but…….

Wait …. WHAT…. OMG…. REALLY!

Yes its gonna be one crazy travel day for the Bain family!

With that said, I think I was doing pretty well, since I had today planned for my packing day for Brodie and I.  The suitcases were brought out of storage almost a week ago, and they were ready to be filled.

I placed all that I thought Brodie would need for about a weeks worth of clothing (all types of weather conditions were thought of) on his bed, and did the exact same thing for my clothing.  Now on a friends advice, I left it there so I could come back to and see if it could be pared down…… Hahahaha …. not a chance could it be pared down (but thanks for the advice Ray)!  I actually added things! Uuuuggghhhh!

As of tonight, I would say that Brodie and I are at about 90% packed and ready to go.  Mike says not to worry…. and that “this is the most prepared we have EVER been for a trip!”.  So that brings me to not being able to sleep…. my mind is racing on things I may be forgetting, and things I wanted to get done before we left and now have a slim (now read NO) chance of getting done!

I’m not sure how, this trip, that we have been talking seriously about since September, is now less that 32 hours away!  I actually wish we were already on the plane because I then could stop thinking about everything I “need” for this trip!

Come on Friday 9:00am……. I just need to get on that plane….. If not just so I can finally relax, sleep, and forget about everything I “need” for this trip!

Enjoy your Daily Dose

Xox

B.

Ha…. not all this is coming with us… we just needed options!

All set and ready to go… on this end anyway!

A Big Ol’ Bowl of Magic and a Half Marathon

This past week saw the kiddies get hit hard by a virus. To say it has not been the best week in our house would be an understatement, but I think we have made our way through the worst of it….. well for the kiddies anyway!

I was unsure what to cook for our travels this week.  With everyone either sick or on the verge of being sick, cooking a themed dinner was not high on my list of priorities. It never seems to fail that when you are really looking forward to (not to mention training really hard for) something, a virus or illness always seems to creep into the picture!  It happened to Mike earlier this year when he was to run the “First-Half” Half Marathon, but became so ill he was unable to move.  I don’t think he got out of bed for 3 days!!  So this was my weekend, and it was an important one.  I was to be running in one of my favourite races, the Vancouver Half Marathon……. I was not about to get sick!

As I was going through The Food of Spain cookbook, my initial thought was that a soup would be nice.  Something warm, super easy, yummy. Everyone would feel better!  There were a few different recipes for soup in the book, but the one I kept coming back to was Gazpacho.  It’s not a warm soup, but a cold soup, and its best served really, REALLY, COLD!  The thought of all the raw yummy veggies packed full of vitamins was enough to convince me that this is EXACTLY what our family needed!  I wanted to keep with the Tapas style menu and decided to also make Tortilla….. aka Potato Omelette.

Now I have a Gazpacho recipe that I love.  I have no idea where I got it from……  all I know is its on my computer, in my documents folder, and I LOVE it.  With that said, I am trying to stay pretty authentic in my dinners, so I decided to use a recipe in my cookbook.  The  recipe in the book definitely has fewer vegetables than my recipe, (maybe my recipe is the V-8 version), but the one in the book also has the addition of soaked and puree’d bread.  I was totally intrigued by this, and have since found that I REALLY like this little addition.  The bread gives the soup a real nice texture and richness.  The soup was a pretty delicious, but both the kiddies were uninterested (I think due to them both being sick).  Brodie, managed a few big spoonfuls, while little Syd could only bring herself to try just one bite.  I personally, had a second helping of the soup, and then managed to eat all the leftovers on Saturday.

Now…… I wish I could say yummy and good things about the Tortilla that I made.  The recipe even states “such a simple dish, so difficult to perfect…… The Tortilla is the dish by which to judge a tapas bar.”  Uuummmm ….. OK……so I LIKE things to be PERFECT! I really should have read that and decided to try a different recipe…. that was the red flag waving high in the air for all to see! Did I listen…. no… of course not!

Having made this dish, I honestly can’t wait to try this in an authentic Spanish Tapas Bar.   It is the one dish I thought was sooooooo BORING!  I didn’t like how it looked, and I didn’t like how it tasted. Maybe I didn’t add enough salt, maybe the potatoes were cut to thick…. maybe I just didn’t have a clue what I was doing….. I’m still at a bit of a loss on this one, but in no hurry to make it again! Mike however, seemed to REALLY enjoy it, (eating 2 whole pieces).  Brodie had a few bites….. and little Syd, well she had none!  You can bet that this topic it will pop up again on the blog during our travels through Spain!

I am happy to report that both the kiddies and Mike are on the road to recovery.  It is always tough when the kiddies are sick.  Very often, you wish it was you, and that they didn’t have to go through it…… however…… that was not my thought until Sunday at 10:30am. Race weekend was pretty important and I managed to stay healthy enough to have a pretty decent half marathon finishing in 2:14:54.  It was a beautiful new course, in one FABULOUS city! You really should do it if you haven’t… an amazing run…..you won’t be disappointed!

I have no doubt that my determination in not getting sick played a big part in keeping the virus at bay till after race day, however I also think the Gazpacho played an even bigger part with all the freshly pureed vitamins and minerals!  Well it looks like I now need to make another big batch of Gazpacho….. I am getting pretty hard hit with the same thing the kiddies and Mike had…. time for that big ol’ bowl to work her magic!

Enjoy your Daily Dose.

Xox

B.

Fresh Roma Tomatoes blanched and ready to be peeled.

Soup Garnish

A touch of EVOO and a little S&P to mix it all together

Hello Big Ol’ Bowl of Magic

Not my favourite dish…..

For me…. So yummy!

For MIke…..

One of the worlds most beautiful half marathon courses…. on your “bucket list” it should be!

2:14:54  So FUN!

The Little Red Tin of Awesomeness

Well here she is folks:  The Little Red Tin of Awesomeness!

(and I will come back to her importance in a bit!)

This past week, we started our culinary journey just over the border from France and into Spain. Since I  thoughoghly and 100% enjoyed cooking from The Food of France cookbook, I decided to pick up The Food of Spain cookbook.  If you are looking for an uncomplicated, tasty, and authentic meals, these are definitely the books you should check out….. they are pretty great!

When we travel to Spain in July 2012, we will be hitting both the west coast (staying in San Sebastian) as well as the east coast (staying in Barcelona) of Spain. This past week, for our dining adventure, I decided we would be having a couple of different “tapas” (small Spanish savoury dishes), a chicken dish, as well as a seafood dish.

The nights menu consisted of :

Tortillitas de Gambas con Salsa Romesco

Pollo en salsa de Ajo

aka:

Prawn Fritters with Romesco Sauce

Chicken in Garlic Sauce

Sooooooo……. the kids have NOT been exposed a lot of seafood in their short little lives (I know…..weird…..we live on the west coast of Canada).  So with this thought in mind, I thought it was best to “disguise” the shrimp (now this might be a bit of a “no-no” in the book I’m reading – French Kids Eat Everything {and Yours Can Too}), but I haven’t gotten that far in the book, so…….. I made “Tortillias De Gambas”.  I chopped up the shrimp and make a “prawn pancake”, (yes I even called it a “pancake” for Brodie sake) served with a romesco sauce for dipping.

Now cooking these dinners has been a bit of a challenge for me.  The “Chef” in me has really been holding back on my natural impulses for changing recipes.  It has all been for the sake of creating “authentic” national dishes that I have not acted on these impulses.  With that said, and the recipes I chose this past weekend, I really thought that the Prawn Fritters was the one dish, that, so far, could have used a bit of livening up (a hit of lemon zest, some cilantro….. ).  It totally would have brought the dish to life…… but then, maybe not so “Spanish”?!? RIGHT?!?)).

The Romesco sauce was nothing short of AMAZING! My first I thought was that I had made way too much sauce, but it turns out, it was just the right amount since we couldn’t get enough of the stuff, and ate it like it was going out of style!

The Chicken in  Garlic Sauce was  as close to “unbelievable” as you can imagine.  WOW, it was soooooo good!  My total favourite of the night,and maybe even since I stared writing this whole blog thingy.  The caption for the recipe even states…..

“……in a way that is so impressive the dish will soon enter your repertoire of everyday meals”.

To say I was a bit sceptical as I was preparing the dish was a bit of an understatement, but this dish took me by total surprise….  happily, 150% by surprise!  It was so AMAZING…. it really was not something I was expecting from reading the recipe when deciding to put it on our evening menu.  Really, the only reason I picked it, was because it was chicken, and the kids like chicken!

I am happy to say that Brodie LOVED it …. although at one point he stated “my lips are burning a bit”…… yes little man…… it will take some time to get used to the Smoked Sweet Paprika (aka the Little Red Tin of Awesomeness)!  Little Syd (being the tough nut she is…) was not such a fan. I think she is gonna be a hard one to convert (too all types of food) no matter what. Unless of course we are going to Japan…. then I know that girl would EAT!  But since we are not……..

Well that brings me back to “The Little Red Tin of Awesomeness”,

aka… Sweet Smoked Paprika!

I have used this little gem in my Turkey Chilli for a number of years (though, not much else aside from this), and it is the one addition that everyone asks about when they inquire about my chilli.

Now there are a couple of things I learned about whlle making this dinner

1. Sweet Smoked Paprika is in 2 of 3 recipes, so I need to have it on hand.

2. I now need to go and replenish my supply of Sweet Smoked Paprika before Friday and our next “inspired” meal, since it was all used up this past weekend, and you can almost bet its gonna be in at least one of the dishes I decide to make this coming weekend!

If you don’t already have this “Little Red Tin of Awesomeness”  in your pantry….. make your way to the grocery store to get some …… she is a delight to have in your cupboard. You will be happy to have it on hand and to add to just about any of your recipes, especially if you ever intend on cooking traditional Spanish meals!

Enjoy your Daily Dose.

Xox

B.

Hello Romesco….

Mmmmmm…  yummy goodness!

Fritters…. aka “Pancakes”!

Chop chop chop

I see you little red tin of awesomeness!

Tasty… but needs a bit of an “tweak” for my taste

This was beyond AMAZING!

Mmmmmmmm……. the finished product.

$10.00 red and it was so de-lish….

Mikes beer, crafted especially for food pairing… although he didn’t drink it from a champagne glass like directed! Oh Mike!

Looks like the little man is as excited as I am to get to Europe!  I LOVE the Eiffel Tower “space ship”!

The “Unintentional” Food Blog

Ok ….. so…….it looks like I am doing an “unintentional” food blog leading up to our European adventure. Ooooops!

This past weekend, after much internal debate, on how I was letting the kids (and myself) down, I decided that I would NOT be doing a themed dinner with the kiddies…..  ugghhhhhh ………seriously…….. the guilt…. this was my goal leading upto the trip!  So with Mike still away on business, I really couldn’t (now you should really read “didn’t want too”) muster the energy to try and pull off  a European themed dinner.

On Friday night, the kiddies and I were lucky enough to be invited to a friends house for dinner.  Tandori chicken was served. India……. Closer to Europe than Canada,  yes……but, alas, not on our trip itinerary so…..

On Saturday we spent the afternoon, and  well into the evening at 3rd beach in Vancouver. So really, “THE ONLY” thing we could do, was order sushi, and do a “pick up” enroute home.  I did however, once we returned home, boil water for a bowl full of edemame, and then added some super nice sea salt, but really, that is where the cooking ended for me on Saturday night.  Sunday night we were with “Grammy”, and cooking once again, was thankfully, out of my hands.

That brings us to today.

Since Mike was landing at YVR in the late afternoon after 10 days in Europe, my thought was, what better way to celebrate him being home, than with a European inspired dinner!

With my culinary training being mostly French, I decided not to stretch my comfort zone too much, and to once again look to France for inspiration.  I decided it was going to be a relatively easy meal….. Quiche Lorraine.   It’s a dish I thought both kids would enjoy, and, you know…..  it’s not overly complicated.  Brodie IS getting more adventurous with food, and Sydney… well she LOVES eggs…. win-win!

Hahahahaha…..

While shopping for the dinner I saw “THE BIGGEST ARTICHOKES” I had ever seen…..I  then proceeded to think of all the hundreds (and hundreds) of itty bitty small artichokes I cleaned over the years working in a professional kitchen for Artichokes Barigoule…. Now don’t be fooled people….. its “super fun”  cleaning 100’s of baby artichokes!….. you really should try it!  😉

At first I didn’t think too much about the artichokes, but then thoughts kept coming back to me and how much they remind me of France!  I do, however, think it’s mostly from photographs and cookbooks…… and not something that I remember from being there in  April 2000 while on my honeymoon.

It was right then I decided that we would have steamed artichokes and lemon butter as our vegetable accompaniment to our Quiche. YAY!  I also picked up some fresh kale as I knew the kiddies would love to help out with the prep for kale chips.

I had the kiddies pick and wash the kale.  They then helped splash the kale with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and placed it on the trays for the chips.  They were in heaven!  I prepped the artichokes and got them steaming as I knew they would take “a long time to steam” given their size.  The quiche was straight forward. Bacon, eggs, heavy cream, salt and pepper…… I decided to add Gruyere Cheese to the recipe even though the “cookbook” I have didn’t call for it…… the “recipe” that I know has cheese, and that was confirmed by many online searches…… just to make sure.

Dinner took a bit longer to bake then expected, so the kiddies ate the entire bowl of kale chips….. YAY!  Once dinner was on the table, Brodie looked intrigued by the steamed artichoke and lemon butter for dipping, as well by the “slice of egg pie” in front of him.  Sydney however, came to the table, and proclaimed with the most “sour” looking face…… “I don’t want that” and with tears in her eyes, she sat on the floor with her “Playmobil” doll house and sulked.

It turns out that Brodie actually LOVES artichokes… I actually think its a “butter and salt” thing, but I am willing to give it to him since he ate over half of the artichoke leaves! Sydney…. well she has no idea on the “awesome-ness” that she is missing out on!  She refused both the Quiche Lorraine, and the steamed artichokes with melted lemon butter…… and not to mention, SALT!  Since she is “THE BIGGEST” salt fiend around,  I know, she will one day be remorseful….. HELLO…….all that SALT!

Quiche Lorraine….. well……she was delightful and super tasty!  Everyone in the family was in agreement except for “Little Syd”…. hopefully next time little lady!

In the  cookbook I have, it states that Quiche Lorraine is traditional dish served it on “May Day” also known as Labour Day.  It is a French National Holiday and will be held on May 1 2012.  Looks like I’m jumping the gun a bit here, but that was “unintentional”….. pretty much like writing a food blog….. hmmmm…….. interesting.

Enjoy your Daily Dose

Xox

B.

Saturday night at Third Beach in Vancouver….. no…. I wasn’t going to cook!

Hello Lorraine!

The “LARGEST” artichokes EVER…. seriously…..no joke.

The “Little Chefs” cooking’ it up!

Fun with Kale!

The makings for our Quiche

Hello Lorraine… nice to “finally” see you!

Simple and delicious…. Steamed Artichokes with Lemon Butter

The little man is LOVING artichoke and I am super happy….  😉