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Sunday, January 29, 2012

[Snowshoeing] Walking on the snow (@ Gatineau park)

We tried snowshoeing with kids for the first time last Saturday,
We wanted to make sure that kids would like snowshoeing before we buy them their own pairs of snowshoes.

We crossed the bridge between Ontario and Quebec to go to Gatineau park (Le Parc de Gatineau in French).

Gatineau Park is the Capital’s Conservation Park.
It's located in the National Capital Region which includes Quebec's Outaouais region, just north of Ottawa, Ontario. 
The park is a 361 km² of land to the west of the Gatineau River. 
The official website is here
I love every season of Gatineau park.

It offers beaches, camp grounds, picnic areas, and hiking & snow trails.
You can also visit Mackenzie King Estate, where you can see the life and times of Canada’s 10th prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King. There is a restaurant too, where you can enjoy the park and afternoon tea.

It's beautiful in every season,
but especially in the winter.

We left (relatively) early in the morning,

we dropped by Tim Horton's to buy breakfast for the three men of our household.

I only had a large steep tea, with a milk and a cream of course, since I already had my breakfast at 5 over the Women's final of the Australian Open, between Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova.
(BTW, Azarenka wone the championship easily in striaght sets.)
I am a black tea (with milk+cream) person. :)
I don't drink coffee.

Yesterday was the first day of NHL All star game.

It took us about 45 minutes to get to the Gatineau park.
We rented snowshoes and walked on our boots, to a short trail.

We arrived the beginning of the trail as soon as we crossed this small bridge.

The stream under the bridge was completely frozen.

Mr.D tied boys' snowshoes before he did his own.
That is why Mr. D was behind us, only for a couple of minutes though.

Remi enjoyed walking on the snow right away.

And it was the same with Pablo.
He was not afraid of going off the trail!

I didn't worry about Remi, as he is pretty active and patient in most things while Pablo is only 5 years old and has shown impatience and whining in a few occasions.

We crossed a few family with kids/toddlers on the sleds.

I'd love to know what kind of animals leave these kinds of pawprints.

We will register "Animal Tracking on snowshoes" when Pablo turns 8. It's a guided program offered by Gatineau park, where you can learn about animal winter habitats and living.

(The program recommends for the adults and the kids from grade 3) where we will get to learn which animal pawprints are which.

The brothers on snowshoes.

I'm really glad both of them loved snowshoeing very much.

We are now sure that it's worth buying them their own pairs of snowshoes. 

Pablo fell on the snow a few times, but it was just fine!

Snowshoeing Remi~

I understand why he looked down all the time in the photos.

It's a strange and funny feeling that you don't sink into the snow and that is why you tend to look at your feet so often while snowshoeing.

The three guys of my life here in the photo.

Snowshoeing Pablo and his mommy.

It's a pretty good workout.
If you don't mind, or rather love walking and snow, it's an accessible nice winter activity.

After snowshoeing, we came back to Ottawa and went to Dunn's Famous to have lunch as Pablo insisted~

We parked the car about 100m away from the restaurant, we passed by Czech consulat to go to Dunn's Famous.

I order a smoked meat poutine since I wanted to have both smoked meat and poutine. 
The boys shared a big smoked meat sandwich. Mr. D ordered an Italian poutine which doesn't make sense.
How can a poutine be "Italian"? It had tomato meat sauce on top of poutine.

 On the way to the restaurant we passed by Fairmont Château Laurier hotel where the all the NHL stars were staying. The front of the hotel was busier than usual.

The boys fell asleep on our way back home!

It was a nice & enjoyable weekend morning & afternoon.

The weekend is already gone :(
I will be so busy like crazy tomorrow and tomorrow is Monday, to make it worse.:(

But still it will pass and it will be another weekend soon!


Friday, January 27, 2012

[Raclette] The Alps style cheesy treat

I have nostalgia for the Alpes.

 I spent a winter and a summer in Annecy, a near small French city near Swiss border when I was 20.

I met great friends there and they are still my dear friends.

Raclette cheese is a Swiss semi-firm cows-milk cheese, most famously used to make a cheese dish under the same name, "raclette".

It was in Annecy where I had an encounter with raclette, my cheesy sweetheart.

Raclette is both a name of Swiss /Savoy region cheese and  Swiss/French dish. 

The way how you eat is to heat the cheese and scrape off (= "racler" in french) the melted cheese. Traditionally the wheel of big raclette cheese placed beneath the heat, then the melted part will be scraped onto a plate. 

You eat this melted cheese with small potatoes, cornichon(=gherkins), and charcuteries(= cold cut, dried meat, ham, salami etc).
You will enjoy raclette especially in the winter since it is a very rich meal. 

The word "raclette" is derived from the French verb "racler" which means "to scrape".
The dish has quite a long history. It can go a few hundred years back. In the old days, Swiss and French cow herders of the Alpes region, put the cheese near the open fire in the mountains, and scraped the cheese melted and ate it with bread.

In Annecy or Chamonix, you can find a restaurant that serve the raclette in old-fashioned way.

This was the last time we went to Chamonix when Remi was 19 months old at La Taverne de Chamouny in Chamonix.

It's a great Savoy restaurant where you can have all the local traditional dishes.
If you have a chance to visit Chamonix, I highly recommend this one. 

At home, you'd probably use an electric table-top grill with mini pans.

I won a gift card of the Future shop at the company Christmas party (yay!), with which we bought a brand new Raclette grill to replace our old old one at Boxing day sale.

You don't need to cook anything.
The only thing you need to cook is potatoes. :)

2-4 different sorts of Dried meat/ jambon
2lbs mini potatoes
(1/2 lb potatoes per person)
raclette cheese, sliced
(1/2 lb cheese per person)
cornichon pickles (gherkins) - more sour the better
Pickled onions (option)

How to eat:

1. Rinse potatoes and boil.
Don't peel potatoes. 

2. Place jambon/ salami/ and(or) dried meats on a serving plate.

Place sliced cheese on a plate.

3. Turn on the raclette grill.
(heat is from the top instead of the bottom)

4. Place slices of raclette into small nonstick pans, called coupelles. Place no more than one slice in a pan.

Place the coupelles (small pans) underneath the broiler on the raclette pan.
It takes about 1 minute, or even less to have the sliced cheese melted.

5. Scrape(Racler in French) the melted cheese over boiled potatoe and sliced cold meats.
Cornichon pickles, and pickled onions can be served on the side. 

Kids enjoy the raclette meal.
I think it's a great social meal.
and, of course it's soooooooooooooooooo good~

Bon Appétit!