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Orangeville-Collingwood-Creemore Mom & Daughters Weekend

Last month I went on a mini weekend away for my mom’s birthday. My mom, sister, and I used to do road trips when my sister was at Dalhousie, so it was fun to revive our girls trips!

Orangeville

We left mid-afternoon on a Friday and headed up to Orangeville first. We shopped around the downtown but got bored after not too long. There was a cute boutique called Noinkees on the main street though, as well as a delicious white chocolate pumpkin spice latte from Mochaberry Cafe!

tremont-cafe

That evening we were staying at Hockley Valley Resort, just outside of Orangeville. For sake of ease we decided to also get dinner there at their on-site restaurant Cabin. But first we had drinks on their patio!

hockley-valley-patio-drinks

Our meal at Cabin didn’t really wow any of us. We all had one of their truffle mushroom bruschetta to start, which were nowhere near as good as they sounded. I also had their Tuscan kale salad (just ok) and an appetizer-sized risotto with corn and bacon (the highlight of the meal for sure). Like the true party animals that we are, we were in bed and asleep by 9 pm – ha!

Collingwood & Area

After a pretty awful breakfast at a diner that shall not be named, we left for Collingwood. I’d never been there before, but it was a super cute place! The downtown was larger than I expected with some great shopping spots for clothing, decor, and art. I was totally obsessed with Lëuk, which has a few different locations for their clothing, housewares, and flowers. Their look is Scandinavian rustic. LOVE! Metra was also a women’s clothing boutique that I really liked.

For lunch we went to The Tremont Cafe on the recommendation of several locals. It 100% lived up to the hype. It had a really nice patio, although we opted to eat inside, which was still bright and airy. I had the warm mushroom salad with blue cheese and their sweet potato soup special. Both were great, but the chocolate torte with salted caramel mousse for dessert was my favourite part! Another cool thing about this cafe is that it’s located in a building that houses several different artists’ studios that you can visit.

tremont-cafe-chocolate-dessert

We finished browsing Collingwood faster than we expected, so after lunch we headed over to Blue Mountain, a popular ski resort and tourist destination with shops and restaurants. But we left about 15 minutes after getting there – it was just too touristy. Instead we headed over to Thornbury, where we walked to their pier and checked out some shops. They also have the Thornbury Village Cider House there that I’d love to check out next time!

thornbury-marina

After a nap back at our hotel we headed out to a later dinner at Azzurra. The appetizers here were amazing! We split an order of risotto balls and polenta fries, both of which were absolutely delicious. I had an interesting sweet potato gnocchi with apples, bacon, and crispy sage – It wasn’t what I was expecting at first bite, but it was good.

azzurra-collingwood

Creemore

The next day we decided to leave Collingwood and go check out Creemore, a small town about 25 minutes away from Collingwood whose claim to fame is the Creemore Springs Brewery. For such a small town, there was surprisingly a lot to see – an art gallery, some houseware shops, and the Creemore 100 Mile Store full of locally sourced foods and goods! We decided to stop for lunch at Creemore Kitchen, which gets great reviews online. I had their CK breakfast sandwich on a housemade biscuit and was very happy with my choice!

creemore-kitchen-breakfast-sandwich

We wrapped up our weekend after this, feeling full and shopped out. But it was nice to spend some time exploring some of Ontario’s smaller towns outside of the GTA. Next year we’re considering Prince Edward County for another mini-getaway. If anyone has been there, hit me up with your recommendations!

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Montreal Girls Weekend

A few weekends ago I went on a long weekend trip to Montreal with one of my childhood best friends. Between living in different cities  and hectic schedules, it’s been hard to find time to see each other lately. So we booked this trip to catch up!

Today I wanted to share with you a bit about the trip:

Where we stayed

We booked a room at Hotel 10, a boutique hotel in the north end of downtown. Our double queen room was pretty standard, but I loved the modern look of the lobby and bar area!

hotel 10 montreal room

It also had some great services, like a courtesy car that will drive you within the city free of charge. Although, it was in high demand, so we only got to use it twice. But the hotel was actually within reasonable walking distance of most places. I say that, but we still Ubered almost everywhere because it was cold!

hotel 10 montreal lobby

Photos by Guy Hamelin. Used with permission from Hotel 10.

What we did

Our first morning in the city we went to Scandinave Spa for massages and their Scandinavian baths. I’m not someone who can relax easily because my mind is always going at full speed. But I think this was the most relaxed I’ve been in ages! The bath area is completely silent, so it sort of forces you to shut down and just be in the moment.

scandinave montreal

Photo used with permission from Scandinave Monreal

The next day we started our morning at the Atwater Market. We had brunch beforehand, but this would have been a great spot to buy some bread and cheese for a picnic. I would have loved to buy some Quebec cheeses to bring back with me, but I didn’t want to have to carry it around all day!

We also spent an afternoon at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, which is actually free of charge for admission to their standard exhibits. I’m not a huge museum buff but I took a bit of art history in university to take a break from all my science courses, and I really enjoyed it.

montreal-boutique

And of course we did some shopping too. We did some shopping at chain stores on Rue Sainte-Catherine and also found some cute clothing and housewares boutiques on Boul St-Laurent  in the Plateau neighbourhood.

Where we ate

We decided to wing our meals for this trip, but realized that was a mistake when we got to our hotel and the concierge strongly recommended reservations at restaurants. We saw the truth to this when we tried to go for dinner at a new Italian restaurant, but they were completely booked. Oops.

But our spontaneity worked out in our favour for a few meals! After our early afternoon at the spa we were starving, and we stumbled upon Modavie for a late lunch. It had such a cozy feel to it and we got a great spot right by the window! We decided to split the mushroom risotto with duck confit and the lamb cavatelli with fennel and sun dried tomato. Both were fantastic!

modavie-montreal

One of my other favourite food spots was Lemeac, one of the top French bistros in the city. We split the salmon tartar for an appetizer – my first time having tartar, which is odd considering how much I love sushi! It was extremely fresh and I loved the hint of mustard flavour to it. My steak frites was a disappointment, but only because I thought hangar steak was the same thing as flank steak. News flash: it’s not. It’s a much tougher cut with a more gristley flavour. The fries were good though! And the French toast dessert more than made up for it. It was like a cakey French toast served in the most addictive maple caramel sauce.

Sunday morning I botched our breakfast plans. We wanted to do bagel sandwiches at St-Viateur, one of the most famous bagel shops at the city. So we took an Uber there… only to find out we were at one of the bakery locations, not the cafe location. We each bought a half dozen bagels to-go anyways, then headed back out to find somewhere to eat. We ended up at the nearby Arts Cafe which had the cutest decor!  I had the shakshuka with fried polenta and Lauren had cod cakes with a poached egg and dill mayonnaise.

arts-cafe-montreal

Other places we ate at were Pullman (just okay), Bevo Bar + Pizzeria (trendy atmosphere but their pizza wasn’t great), and Foiegwa (a hot new French diner).

It was a great trip and one I would definitely do again! Although now that I know there’s another Scandinave Spa 2 hours away from me, I think I see another trip in my future…

What was the last trip you took? 

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My First Trip to NYC

For someone who has never lived in a big city before, I really do love them. I think it has something to do with my introverted nature. I feel like big cities balance out my personality or something. So I like to head into Toronto frequently, which is the closest big city to me. But New York City is in a league of its own. I literally could not wrap my head around how big – and tall – it was!

NYC skyline

There was so much I wanted to see on my first trip to NYC that we ended up making a pretty packed itinerary for ourselves. If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw some of my posts about our trip, but today I want to relive it on the blog by chatting about what I ate, did, and drank!

NYC-eat

I’ll start with one of my favourite parts of the trip – the food, duh. For me this trip was as much about the restaurants as it was about the sightseeing. And it’s not just because I like to eat (true as that might be), it’s also because I feel like I get such a good grasp on the culture of a city through its food.

H&H Midtown Bagels East

So naturally we started with its bagels. For our first lunch we hit up H&H Midtown Bagels East, which had a fantastic selection of fillings, although I wasn’t crazy about the bagels themselves (I’ve yet to have a bagel better than JC’s Bagels in my hometown!).

New York pizza was also an iconic meal we knew we had to partake in. So on our third morning after seeing the 9/11 memorial site and the Statue of Liberty, we took a quick jaunt over to Brooklyn for a meal at Grimaldi’s thanks to recommendations from friends and family. We had a custom pizza which ended up being overpriced IMO, but it was still pretty tasty and a relatively cheap meal for NYC.

grimaldis-pizza-NYC

But the standout meal of the trip for both me and John was Lafayette where I had the most mindblowingly delicious duck bolognese pasta. If there was every a meal that would cause me to go reenact When Harry Met Sally (you know the scene I’m talking about) in a restaurant, this would be it.

Lafayette Grand Cafe: Duck bolognese pasta with fried rosemary

Other notable eats were crostini at Fig & Olive, this insane plate of potatoes and vegetables covered in cheese at Raclette, huevos rancheros at The Smith (although thumbs down to their imposter French toast), and an acai bowl at Two Hands. I also had my first nut-free ice cream parlour experience at A La Mode Shoppe. For most kids, going out for ice cream is just your average Friday night. For me, it was non-existent because of my allergies. So yeah, this experience was a pretty big deal to me! And a delicious one, my goodness.

A La Mode Shoppe ice cream

NYC-do

We did more than just eat in NYC though – we also spent a ton of time walking everywhere. By the end of each day our feet were so tender we could barely drag ourselves back to our hotel room. And then we woke up and did it all over the next day. Honestly I had such a blast just walking through the neighbourhoods and soaking them in.

me-and-john-nyc

But we also hit up some hot spots like the Chelsea Market, a smorgasbord of restaurants and food stands offering everything from lobster to noodles to doughnuts. I grabbed some grub at Los Tacos No. 1 as well as a chocolate ganache cupcake from the nut-free bakery Eleni’s.

los-tacos-no-1

To get to the market, we walked the High Line, a stretch of old railway converted into a walkway above the city. It was lined with greenery and had gorgeous views of the city on the one side and the Hudson River on the other. If you love walking with good views, I also recommend walking the Battery Park City Esplanade along the Hudson River.

High Line, New York City

Thanks to John’s parents we also had tickets to see Wicked, which I really enjoyed. The music wasn’t all that catchy to me, but I loved the storyline and seeing how it was woven into the story of The Wizard of Oz. For a lower key evening the previous night we had reservations at the Comedy Cellar. This came highly recommended to us and it didn’t disappoint!

To escape the city for a while, we spent the better part of an afternoon wandering Central Park, which is so much bigger than I imagined! And I quickly learned that just because shoes are comfortable for an hour of walking, it doesn’t mean they’re comfortable for 20km of walking. Womp womp. Luckily we found a pharmacy close by to the park to stock up on band aids!

central-park-fountain

And of course I probably can’t talk about what to do in NYC without mentioning shopping! We found a lot of great spots from 5th Avenue to Soho to the Meatpacking District to Bleeker Street. Yep, we did a lot of shopping (well, I did). Tip: If your men are getting tired, drop them off at the cafe at Bloomingdales for a beer while you spend hours getting lost in their shoes!

NYC-drink

It’s not a vacation without a little bit of imbibing (bonus if it’s day drinking)! On our second day in the city I saw one of the most beautiful patios I’ve ever seen at The Standard Grill, which was reason enough to stop for a post-lunch drink. I just had a riesling, but I wish I’d ordered John’s lime and basil cocktail.

We were also lucky enough to get reservations on our last evening at PDT, although they weren’t easy to come by – John had to call them 53 times (not even joking) at the designated time before he actually got through! It was worth it for sure though – I think the special Pimm’s cocktail the bartender whipped up for me was one of the best drinks I’ve ever had.

the-standard-grill-patio

NYC, you were grand. Until next time!

Have you ever been to NYC? Have you been to any of these places? What were your favourite things to do, eat, and drink there?

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