A Castle Picnic

Sunday, August 16, 2015

This morning started with pizza for Seline from Coquelicot. Her pizza was topped with tomatoes, anchovies, cheese, and some herbs. She absolutely hated it and ate less than five bites before throwing the rest in the garbage. I was so mad at her! I don’t like wasting food. My brekkie, on the other hand, wasn’t wasted but waist-ed.

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I had a delicious pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant) filled with ground almonds and pine nuts. This croissant was dreamy and definitely one of the best I’ve ever had. It was reheated in our toasted oven and came out perfect.

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Enjoyed with a cool glass of milk! The buttery, flaky tops reminded me of Chinese pineapple buns and were amazing. There was just enough chocolate to balance the buttery, flaky layers. I could definitely taste the pistachio and almonds – not just sugar. I will be buying this again if we revisit Coquelicot Bakery.

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Maggie gave Seline a big chocolate egg, which she shared with Alexandre. Then, we set off for the market in the Old City. There is a market almost every morning, selling everything from cheese to fish to bread.

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We walked and gawked at the traditional French buildings and colourful clothing, umbrellas, and bags that were for sale. Some people made crepes in booths on the sides of the street and others sold jewelry. It was crowded and so much fun!

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Rotisserie chickens were roasting, and fresh WHOLE (and I mean WHOLE!) chickens were for sale. There were also plenty of fresh baguettes and garden-green lettuce.

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We stopped by Monoprix, a grocery store, for other essentials like Compte and Camembert cheese, and dessert (yogurt and panna cotta). Alexandre wanted a coleslaw so we picked up a package of that as well. Check out these TINY containers of eggs! At Costco, we are used to buying containers of 36, or more often 48 eggs. I was so shocked to see this teeny carton of only 4 eggs – how cute!

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We walked around the corner to feed some swans. There are no swans in Vancouver as far as I know, or even BC. They were elegant and interesting to watch.

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So many French people walk down the streets clutching (or even chomping, sometimes!) on a baguette. I was tempted to!

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Seline likes swans and lakes too 🙂

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At the Chateau Vaux-le-Vicompte, we had a looooong 40-minute drive and another suuuuuuuuuper long 40-minute walk to the picnic place. I was carrying a cooler of water and wine in the hot sun and was so happy when we finally set down the picnic blanket to eat at around 2:45.

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My lunch was scrumptious and we had quite the view! My plate featured fresh baguette from the market, two triangles of Camembert, cucumber, Compte, melon, green grapes, sundried tomatoes, and proscuitto. Seconds on that super sweet melon!

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Seline’s favourite part of lunch was the baguette with sundried tomatoes and Compte. She wasn’t a big fan of the Camembert and didn’t have a nip of produce, but had three or four chunks of baguette. Alexandre enjoyed some Pringles, bread, Camembert, and coleslaw.

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We also bought dessert at the market: macarons and financiers.

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Our macarons were pistachio, coffee, and vanilla. I had a great pistachio macaron and Seline chose a coffee by mistake, thinking it was chocolate. Apparently the coffee one was quite good, but she liked the vanilla one better (she shared with Maggie and offered me a bite – I still prefer the pistachio).

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These macarons are so different from Pierre Herme’s. They are more cookie-like and dense, with less filling. Pierre Herme uses a thick layer of fluffy, flavourful and airy cream, but this had barely a smear. The texture was different as well. Rather than being crunchy outside with a crisp crust, and then chewy inside, this was textured all the way through.

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We also packed up the three financiers for dessert, and I took half but later ate another half. 🙂

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I prefer the one I had before the Tour Montparnasse from Eric Kayser, but they can’t really compare because these were original and Kayser’s were pistachio. The texture was different: these denser and drier, and less crumbly. More of a cake, in my opinion. The flavour wasn’t bad though – although I detected a hint of fridge-ness.

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We took some nice photos of Maggie and Eric 🙂 They kind of remind me of my aunt Mimi and uncle Charles.

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Seline and I were lucky to get this lovely shot with the beautiful chateau in the background!

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Our afternoon was enjoyable and quite eventful – Alexandre tossed his shoe into the lake and we had a gnat problem, but “c’est pas greve” (it’s not serious).

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I really miss yoga and skating!

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Alexandre demanded that we take lots of photos on timer, and these two were the best!

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When it started to get super hot at around 3:45, we were ready to trek all the way back. The walk back was much, much slower because we were tired and the bags were almost as heavy as before. Alexandre needed Mama to carry him for a little bit while Seline and I called his name.

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Isn’t the lightning amazing today? We are so lucky to get another sunny day. The background looks almost like a green screen but I swear it’s real. 🙂

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As we left, Maggie pointed out a peacock! Whoa.

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We did some gift shopping, but before we got back into the car, we decided to have some cold drinks and snacks to celebrate the hard walk. White chocolate ice cream bar for Seline, and a chocolate-vanilla cone for Alexandre. Maggie and Eric had Coca-Colas and I was fine with the water I’d packed.

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Unfortunately wasps started swarming around us and flying INTO the coke cans! I think this can had three or four wasps inside.

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It’s hard to make dinner on Sunday in France because all the stores are closed! No restaurants are open, and supermarkets shut down early. We had to make do with what was left in the fridge because we didn’t plan ahead and had nothing in the freezer. Voila: salad with balsamic olive oil dressing, cucumbers with peanut satay sauce, deep-fried pork spring rolls and mantou, and more salad greens with mint for the spring rolls.

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The satay sauce was quite good but was made from a powder (not from scratch like I usually do). I prefer the one made from scratch because powdered mixes contain anti-caking agents and flavour enhancers. Once in a while, this is okay. Alexandre drank the salad dressing so Sel and I enjoyed the sweet, fresh greens with lots of Compte cheese.

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Eric made some special French mashed potatoes. These were made with a potato ricer and were so, so creamy! We both topped ours with a sprinkle of truffle salt. So good! Honestly one of the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever eaten. He cooked them in boiling, salted water for 35 minutes before ricing and adding S + P, butter, and milk. Amazingly creamy!

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Dessert was the yogurt that I chose from Monoprix. I am still in love with La Fermiere! New flavour this time is chestnut. I liked this even better than vanilla (there is a layer of vanilla on top of the sweetened chestnut, though), but the nutty chestnut was exquisite. It tasted like some sort of brown sugar-nut jam.

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Seline had a panna cotta, sans compote.

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It is 7:30 AM on Monday morning now. I’m going to wash my face, get dressed (looks like a hot day today!) and head to the local bakery for some fresh croissants for the family. I slept much better last night and have lots of energy for the exciting day I have planned: we will be walking from the Arc de Triomphe down the Champs-Elysees to the Place de la Concorde. Hopefully Seline has as much energy has I do today! Cheers and have a great week 🙂

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