Sep 11 2011

northern exposure: a trip to burlington and montreal

Sunset at the Inn at Shelburne Farms

Joseph and I have been trying to get to Burlington, VT all summer. We wanted to go to celebrate our second anniversary back in June, but our plans changed when I had to go to DC for work. We rescheduled for the weekend of July 4th, but then my knee surgery was scheduled for July 1st and we had to cancel yet again. But with both of our birthdays at the end of August, we were determined to finally make it north and celebrate. We decided since this short vacation was so long in the coming, we would add Montreal to our itinerary so we could explore this culinary city and Joseph could practice his French (he’s been teaching himself!).

Burlington is not only a great town full of nice people, interesting shops, good food, and beautiful scenery, but it’s a really nostalgic place for me. My grandparents lived there and I grew up looking forward to our vacations in Vermont. One of my favorite places in Burlington (in the world, actually) is the Restaurant at the Inn at Shelburne Farms. Shelburne Farms is a nonprofit environmental education center with a 1,400-acre working farm nestled on the shores of Lake Champlain. The ingredients that the restaurant uses come either from their own farm (they even make their own cheese!) or from other Vermont farmers, making for some incredibly fresh and flavorful new American cuisine.

Food from Restaurant at the Shelburne Inn

We decided to eat outside, overlooking Lake Champlain and an extraordinary sunset. Joseph got a quail appetizer and a lamb entree, while I got acorn squash soup to start and a lobster and scallop dish (how could I pass that up?). Choosing dessert was nearly impossible because I wanted one of everything, but we finally settled on a peach and berry tart, which was bright and juicy. I am desperate to go back and try the raspberry chocolate upside-down cake. It just sounded too heavy after all the food that we’d had, but I can’t stop thinking about it two weeks later.

That night we settled into our super quaint, charming 18th century B&B in Williston and awoke to a steady rain (courtesy of Irene) and an enormous breakfast of Belgian waffles and fresh peaches. We had hoped to spend a little more time on Burlington’s Church St., an outdoor pedestrian shopping area full of boutique shops, cafes, and street musicians, but with the rain we decided to head to our next destination: Montreal, Quebec. We had naive hopes of trying to get there before before the worst of the rain, but the rain traveled right along with us, leaving us with a very soggy afternoon in Montreal. Continue reading


Sep 18 2010

ginger-miso halibut in shiitake and edamame broth with soba noodles

While we were in DC celebrating my Dad’s, Joseph’s and my birthdays, my mom wanted to cook a meal together (well, my dad’s very helpful participation was on the cleaning up side of things).  Joseph found a striped bass recipe on that looked pretty good.  My mom had some beautiful halibut already, so we trooped off to the new Whole Foods in their neighborhood for the rest of the ingredients.  And what a Whole Foods it was!  For the most part, it was just a nice grocery store and not really that different from the one we go to in Cambridge.  But in the center of the store lays a total trap for suckers like me: salt, honey, and olive oil bars.  I got small samples of a merlot salt and another, very fine, powdery salt (I forgot the name!) that we got to use as a finishing salt for the halibut, but totally forgot all about. Oops.  Anyway, the bags were so small that when they tried to weigh them at the checkout, the weight didn’t register so we got them for free.  Score!

I really wish we had a salt bar at our Whole Foods because I keep looking at this $20 bottle of Himalayan pink salt that comes with its own little salt grater and oh, I want it so much.  Like I said, I’m a total sucker for that kind of thing and I would be much better off with a little .5 oz bag of it than a whole jar just because I want the salt grater!  Why would I need a salt grinder?  For the Himalayan pink salt!  When would I use it?  I don’t know! Continue reading


Sep 15 2010

macaron colorwheel

Ok, I’ve been terrible about posting.  It’s been such a busy summer with nearly every weekend out of town and I admit, I’ve totally slacked off on the blogging.  The good thing about all the traveling (besides seeing friends and family!) was getting to try more macarons!  If you’ve been following pixelated crumb at all, you know that I’ve been searching (here and here) for the best stateside macaron.

While we were in DC a week and a half ago to celebrate my dad’s birthday, we went to Praline in Bethesda, MD.  The chef who instructed my pastry class at L’Academie de Cuisine about 4 years ago told us that Praline had the only decent brioche in the DC area, so it seemed like a good bet that they would have good macarons. Continue reading


Aug 24 2010

macaron expédition

Remember my search for a macaron that rivaled the one I got in France?  Well, I hadn’t given up the search, but until this past weekend, the only other macarons I had tried were the ones from the River St. Whole Foods in Cambridge.  They were good, fine, whatever, but not worthy of their own post.  Luckily my sister-in-law, Jordan, tipped me off that Joyce Bakeshop in Brooklyn has amazing French macarons.  Now, a tiny disclaimer here that Jordan and her husband Mark are actually good friends of Joyce and her husband.  That said, this place is awesome, all family connections aside. In addition to the great vibe and friendly, helpful staff (definite bonuses, but let’s not kid ourselves about the most important component of a bakeshop!), the goods here are are more than good.  The shop has shelf after shelf of delectable treats of all kinds (chocolate cakes, fruit tarts, and puff pastry, oh my!) that I just can’t decide between.

I could go on and on, but it would make me too hungry and not to mention depressed because I live 4 hours away.  But we were in New York this weekend visiting Mark and Jordan (and little almost 2-year-old Amelia!) and for a wedding luncheon and frankly, there was no way I was leaving the state without going to Joyce’s and getting a macaron.  We went Saturday night but alas, it was too late in the day and they were out of macarons.  So we tried again the next afternoon on our way out of town.  Success! The second that I saw that they had macarons I ran and  told the guy at the counter that I needed one of every flavor.  I was in such a rush that I forgot to ask what flavors they were, so it’s kind of a guess… but I think we got coffee, vanilla, and salted caramel.

Yum, yum, yum.  These are definitely the best stateside macarons we’ve had!  They had the perfect balance of a delicate crunch of the outer meringue and ooey gooey middle.  The vanilla was quite tasty, but not my favorite of the three (but vanilla rarely – ok, never – is).  The coffee flavor was very subtle and super delicious.  The caramel macaron was also quite good, but what I really loved was the salt.  I wonder what kind of salt it was?  The big flaky grains had a really sharp flavor and I wish I had some in my cupboard.  I don’t know, maybe it was kosher salt after all and the yummy macaron just heightened the flavor experience.  All in all, I strongly suggest you begin planning your next trip to Brooklyn right now and make sure you get to Joyce’s early enough to get yourself a macaron (or 10).