Monday, August 18, 2014


About three hours north of the US/Canadian border is the most European city this side of the Atlantic: Ville de Quebec. Last week, my husband and I paid a three-day visit to mini-'Pair-ee".

Window boxes overflowing with blossoms

and sidewalk cafes brimming with patrons remind visitors of the city's European cousin.

It's no wonder the city is reminiscent of the old country. Sitting above the St. Lawrence River,

the Chateau Frontenac dominates the horizon.
When you drive into the hotel's courtyard, the bellmen greet you in Quebecois, the Canadian version of French.
With your valise deposited in your room, a walking tour of the hilly city reminds you of the city's European roots. Perhaps it is the tin mosaic roofs between parapet gables...
or the cobbled streets that transport visitors' minds across the Atlantic.

The Old fortified city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Doubtless the new world immigrants brought their love of flowers from the old country.

Canada's history was dominated first by French fur traders,


then by English soldiers.

The result is Canada's version of peaceful coexistence.

Maybe the French nuns taught the children to love their neighbors as themselves,

or maybe it was their Anglican counterparts who reinforced the Lord's love.

Today, conversations in Quebec City flow between French and English without rancor. However, I must hasten to add, their palates have never left Paris.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Last-Minute Dinner & a Movie

I am often a last-minute-Charlie, especially when it comes to entertaining. About Thursday, I think, "Oh, I ought to have some friends over to make the weekend special." It seems most people don't wait so long to make plans, because invariably many opt to "take a rain check". This past weekend was no exception, but thankfully, some of our best friends were available to join us for dinner and a movie.

A Saturday trip to Costco was a life-saver.  As I tasted my way through the aisles, I got menu ideas and scored on a bunch of green spider chrysanthemums.

For an appetizer, I purchased some tasty crackers with a clever brand-name "Food Should Taste Good".  The nutty-a wee-bit-sweet crackers were tasty paired with garlic-flavored humus.

As the foundation of my main course, I chose some pre-rubbed St. Louis spare-ribs. Subsequently, I read on-line that folks have found the Costco pre-rubbed ribs to be too salty. Thankfully, we didn't find them that way. The men especially enjoyed them!

I added Brussel sprouts and fresh corn to the main course. My friend brought a delicious Caesar salad.

As always, the corn was the hit of the night. Lancaster has the best corn in the country, bar none! With cause, our county is dubbed "garden spot of the world". Just up the road from us, a winsome Amish family have a vegetable stand. Their fresh-picked corn is the best of the best. My husband chose several white ears and several bi-colored ears. He also shucked it for me and cut it off the cob! (BTW, Lancaster County cooks swear by the steam-for-three-minute rule. Any less cooking time, the corn isn't hot; any more, the corn is mushy.) 

 I used rolls that I had sampled at Costco. After slicing the rolls and spreading them with butter, we zapped them for less than a minute in the micro-wave. They were perfect.

The grand-finale was some yummy sorbet, also from Costco. The box of Island Way Sorbet contains twelve servings, three of coconut, pineapple, pomegranate and mango flavors.

What I love best is the presentation. You have to agree that coconut sorbet is more tasty served out of a coconut shell...

pineapple sorbet scooped into a tiny pineapple.
The same goes for pomegranate sorbet in a lemon rind...
 and mango sorbet served in the skin of an orange.

 What a simple dessert, light and tasty paired with some delectable fresh sugar cookies available at the corner Amish stand.

To top off the night, we headed to the local movie theatre and caught the spy thriller: A Most Wanted Man. The John Le Carre story is suspenseful and baffling.
This last movie starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman verified the accolades heaped on him after his untimely death. I'd recommend seeing the movie, just to enjoy his disheveled, shuffling personification of a covert German spy.
Vanity Fair photo of Hoffman in A Most Wanted Man

My only word of caution for you: If you decide to repeat my evening, don't wait until the last minute to invite your friends and get tickets. They both might be unavailable.