February 8, 2006

Curse You Global Warming!

This past weekend Christian took me on a trip to Ottawa for Winterlude... but since it was so unbelievably warm and rainy, it might as well as been called Waterlude! :( It looked promising as we rode the train up Friday morning and saw snow out the window, but once we arrived in Ottawa we were greeted by rain. Because of the terrible weather, most events and activities were cancelled. In sum, most of the weekend was spent indoors eating (much to the chagrin of my waistline).

On Friday we had taken the early train at 7am and got into Ottawa at 11:30. We located our bed & breakfast in ByWard Market, and my goodness, the place was absolutely stunning! It was the kind of decor I admire in those architecture mags: stylish, minimalist, European with funky accents and colours. It was a 3-story place where our bedroom was on the first floor, kitchen, dining and living room on the second, and 2 other bedrooms on the third. I spent the next little while taking pictures of the house. Oh and I must talk about the towels. So thick and soft, you can't even keep them tied around your body because they're SO thick! And the blankets... soooo soft! Haha ok I'm finished. We had lunch at Blue Cactus in the market and had the worst waiter who kept ignoring us. Then we walked around Château Laurier and neared Parliament Hill, but the weather was dreary and rainy that we headed into the Rideau Centre for some shopping. Afterwards, we chilled in our room while pigging out on poutine and watching TV. Tom Cochrane was performing at the Snowbowl stage on the canal in the evening so we checked that out for a bit, but we didn't know any of his songs. The canal had been opened that day just for Winterlude, but it was only safe to walk across rather than to skate. So then we walked down to Confederation Park to check out the ice lounge and ice carving competition that had started that day and was to continue until Sunday at noon. For dinner neither of us were that hungry so we decided to have some small apetizer dishes at Milestone's. For over 30 minutes our blind waitress didn't even acknowledge us so we were just sitting there starving away (what's with all these bad waiters?). Finally the host that had seated us realized we had been ignored and got another waiter to serve us. The only upside was that everything we ordered was on the house as an apology. Sweeeet. That evening I tried ice wine for the first time, and it was surprisingly bearable- doesn't burn like the normal wines! I managed a whole half glass worth and I didn't even end up with a pulsing headache... miraculous!

Saturday morning we woke up at 8:15 for breakfast upstairs. Our innkeeper, Anthony from New Zealand, turned out to be an amazing chef and had made us yummy orange strawberry smoothies, and a plate of fruit florally arranged and eggs benedict with creamy hollondaise sauce. *smacks lips* We had been exhausted from the day before and I had problems sleeping with my really puffy pillow, so we just crashed for another couple of hours after breakfast. In the afternoon we took the Sno-Bus to Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau, where they have Snowflake Kingdom, North America's largest snow playground. But once we arrived, all we saw was mud, melting mounds of snow, and people standing at the closed entrace letting everyone know that everything was cancelled. How sucky is that? We considered stealing a Bloc Québecois sign (unfortunately they were secured too well to the lamp posts) before heading back across the river. There was no point in travelling to Dow's Lake either since everything was cancelled there too. We had lunch in the market again at Zak's Diner, where their meals are really fit for two people. We had a yummy strawberry milkshake (dessert #1) and each ordered a sandwhich but we could only manage to eat half: that's how big the meals are o_O. We hung out for a while at the Rideau Centre, then went back to our B&B, where the sleepy head crashed for another 2 hours while I surfed the internet looking up Shih Tzu dogs that I want. His name will be either Puppy or Guiseppe, but Christian suggested Max()... LOL, nerd much? :P I had my hopes up that perhaps later in the evening the canal would be fit for skating, but because of all the rain it was completely closed >_< We walked back to Confederation Park to check out the progress of the ice sculptures. Some were turning out great, but everything was slowly melting. You could see everything dripping; I felt so bad for the sculptors working so hard when their pieces probably wouldn't even see the light of the next day. We saw a CTV reporter commenting on the Winterlude activities, declaring that the only thing you can do this weekend is to see the ice sculptures... for now. We walked up and down Elgin, back up to the Snowbowl and caught a bit of a fire busker performance, then took pictures of the cute Ice Hog mascots running around amongst the crowd. We headed back into the market where we stopped into Oh So Good!, where they have a craaazy assortment of interesting cheesecakes. *droooool* So many to choose from! I decided on a mango raspberry cheesecake (dessert #2) and had a nice peach black tea to warm me up from the cold. We went back to our B&B (I love how it's in such an amazing location!!) where we rested a bit before heading back outside to get Beaver Tails (dessert #3). This time, however, it ended up pouring rain and we had to run back home protecting our poor beaver tails from getting soaked. I enjoyed my scrumptious apple cinnamon tail while we watched a funny chinese movie called Kung-Fu Mahjong.

The next morning for breakfast Anthony had made us berry smoothies and AMAZING custard french toast using thick french bread. [Aside: I tried out the recipe on my own when I got home, but the egg mixture didn't end up soaking all the way through the bread :( Continue reading down below for the recipe.] In the morning the weather was 6 degress so there was no way anything would be going on for Winterlude. After eating, we packed up our bags then took the bus to the Canada Science and Technology Museum. The place looked a lot smaller than what I remember 12 years ago, but inside was totally renovated. Although the Ontario Science Centre here is a lot bigger, all the exhibits are old and grungy that I remember being scared to touch something so dirty and germ-infested. The museum turned out to be so much fun and I actually learned some really neat things (like what the heck Sanford Fleming is famous for, haha... omg I'm such a nerd). We stayed there for 4 hours and took the bus back downtown. By this time it was 3pm and we were starving, but all the restaurants in the market were closed in the afternoon between lunch and dinner. After walking around the whole market trying all the restuarants, we finally went back to Zak's again (it's open 24 hours on the weekend, y'know!), where I had a Chicken Fajita wrap with onion rings (<--- sooo gooood!). Again, the wrap was so massive that I ended up saving half of it for the train ride home. Aftewards we went into Zone, a house and home store that carried some amazingly designed kitchen ware and home decor. I bought myself a mug with an infuser, the first time I've seen one since I bought one for my dad 5 years ago. We picked up our bags from the B&B and walked to the bus stop. We were so close to Confederation Park so we decided to go down and check out the finished ice sculptures. Poor sculptures!! So many of them were destroyed, and a few sculptors had given up on their works. By the time we finished circling the park and headed back up to the street I finally saw a taffy stall, but we had no time to make any! :( We took the 6:15 train back home and arrived to Union at 10:30; then I travelled another hour back home and got in at 11:30.

Snow sculpture on Friday night
(man's right hand already broken)
  Snow sculpture on Saturday morning
Custard French Toast

5 eggs
2 cups of milk (whole or 1/2 & 1/2)
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon nutmeg
French bread cut into 1-1/2 inch slices

1. Combine eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla & Nutmeg
2. Place sliced bread in a glass cassarole pan.
3. Pour egg mixture over bread - spinkle with additional nutmeg. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
5. Cook in greased pan until golden brown on both sides. Top with powdered sugar, fresh berries and a dallop of whipped cream.

Posted by mich at February 8, 2006 9:11 PM

Hey girlie! I haven't checked hte blog out lately, but wanted to drop a line & say hi! Soooo jealous that you went to Winterlude, even if the weather was horrid. Your trip made me think about my time there. *sigh* How I miss Zak's Diner!!!! ;)

Posted by: Y at February 11, 2006 10:51 PM
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