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eastern townships

HOME + GARDEN HOME decor

Bamboo Bedding and More at Maison Simons

bedding collection at maison simons

bedding collection at maison simons

I update my bedroom bedding almost every year. Therefore, I do not wish to pay a fortune for my duvet cover set. One store where I often find stylish and affordable comforter and pillow shams is Maison Simons.

Maison Simons operates stores in Quebec city, Montreal and Sherbrooke. The good news is that they now have an online store with shipping across Canada.  Maison Simons carries their own brand, La Lingère, and selects every season a few models from international brands.

roxy pop goes the polka dot comforter, pillowcases and sheets

Bamboo Rayon Bedding

A few months ago, I bought a nice green bamboo sheet set. It is made of 60% bamboo rayon and 40% cotton. The softness is absolutely divine. My husband and I even preferred it to our Egyptian cotton sheets. I wished I bought more than one set. Right now, they carry a 100% bamboo rayon sheet set in neutrals.

SOURCING:
+ Building Block Duvet Cover Set $130 to $190 CAD at Maison Simons
+ Roxy “Pop Goes The Polkadot” Comforter Set $200 to $270 CAD

LIVING

Doing Moguls, at last!

kim vallee at the top of exil glade at Mont Sutton

kim vallee at the top of exil glade at Mont Sutton

I am pretty excited by my day so far. My husband and I went skiing. The weather was wonderful. And the ski conditions were great, considering the lack of snowfalls that we experienced lately.

But the reason my day was amazing is that I started to ski like I used to. I gained back my speed when I tackled steeper groomed slopes. The high of the day came when I did moguls. I am still very careful so I do them at a slower pace and without attacking the moguls but I did it. It felt great! You see, moguls are my favorite activity when I ski. After my ski accident in 2007, there were many times when I believe that I could not do that again. My surgeon and my sport doctor were both cautious and told me to not count of that. But I told them that I would do it again. I am so happy!

My husband filmed me going down the Exil glade at Mont Sutton. It is short. It gives you a feel of what I am talking about.

FOOD + DRINK RESTAURANTS

My Gastronomic Meal at Basilic et Cacao

gastronomic meal at basilic et cacao in eastman, eastern townships

Naming a restaurant Basil and Cacao is a sure way to grab my attention. I had the pleasure of eating a wonderful gastronomic at Basilic et Cacao located in Eastman, Quebec last Friday night. Friends who were vacationing in the region invited us. We are glad we drove from Montreal to experience a delightful meal. Since our cottage is in the Eastern Townships, we took this opportunity to relax a bit.

The restaurant is run by the husband and wife team. Mario does the service. Monique is the cook, an outstanding cook. It is good to know that the woman who prepared us these fabulous creations is not a Chef. We were all astonished by her talents. I am telling, you will take notes on how to dish your plates.

The menu is one prix fixe menu per night. It costs $50 per person. They served nothing else. They carry a nice wine list. The 5-course dinner is made of an amuse-bouche, a soup, the appetizer, the main meal and the dessert. Do not worry, when you call to reserve that will inquire if you have allergies or strong dislikes.

amuse-bouche and soup at basilic et cacao

Since we were in season, the herbs and vegetables were freshly picked from their small garden. They grow out of the ordinary varieties like the maroon carrots and the very long French beans. Each course was a refined composition of food and presentation. Everything went well together.

We had rolls of foie gras and a fig for the amuse-bouche, two tapenades that complement the soup, an ostrich carpaccio and its local cheese mousse decorated with an ostrich chip before we received a superb duck entree with lightly cooked vegetables. A chocolate waffle with a chocolate sauce filling topped our dinner. It was exquisite! I will definitely return during the ski season.

MORE:
+ Gastronomy at Basilic et Cacao

FOOD + DRINK RECIPES + menus

Chickpea and Mango Salad Recipe Followed by a Grilled Red Snapper with a Fresca Salsa

chickpea and mango salad

Both recipes are from the Chef at Spa Eastman, a spa who won several awards. The latest is the Eastern Townships’ Final of the Grands Prix du tourisme québécois in the “Sustainable Tourism” category. Cooking is a part of their spa experience. They grow their own vegetables, berries, fine herbs and edible flowers during the summer. I am glad that the Chef shared with me one of his recipes.

Chickpea and Mango Salad Recipe

I love the way they dish the chickpea and mango salad. Using a coconut shelf as a bowl makes a statement. Remember it for your next beach party.

Soaking: 12 hrs
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hr 30 minutes
Serve 8

Main Ingredients:

  • 375 ml (1 ½ cups) chickpeas, soaked 12 hours
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) olive oil
  • half a red onion (150 g / 5 oz) cubed
  • 1 small red bell pepper (150 g / 5 oz), diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 10 ml (2 teaspoons) old-fashioned grain mustard (moutarde de meaux)
  • 45 ml (3 tablespoons) fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 very ripe mango, peeled, de-pitted and diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 22 ml (1 1/2 tablespoon) dried grated coconut or unsweetened flakes

Dressing:

  • 1 very ripe mango, peeled, de-pitted and diced
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) apple vinegar
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) water
  • 45 ml (3 tablespoons) olive oil
  • A touch of Cayenne pepper
  • A touch of ground turmeric (curcumin)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a casserole, pour cold water and add the chickpeas. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes, until the peas are tender. Drain and refrigerate.
  2. In the meanwhile, in a pan, heat 15 ml (1 tablespoon) of olive oil and sauté the onion, bell pepper and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
  3. Mix the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a blender until smooth.
  4. In a bowl, toss the chickpeas, onion, bell pepper, garlic, dressing, grain mustard, coriander and diced mango. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Place in a service bowl (or coconut shell) and sprinkle with mint and coconut.
  6. Serve cold.

Eating Well: More recipes from Spa Eastman

grilled red snapper with fresca salsa

Eating healthy means that we eat less meat. Fish provides an excellent source of nutriments and it delivers less calories on average than meat. A good think to fit nicely in our bathing suit at the beach party. Spa Eastman published tasty and healthy recipes:

+ Grilled Red Snapper Filet, Salsa Fresca
+ Swordfish with ginger and lemon sauce
+ Vegetable Miso Soup

If you wish to spoil your mother for Mother’s Day, you can get 10 % off the package of your choice when you book a package with accommodation. This offer is valid only for overnight stays that occur until May 31st 2009.

MORE:
+ Images and recipe courtesy of Spa Eastman

FOOD + DRINK KIDS party RECIPES + menus

My 2008 Posts in Review: July

Let start with one of best food discovery of 2008.

Jerome and Kim's Parisian Burger adapted from Café Salle Pleyel

+ My husband and I got inspired by the Parisian Burger imagined by Café Salle Pleyel Burger. Our own adaptation tastes wonderful, try it.

Then something that you do not find often on my blog: controversy. Both stories came from events I experienced. Because these posts triggered more comments, I think they deserve to be on my blogging review of the 2008.

kids party favors: pro or con :: my balnea spa review

+ First, I met a mother who was against kids party favors. I am all for party treats but I can understand the reasoning of parents who think this trend has went to far. With the current economic situation, more and more parents will spend less on kids birthday parties. But with a little imagination and time, you can distribute inexpensive party treats.

+ My report of my day at the Balnea Spa with its ups and downs has lead several fans of the Balnea Spa to come to its defense. I want to reiterate my point of view: the staff is well trained on what is expected of them. But they failed on delivering a top notch service when it goes outside the treatments. Frankly, letting your guests move between the pavilions to get their treatments without an umbrella when it is pouring rain is not delivering on a top notch service. Read the story for the details.

LIVING TRAVEL

Relaxing Day at Balnea Spa. Or Is It?

finnish saunas and cafe at Balnea Spa Bromont-sur-le-lac

Last Friday, I indulged in a Finnish meets modern meets hammam water spa experience. I wanted to try it since Balnea opened a few years ago in the Eastern Township.

Sitting next to Lac Gale with a superb view of the Appalaches, the site is designed around the balneotherapy. I liked my day but Balnea felt short on the drinking water part and in helping me getting the most of the balneotherapy.

How My Day Goes By

Balnea simply provides a small water bottle for the day. Unlike many spas, they do not have a self-served cucumber water station. But you can stop by the café anytime for a complimentary herbal tea.

We booked the Sukhasana package which includes a semi-private yoga (our trio), one hour of massage and the lunch. The lunch is up to $13, which means that you eat a soup and a healthy sandwich without extra. Their salad meal bowls are $12-$13. The food was good.

Even though my knee is not really fit for yoga yet, I went ahead because I wanted to try yoga on one of the several outside platforms overlooking the lake. It was raining heavily one hour earlier. So our yoga class took place inside, on the top veranda room. If they would have told me at the desk, I would have switched to a scrub treatment and a massage instead.

Saunas, Hot Tubs And Sun Bathing

Three Finnish saunas oversee the lake. Cool showers and an icy plunge pool reestablish your body temperature after each sauna session. I tried the dry sauna eucalyptus and a dry sauna with rosemary. The hot Turkish steam room complete the inside water complex.

We also enjoyed a series of hot tubs outside, including the renowned heavy fall cold pool (you have to try it) and a cold pond.

turk bath :: outdoor yoga :: cedar tub at  balnea

Next to the lake, the cedar tub and sun bathing lounge area is pleasing. You can swim on the lake. A small sauna pavilion with a fireplace and the new Fatboy outdoor chairs near the lake can be reserved by a group. Otherwise, it is available for everyone.

Pleasing Spa Treatments

The personnel at the yoga class and the massage took into account my injury. My girl friends enjoyed their massages too. One girl took an express facial treatment and was happy.

The striking site with direct access to nature makes you feel good. The décor of the spa is hip yet relaxing.

We took the quick tour of the facility with a guide. Rooms are well indicated. But I expect more from an upscale spa. Why Balnea do not devise one or two ritual programs around the thermal water experience? You make your own as you go. Unless you are an expert, it becomes more a day at the park than a spa treatment.

Short on Being a Top-Notch Host

On the customer service area, we were well treated but it is not worry free. That is where an upscale spa must deliver. They failed on the small details more than once.

My massage took place at the old Stone House. The sky was dark gray. Plenty of umbrellas were available on the main building. I saw them on my way out and I assumed more umbrellas would be available at the stone house. The girl who showed me the way did not suggest I bring an umbrella with me. It rained heavily as I was ready to go back to the main building. I asked for an umbrella and was told they were none at the stone house. I had to insist, playing on my injury as an excuse, before they called someone from the main building to bring me an umbrella. They finally found one sitting at the stone house. I got my umbrella but the other guests ran, all wet, under the rain to get back to the main building. Plus, they charge you $15 if you want to get a new bathroom – I hope these people did not have to pay. Sorry but you do not pay top dollars for that level of service.

Overall, Balnea provided me with a satisfying experience. They have a lot of things going for them. To become a must go destination, Balnea must improve on customer service. They must learn the art of being a top-notch host. You go to an upscale spa to feel pampered every step of the way and not just for what is in the premises. After this visit, I understand why some of my girl friends were disappointed when they visited last year.

SOURCING:
+ Balnea Spa Bromont-sur-le-lac – Web site is only in French