Travel Diaries: Quebec City

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that we’re all in recovery mode from a fun and festive weekend. Am I right?

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

My family, for one, is keeping the New Year’s party going for a couple more days up in Tahoe, but I realize that many of you are stuck with facing work either today or tomorrow, so I thought I’d cheer you up a bit with a quick recap and LOTS of photos from my trip to Quebec City a few weeks ago. Sound good? Great, let’s do it!

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

First, the quick backstory. Ever since I started working for myself full time, my friend Johanna and I have been talking about planning a trip using her flight attendant benefits. Now that I don’t have to “report” to anyone (well, in person at least) for work, it’s much less stressful having to fly standby to take advantage of her airline employee benefits.

Because she flies for American, the closest airport we could fly into was Montreal, which is about a three-hour drive from Quebec City. We initially planned on taking the train into the city, but after some further research we decided to rent a car (well, SUV – we needed that four wheel drive!) This allowed us to make the trek from Montreal to Quebec City at our own pace, and it also allowed us to get out and explore a bit more than we would have been able to if we were relying on public transportation. It was such a good decision on our part!

We got in on a Wednesday morning and didn’t even end up checking in to our hotel until mid-afternoon. So, I’m going to pick up on our first half day (once we arrived in Quebec City) and go from there. And I’m going to let the photos do most of the talking!!

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Day One

Checked into the Chateau Frontenac, where we stayed for just one night. Highly recommended. We were able to get the room on my credit card points so we didn’t have to shell out, and it is THE landmark hotel of Quebec City. Please, please, please be sure to stay here if at all possible. Plus, they have the cutest dog!! //

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com
The beautiful Chateau Frontenac…
Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com
The view from our room…
Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com
The festive trees in the lobby…
Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com
THE DOG! <3

Explored the Old Town of Quebec City //

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com
That’s our hotel peaking out all festive there!

Had drinks and appetizers at 1608Chateau Frontenac’s wine and cheese bar //

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com
Ummm can I please have this cheese cellar in my dream home??
Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com
Day TWo

Breakfast in bed //

Montmorency Falls //

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com
That’s a long way down!

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Checked in to our cute loft we got on AirBnB //

Explored Le Marche Du Vieux-Port Quebec – A cute public market where we picked up snacks and a quiche for breakfast the next day. //

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Dinner at Le Renard et La Chouette where we had the delicious Chilled Shrimp and Fennel Salad I recreated last week. //

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Day Three

Enjoyed our quiche at the loft for breakfast //

Snowshoed through Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier //

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Spent the afternoon warming back up at the Siberia Station Spa  (We don’t have any photos of this because we probably would have gotten thrown out for busting out our cameras, but trust me when I say this is a MUST DO. You pay for a day pass and get to hop in and out of their numerous hot tubs, cold tubs, saunas, steam rooms and yurts for as long as you want, as long as you’re quiet! This was so relaxing and the perfect thing to do after our morning of snowshoeing in 10-degree weather.) //

Grabbed a brewski at Archibald Microbrasserie //

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Made our own version of “poutine” at the loft for dinner (I’m so sorry I don’t have pics of this, but it was basically hashbrowns topped with onions, raclette and a variety of sausages…so funny, but delicious!) //

Day Four

Breakfast from Paillard to get our croissant fix //

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Explored Ile d’Orleans tasting at quite a bit of the local wineries and cideries because they were the only things open. It was a blast but I definitely want to go back in the spring, summer or fall when you can see all of the farms and crops.

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com
Sugar shack that was unfortunately closed 🙁

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Explored Basse-Ville, the “Lower Town” of Old Quebec with tons of cute shops and restaurants //

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Rode the Funicular to Upper Town //

Drank Caribou at D’Orsay Restaurant Pub //

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Wandered through the German Christmas Market //

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Ate raclette at Le Petit Coin Latin //

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

And on the last day (Day 5) I was up at the crack of dawn to catch my flight home. The whole trip went by so fast and I can’t wait to go back and see more. Maybe in above freezing temperatures next time?

Travel Diaries: Quebec City | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu

After much too long of a hiatus, I’ve got oodles and oodles of Travel Diaries comin’ your way!

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

I figured after a weekend of nonstop eating you might be ready for a little break from the recipes, so today I’m telling you all about my trip to Honolulu last month. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll be hearing and seeing plenty about food in this post (since we basically ate our way through the entire island) but it’s at least food that you can look forward to on your next trip and nothing you have to worry about eating right away 😉

I’m still trying to figure out the best format to tell you all about my travel adventures, so please feel free to comment below about what you’d like to see more or less of! For today, since I have so many amazing photos to share, I thought I’d keep it simple and minimize the chatter. I also broke it down by day so I can stay organized and make sure I don’t miss anything.

So here goes!

Day 1

Lunch at The Pig & the Lady (Chinatown)

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Laotian Fried Chicken
Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
P&L Pho
Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Pho French Dip

Dinner at Doraku Sushi (Waikiki)

Day 2

Farmer’s Market at Kapiolani Community College (Diamond Head)

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Juice at Tucker & Bevvy (Waikiki)

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Breakfast at Big City Diner (Kaimuki)

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Uncle Danny’s Kim Chee Fried Rice & Eggs
Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Kalbi & Eggs

Dinner at MW Restaurant (Ala Moana) – FAVORITE RESTAURANT OF THE TRIP!

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Kona Lobster Bisque
Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Pork and Foie Gras Wonton
Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Pan Roasted Mahi Mahi with Kahuku Corn and Black Bean Sauce
Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Mountain View Farms Pork Chop with Baby Tomato Relish, Baby Bok Choi, Matsutake Mushroom Gravy

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Day 3

Dim Sum at Happy Days (Kaimuki)

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Beer at Pint + Jigger (Ala Moana)

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Dinner at Mahina & Sun’s at The Surfjack (Waikiki)

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Pitaya Cocktail
Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Grilled He’e and Watercress Salad
Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Mochiko Fried Whole Deep Sea Snapper
Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Day 4

Breakfast at Kaimuki Superette (Kaimuki)

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Chia Seed Pudding with Fresh Fruit, Bee Pollen, Granola Dust and Manoa Honey
Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Bread Pudding

Beer at Honolulu Beerworks (Kaka’ako)

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Lunch at Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot (Ward)

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Dinner from Tamura’s Fine Wine & Spirits (Kaimuki), Gina’s B-B-Q (Market City), and Foodland (for the poke!)

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Day 5

Breakfast at Lanikai Juice at the Hilton Hawaiian Village (Waikiki)

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Acai Bowl (with a scoop of peanut butter!)

Kahumana Farms

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Lunch at Fish House at the Four Seasons Resort Ko’olina (Ko’olina)

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
House Beer Bread with Sea Salt Whipped Butter and Smoky Tuna Dip
Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Chilled Avocado Salad
Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Carolina BBQ Pork Ribs (that corn bread was amazing!)

Dinner at Mud Hen Water (Kaimuki)

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Yaki o Pa’i ‘ai
Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Beet Poke
Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Basket Cheese on Tropical Fruit Platter
Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Day 6

Breakfast at Tropics at the Hilton Hawaiian Village (Waikiki)

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Dinner at Lucky Belly (Chinatown)

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Lamb Lumpia
Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Lobster Shu Mai
Day 7

Tour of the Honolulu Fish Market & Auction

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

Breakfast at Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com
Avocado Toast with Poached Eggs

As I mentioned above, we were most blown away by our dinner at MW Restaurant. Just about everything we had there was spot-on, including the desserts. The owners are a husband and wife team (Michelle, the wife, is the Pastry Chef, and Wade, the husband, is the Head Chef) that came from long stints at Alan Wong’s, so you know they’re making good food.

We also really enjoyed our (few) non-eating activities. I’d been to the KCC Farmer’s Market many times, but it was such a treat to actually get to go out to Kahumana Farms and see all of the fresh produce being grown. We sadly didn’t make it to their organic cafe this time around, but I definitely want to try it out on our next trip!

So what do you think? Is there anywhere we missed? What should I start putting on my list for the next time we’re on the island?

Travel Diaries: Honolulu | CaliGirlCooking.com

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Travel Diaries: Vancouver

It’s about time I got around to sharing my Vancouver trip with you!

Travel Diaries: Vancouver

It’s been so long since I’ve done a Travel Diary post and I must say I am SUPER excited to change things up a bit and not write a recipe post for once. Don’t get me wrong, I love sharing all of my recipes with you! But it’s always refreshing to get into some different content every once in a while. I hope you don’t mind? Oh, and rest assured, there is plenty of food to talk about here, too!

I actually had to go to Vancouver for a work conference, so I didn’t have TOO much free time, but I did drag my newly-retired mom along and we managed to get into plenty of trouble (or at least eat at plenty of restaurants) in the small amount of leisure time that I had. Side note on that, it really was so great to have my mom along with me. We haven’t been on a trip with just the two of us for somewhere around five (maybe more?) years and, especially with this wedding of mine coming up, I really cherished our time together. Who knows how often we’ll have the chance to do that once I’m hitched?

Travel Diaries: Vancouver

But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty so I can tell you all about the fun things we did/ate/saw. Are you ready for this? Buckle up because it’s going to be a quick and crazy ride!

Where We Stayed:

Travel Diaries: Vancouver

The host hotel for my conference was The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. What a charming place! Although the lobby went through a renovation recently, the old-world charm of the hotel still shines through. I guess they don’t call it the “Castle in the City” for nothing! The staff was so warm and welcoming. The gentleman that checked us in took a good deal of time telling us about where we should eat, how we could get there, etc. And his job was just to check us in! This leads me to how unbelievably helpful the actual Concierge was as well. After our first visit with him he had dinner reservations for us at some of the best restaurants in the city for every night of our stay. Not to mention, the hotel is conveniently located in the heart of downtown and a short cab ride away from all of the charming little boroughs that make up Vancouver, B.C.

What We Ate:

Okay, in the interest of time, and so as not to completely lose your attention, I’m going to make this as short and sweet as possible. We ate so many amazing things on our trip that it’s a wonder I was still able to fit into my jeans when I got back. I’ll let the photos do as much talking as possible. Feast your eyes, folks.

Travel Diaries: Vancouver

BLUE WATER CAFÉ + RAW BAR

Located in the borough of Yaletown, an upscale seafood restaurant whose dishes are just as impressive as their seafood towers. Not to mention highly knowledgeable staff and a Sommelier on the floor to assist you with all of your wine pairing needs.

We ordered…

Travel Diaries: Vancouver

Mixed Ceviche – I LOVED that they served this with crispy spiced chickpeas as opposed to something like tortilla or won ton chips. Definitely going to give this a try sometime at home!

Travel Diaries: Vancouver

Baked Bay Scallops with Parmesan Crust

Travel Diaries: Vancouver

Sablefish with Miso Sake Glaze, Baby Bok Choy, Edamame, Quinoa and Shiitake Mushrooms, Yuzu Dashi – I just have to say that this was probably THE favorite dish of the trip. And yes, that means I am going to try and recreate it someday. Stay tuned!

Travel Diaries: Vancouver

Warm Dark Chocolate Cake with Brandy Truffle Center, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Travel Diaries: Vancouver

I must also mention their two delicious flavors of butter that were served with warm bread: red pepper and nori. I died. So good.

NOTCH 8 AT THE HOTEL VANCOUVER

We stopped in at this happenin’ little spot more than a few times since it was in our hotel! I was quite impressed with their offerings (coming from the gal that works in the “big box” hotel biz herself) and so I felt that I MUST share them with you. It was a convenient spot for us, but I would recommend stopping in for at least a light bite and a drink if you’re ever in the area.

We ordered…

Travel Diaries: Vancouver

Tableside Cocktail of the Day – On Friday afternoons during Happy Hour, they have a bartender that wheels around a little cart with ingredients for a “Cocktail of the Day” that he mixes tableside. So fun!

Travel Diaries: Vancouver

Maple Hickory Old Fashioned

Travel Diaries: Vancouver

Earl Grey Blueberry Tea – Yes, this was a tea cocktail and yes, I have plans to recreate it.

Travel Diaries: Vancouver

Notch8 Poutine with Cheese Curds and Kennebec Fries – In case you don’t know, poutine is a classic “must-order” Canadian dish…French fries + gravy + cheese curds = amaze-balls.

Travel Diaries: Vancouver

Stout Pull Apart Bread with Whole-Grain Mustard and Comte Cheese – Let’s just add this to the list of things I’m going to try and make at home. Seriously, a savory pull apart bread? Music to my ears (er…mouth.)

Travel Diaries: Vancouver

AMAZING LOCAL WINE ALERT: So, this wasn’t technically a restaurant we ate at, but I had to mention it because it was YUMMY! And you know I love my wine. We got a great lesson in British Columbia Wine Country from the manager at the liquor store, and we seriously enjoyed the Painted Rock Syrah he recommended from the Okanagan Valley. Sadly, he said that the production of BC wine is so small, we’ll likely never see it widely distributed here in the U.S., but it was so fun to try their local goods. Guess I’ll have to plan a wine tasting trip up there someday!

HAWKSWORTH RESTAURANT

This ultra-fine dining restaurant has been named Vancouver’s Restaurant of the Year. Conveniently, it was right across the street from our hotel and, conveniently, our Concierge was able to get us a seat there. Score!

We ordered…

Travel Diaries: Vancouver

Foie Gras Torchon with Green Apple, Pecan Crumble, Yogurt and Warm Brioche – I still have not gotten over the fact that (for a  very short time) they outlawed foie gras in the U.S…I’m making up for lost time by ordering it whenever I see it on a menu now.

Travel Diaries: Vancouver

Parsnip and Vanilla Soup with Dungeness Crab, Hazelnut, Pickled Chanterelle and Brown Butter – They serve this “deconstructed,” with all of the toppings sitting in the bowl when they serve it while the waiter brings out a carafe of the soup and pours it tableside. What service! (And so delicious to boot! I need to try and pickle mushrooms.)

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Red Kuri Squash, Potato Gnocchi, Cavolo Nero and Black Truffle – I know what you’re thinking: “Why order chicken at such a fine dining establishment?” Well, let me tell you, this dish was AMAZING. Far better than the fish I ordered.

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

Pan Roasted Sablefish with De Puy Lentils, Cauliflower and Crispy Chicken Skin Gremolata – see above.

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

Vanilla Bavarois with Raspberry and Meyer Lemon

GRANVILLE PUBLIC MARKET

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

I just have to say, this Public Market puts many of the ones I’ve been to here in the U.S. to shame! Think of S.F.’s Ferry Building but three times the size. I’m not kidding, it goes on forever! So much beautiful produce, representation from all corners of the world. I was in heaven! Definitely worth the five minute ferry ride (or 10 minute drive) if you’re ever in the area!

We ordered…

A French 75 Macaron from Bon Macaron Patisserie Ltd.

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

 

Blue Brie from Duso’s Italia

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

A Honey Dip Raised Donut from Lee’s Donuts

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

A Spinach, Tomato and Cheese Crepe from Muffin Granny de Paris Crepes

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

Local Goat Milk Brie from Benton Brothers Fine Cheese

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

Salted Caramel Apple Focaccia from Terra Breads

BAMBUDDA

A hip (but small) Chinese/Vancouver-ized restaurant in Gastown. With inventive cocktails to boot!

We ordered…

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

Post Opium – Don’t worry, it’s a cocktail, not a drug! And it’s very good. This is one of those places you just have to order something that you know has a few ingredients you like, and just trust that the rest of what’s involved will make it taste amazing.

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

Lobster and Shrimp Dumplings with Chipotle Mango Mayo and Cilantro Pesto

Smoked Cauliflower with Arborio Rice, Mushroom X.O. and Nori Peanuts – Add the scallops. You won’t be sorry.

House Made Gnocchi with Woodland Mushrooms, Chicken Broth and Shaved Parmesan

MEDINA

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

The number-one recommended breakfast spot that our Concierge recommended we hit early Monday morning so as not to find a line wrapping out the door and around the corner. We were seated right away and the food was so creative, and tasty!

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

We ordered…

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

Milk Chocolate-Lavender Mocha – They have so many amazing-looking cocktails on the menu here but I opted for the mocha instead. All I can say is “Yum!” So glad I went that route.

Dark Chocolate Mocha – My mom went for more of a classic espresso drink, but hers was super-tasty as well!

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

Liege-Style Waffle with Passion Fruit Topping – Are you hating me yet for saying I want to try and recreate just about everything we ate in Vancouver? Well, you can add this to the list! So chewy and comforting and delicious.

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

“La Sante” – Soft Boiled Egg, Marinated Tomato Salad, Olive Tapenade, Avocado, Oyama Charcuterie (local charcuterie company alert!) with Grilled Ciabatta – Served in a “build your own breakfast” style. What a cute concept!

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

Le Sandwich Peameal – House Cured Peameal Bacon, Over Medium Egg, Cabbage & Medina Pickle Slaw, Tomato Jam & Seasonal Greens – Served open-faced. Must eat with a knife and fork but the balance of flavors is on point!

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

What Else We Did (Besides Eat):

Shopped. A lot. It was a bit dangerous that in close proximity to our hotel were both (a) Lululemon – we’re talking flagship store status…Did you know Vancouver is where Lululemon began? And (b) one of the largest Victoria’s Secret stores in North America. We of course also had to check out the local outdoor outfitter, Roots (think Canada’s version of Patagonia) and the humongous Nordstrom’s that happened to have a bar in the middle of the women’s section. Dangerous!

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

Stanley Park – Don’t worry, we fit in some (non-food related) sightseeing as well. On our last morning in Vancouver (since I wasn’t in conference that day) we took a cab out to the park, which, did you know, is larger than NYC’s Central Park? Our ambition was to hit the museum, but we got there before it opened and then got sidetracked taking in all of the sights. And the totem poles! Did you know that these crazy-looking totem poles are Vancouver’s most visited tourist attraction? I have to admit it is quite impressive to see so many in one place. With such a gorgeous backdrop of the city!

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

Even though it was a short one, this first trip of mine to Vancouver was packed full of great experiences, delicious food and also so many learning opportunities. It was also so great getting to spend some quality one-on-one time with my mom. This little introduction to the city provided me with the perfect foundation to make a return trip, explore even more and, most importantly, enjoy more delicious food and drink!

Have any of my readers out there spent some time in Vancouver? What did I miss? I’m already taking suggestions for my next trip! XO

Travel Diaries: Vancouver | CaliGirl Cooking

And if you want to check out more of my travels, check out some of my past Travel Diaries!

Travel Diaries: Leavenworth & Seattle, WA

Travel Diaries: Yosemite

Travel Diaries: Oahu

Travel Diaries: Napa

Travel Diaries: Colorado

Fun, Fearless Female Feature: Tara Jones of “Eat This, Shoot That!”

Hi friends! Today I’m sharing a little something new with you. I consider myself very lucky to have made an amazing amount of personal connections with fun, fearless women all over the world. Not only do I call so many of these gals close friends, but I’ve learned something (or many things!) from each and every one of them and I know I can always count on them for encouragement and support. Because I know we all love hearing about women accomplishing pretty cool things out in the world, I want to start sharing their stories with you and hope that you can learn and be inspired by them just like I have been!

Eat This, Shoot That!
Photo courtesy of Eat This, Shoot That!

The first lovely lady that I want to tell you about is Tara Jones, founder of “Eat This, Shoot That!” “Eat This, Shoot That!” offers food and wine tours through two up-and-coming neighborhoods of Santa Barbara with an added emphasis on the basics of food and travel photography. So not only do you get to visit some of the best restaurants, wineries, distilleries, etc. in Santa Barbara and meet the people who make it happen, but you also get to learn how to take better photos of the delicious food and drink you’re enjoying.

Tara graduated from Brooks Institute of Photography & Film with a triple major in digital media – photography, graphic design and film, and started her career as a photographer as many do, shooting weddings. After a while, she realized that weddings weren’t her true passion, so she took a job at a boutique advertising firm. Then the recession hit. With the unsettling feeling that she would soon need to find an alternate way to earn an income from her photography, Tara reevaluated her path and her strengths and it became clear to her that one of her true passions, and something she was very good at, was teaching others.

Eat This, Shoot That!
Photo courtesy of Eat This, Shoot That!

Realizing that during uncertain economic times, people would take it upon themselves to perform services like photography, Tara decided to start teaching workshops on the basics of the art, showing people that wished to take things into their own hands the “tools and tricks” of the photography trade. Flare Productions took a turn in its 11 years of operation and Tara began teaching her classes in the Sunken Gardens at the Santa Barbara Courthouse.

Tara, being the entrepreneurial woman that she is, soon began thinking of ways to continue to grow as a person and follow her passions. Having always been a people person, Tara knew that one of the best ways to bring folks together is over a big plate of food (amen!) She already knew that she loved to teach and that she loved people. On top of that, one of Tara’s friends had just started a food tour in East Boston, and was encouraging her to do the same in Santa Barbara.

Eat This, Shoot That!
Photo courtesy of Jessica Roy

It was about this time that the iPhone was coming to the forefront and cell phone photography was becoming better than it had ever been before. Instagram was born and more and more people were sharing their photos on social media. It was also at this time that Santa Barbara had the most restaurants per capita in the nation second to New York City. [Did anyone else know that? I sure didn’t!]

In 2012, Tara began approaching restaurants to see which ones might be interested in participating in a food tour. The idea was simple, we’ll pay you to bring guests to your establishment, and in turn we’ll expose more people to your products and get you more business. As you can imagine, almost none of the restaurants said they did not want to participate.

But she didn’t approach just any restaurant; Tara specifically wanted to include restaurants, wineries, etc. in “hidden and “up-and-coming” neighborhoods. Neighborhoods with character, with a story, where they welcome you with open arms. She wanted that personal connection, much like she strived to achieve with her workshops.

Eat This, Shoot That!
Photo courtesy of Eat This, Shoot That!
Eat This, Shoot That!
Photo courtesy of Jessica Roy

When “Eat This, Shoot That!” was born, the first tour that was offered led guests through the Funk Zone. This was at a time when the area was barely even established yet, when hardly anyone knew what (or where) the Funk Zone was. As “Eat This, Shoot That!” grew in popularity, so did the Funk Zone. Coincidence? I think not.

Today’s tour takes guests through many of the more popular establishments in the area, but also to some of the “hidden gems” (tour stops include Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, Mony’s Taqueria, Lucky Penny, and Riverbench Winery.) But even the more well-known spots have hidden stories and personal touches. For example, at Riverbench Winery, guests get to sample dark chocolate almond toffee from local candy-maker Koval Confections (whom Tara encouraged to start a business as well) and at Mony’s Taqueria, it’s a complete family-run operation with mom and dad cooking while their grown children serve the food.

Eat This, Shoot That!
Photo Courtesy of Eat This, Shoot That!

With the success of the “Eat This, Shoot That!” Funk Zone Food & Photo Tour, Tara and her team have recently added a second tour to their resume, the El Paseo Wine & Photo Tour. This tour focuses more on Santa Barbara’s rich viticultural offerings, and introduces guests to wines from some of Santa Barbara’s best AVA’s. Since the tour takes place in Santa Barbara’s Presidio Neighborhood, there is also an emphasis on the history of the city.

Eat This, Shoot That!
Photo courtesy of Eat This, Shoot That!
Eat This, Shoot That!
Photo courtesy of Eat This, Shoot That!

Tara was lucky enough to travel a lot growing up, and she says her favorite trips were those where the tour guide became a friend, interacted with the group, and felt like family. Her goal is to do the same with “Eat This, Shoot That!” – to offer a relaxed, unpretentious environment where it feels like everyone (including the tour guide) is an old friend.

It seems like this formula is working well for her. There are talks of possibly adding a third tour in the future, and she also has a book, 101 Things to Do in Santa Barbara Before You Die, coming out this March (check it out and pre-order it here!)

Eat This, Shoot That!
Photo courtesy of Eat This, Shoot That!

It has been so great to get to know Tara and learn more about how she started “Eat This, Shoot That!,” and it’s even better to have a like-minded, entrepreneurial woman that I can turn to in my very own backyard. If there’s nothing else I’ve learned in my blogging career thus far, it’s that a network of strong, empowering women (or men!) are essential for success. I encourage each and every one of you, whether you’re pursuing a blogging career or some other passion, to reach out and build this sort of foundation. Find people who will help you and who you can help in return!

In the meantime, if you’re ever in the Santa Barbara area, be sure to sign up for one of Tara’s tours. I can guarantee you won’t regret it!

Travel Diaries: Leavenworth & Seattle, WA

Well, we are officially in the throes of fall, even though there is still very little sign of the season here in Santa Barbara. I keep hoping though, and am confident that the month of October will bring the cooler weather (and rain! Please, rain!) that we’ve been waiting for.

Travel Diaries: Leavenworth & Seattle, WA | CaliGirl Cooking
Downtown Leavenworth

But I can’t complain too much. I did get a leeeetle taste of the change in season a few weeks ago when we headed up to Washington to see one of my dearest friends get married. Leslie and I have been close since we both uprooted from our home state of California and headed out to experience living the island life in Hawaii. Although we never knew each other until we lived there, we quickly bonded over our love for doing anything and everything active outdoors. Through many moves and many states, we’ve stayed in touch and, let me tell you, it is very rare that I tear up at a wedding, but I just couldn’t help it when I watched this beautiful soul walk down the aisle <3 [P.S. She has a pretty cool blog too. Do yourself a favor and check out Forever Stoked.]

Travel Diaries: Leavenworth & Seattle, WA | CaliGirl CookingSo not only did I get to be a part of a super special day, and not only did I get to experience a little bit of fall weather, but I also got to check out a town I’d never been to before. Leavenworth, WA is about 2.5 hours outside of Seattle, and is just the cutest little town you ever did see. All my Santa Barbara peeps (and I’m sure some others of you) know our cute little neighbor Danish town of Solvang? Well, Leavenworth was actually modeled after Solvang. A little Bavarian hideaway tucked into the side of the mountains. Very “Sound of Music”-esque and more than once I was sure Julie Andrews would emerge singing “The Hills Are Alive.” [Just letting my musical geek flag fly there for a second.]

Travel Diaries: Leavenworth & Seattle, WA | CaliGirl CookingAnyhow, back on track. We didn’t get to Leavenworth until late Friday night, so we had to save our exploring for Saturday morning. But first of all, even in the dark, we could tell our hotel (The Bavarian Lodge) was super cute.Travel Diaries: Leavenworth & Seattle, WA | CaliGirl Cooking

After a super lovely mountainside morning yoga sesh with the bride-to-be, we set out to explore. Chris had already picked up some delicious Bavarian pastries for us to snack on for breakfast, so we decided to snoop around “downtown” a bit until we worked up an appetite again. We managed to find a fudge shop, a tasting room and a nutcracker store before we ended up at the local downtown beer garden. Of course we had to try the brats and local brews, and then stop at another Bavarian bakery for a pretzel the size of my face to take home as a late night snack. Yea, we don’t travel by our stomachs at all 😉Travel Diaries: Leavenworth & Seattle, WA | CaliGirl CookingTravel Diaries: Leavenworth & Seattle, WA | CaliGirl Cooking

The wedding was at the groom’s parents’ house, and it was just amazing. Soooo cute. I had every ambition to take more photos than I did but the emotion of the evening caught up to me and I really wanted to just be in the moment. It’s important to know when to step away from behind the lens!Travel Diaries: Leavenworth & Seattle | CaliGirl Cooking

Travel Diaries: Leavenworth & Seattle, WA | CaliGirl CookingTravel Diaries: Leavenworth & Seattle, WA | CaliGirl CookingThe next morning we hit the road early (after stopping at the cheese shop because, well, road trip snacks!) and made the trek to Seattle. Let me tell you, that was one road trip I did not mind. Talk about breathtaking scenery! Our flight didn’t leave until later Sunday evening, and when we were talking about how we wanted to kill the time, both of us really wanted to check out Pike Place Market. (Again, we don’t travel by our stomachs or anything.) We had a great time cruising the stalls and ate plenty of delicious food before we had to catch the plane back to California.Travel Diaries: Leavenworth & Seattle, WA | CaliGirl Cooking

Travel Diaries: Leavenworth & Seattle, WA | CaliGirl CookingTravel Diaries: Leavenworth & Seattle, WA | CaliGirl CookingTravel Diaries: Leavenworth & Seattle, WA | CaliGirl CookingTravel Diaries: Leavenworth & Seattle, WA | CaliGirl CookingTravel Diaries: Leavenworth & Seattle, WA | CaliGirl CookingTravel Diaries: Leavenworth & Seattle, WA | CaliGirl CookingIt was a quick trip, but I strongly believe that any exploring is better than none! I’m so glad that we were able to make it for my girl’s wedding and as a bonus we were able to see and do some pretty cool things.Beautiful Bride Leslie

What places are you dying to check out for your next weekend getaway? I’d love to hear!