Category Archives: Restaurants

Butcher & the Boar

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On that beautiful afternoon last August when we took my mom down Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis, we decided to take a little walk further. Rob and I hadn’t yet been to The Butcher and the Boar, but we had heard that it had a fantastic patio. We had to wait a bit in a line outside because it wasn’t quite yet open.

¬†As you may guess, Butcher and the Boar is all about the meat! The outdoor patio is huge and meant for a crowd. It’s a little oasis downtown.

And I’m guessing they are dog friendly. ūüėČ The poster below shows the weekly dog event last summer! I’m not sure if it is going on again this year… But if I lived much closer, I’d probably be there!

Butcher & the Boar is known for their chef-crafted meats. In the Twin Cities, you can find their sausages in some of the local grocery stores! We ran the gamut on our choices that day…

To be quite honest, I don’t remember if that was a sausage or a brat or what, but I’m guessing Rob ordered it! Their menu changes all of the time, so what we ate last August might not be available now anyway.

I’m guessing this is what my mom ordered. She loves a good burger! But I could be wrong, maybe Mom got the sausage and Rob the burger. All I know is that they both loved their meats!

I have no idea why I chose wings. I’m not really a wing person, but they must have sounded good at the time. Though I don’t remember why, I do remember that they were a little disappointing. Carrie, next time get the real meat! I remember also enjoying some local craft beers and ciders and that Bourbon was a big deal here as well.

Looking at these photos has me wanting to get back to the Butcher and the Boar soon. Anyone want to join us?!

What’s your favorite meat of choice?

Cheers~
Carrie

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Family in Town {Last Year!}

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I wrote most of this post last August, but never published it! ¬†I changed nothing, but added the end… Enjoy!

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Written 8/31/16…

I have been anxiety-ridden for about the past month. I always thought I dealt fairly well with change, but apparently not! Luckily, my mom came to visit me for a week. Having family in town distracted me from thinking (or feeling frozen) too much.

You know your mom loves you when she comes to visit you for a week, without a car, even when you have to work!

Why did she not have a car? Because the first weekend, my brother and Co. dropped her off. We had a lovely time, but unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos of the usual stuff – like playing poker or taking our annual trip to Burger Jones.

However, for some reason we decided to capture the moment my brother introduced all of his home brews! I find the expressions in these photos funny, so I thought I’d share them with you:

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My brother has a decade+ long obsession with duct tape. That’s why labeling his bottles with such is so fitting! I was quite impressed by his brews. We are looking forward to trying more in the future.

While our dogs both have really taken to all four of the kids, for some reason, Sham usually will end up hanging with Max.
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The kids had their usual swimming and MOA time, but we had a bit of adult time, too. We didn’t take JR on an afternoon-long brewery tour like we did for his birthday that one time, but we did introduce him to the one not too far from us that had finally arrived south of the the river – Nutmeg. Let me tell you, they have really upped their game since the first time I posted. There are new brewers that craft some exceptional beers in the smallest room possible. The food is exceptional… and there are even cocktails on the menu now.

This photo of her cocktail and a Nutmeg brew is courtesy of my brother’s wife, D. I like how she¬†got the photo of Rob’s and my noses almost touching!

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My mom really likes those keg lights hanging from the ceiling^^. And we have to say, dessert there is divine, too. But there is a total disagreement on which dessert is better, the Porter Brownie Sundae or the Amber Toffee Cake.

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The reason I never finished that post was that I had more to say. I often try to put too much into one post and then it never gets published! I need to remember to break things up. What I wanted to add was more of what happened that week with my mom!

For example, on a beautiful afternoon, we took her to Nicollet Mall to enjoy some of our favorites: such as a Cheese Toastie on the rooftop of Brit’s Pub while watching Lawn Bowling, a pint of cider or a Big Ginger at The Local and these Brie Curds with Blueberry Ketchup at The News Room:

It was such a lovely day that day (I remember it well!) that we took a little walk to a hip outdoor patio to which Rob and I had not yet been. I’ll leave that one for another post. ūüėČ

Better late then never, right?

What photos have brought back wonderful memories to you lately?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

Sea Salt – I Felt Like I Was on Vacation

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It was my turn to pick a location for Girls Dinner Night Out this past weekend. Because Rob was out of town, I was feeling seafood! Can you believe I’ve lived in the Twin Cities for 15 years now and I’d never been to Sea Salt Eatery?! Sea Salt Eatery is located in Minnehaha Park right near Minnehaha Falls – a destination I recommend to everyone visiting the Twin Cities!

Sea Salt Eatery is open approximately April through October. You know, those times we Minnesotans just want to be OUTSIDE! The menu focuses mostly on seafood, much of it fried.

I have read that there is always a line, but it’s worth the wait. You order your food and drinks (beer and wine, too!) at the counter, where you pay and get a number. Go find a seat and enjoy the outdoors. The food may take some time, but relax! And if you need another beverage, you don’t have to get back in line. There is a beverage-only counter as well. We were lucky to have a little live music to add to our ambiance that evening.

I truly didn’t feel like we were dining out in Minneapolis. I felt like we were on vacation, enjoying the sunshine, relaxing and trying some of the local cuisine. {Of course, only the sunshine and relaxation were true!}

The food was great!

Fried Bay Scallop Tacos

Kim was smart and asked which were the best tacos on the menu and the reply was either the Fried Fish or Fried Scallop Tacos. These two little tacos may not look like much, but Kim said they were very filling!

Steamed Shrimp Tacos

I was a little jealous after seeing Kim’s Scallop Tacos because they were topped with a creamy, yummy-looking sauce. My Steamed Shrimp Tacos looked boring. But they fooled me because my tacos were not dry – there was tons of flavor there!

Jen ordered the Crabcake Basket (not pictured) which came with a corn salsa on the side that she found a bit spicy. There were diced up jalapenos in there! And to share, Kim ordered us the Crab-Stuffed Avocado.

Crab Stuffed Avocado

Wash it all down with local beer and cider and we were ready to walk by and enjoy the falls. This summer, get thee to Minnehaha Falls. Climb those stairs! We aren’t getting any younger! Then stop for a bite at Sea Salt Eatery. Even if you haven’t left town, you just might feel like you are vacation, too.

What local places near you make you feel relaxed and on vacation?

Cheers~
Carrie

Some of the Best Food I’ve Had in a Long Time…

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I haven’t been writing much on the blog about the restaurants we’ve been visiting. There are several reasons for this, but rather than bore you with them, I’d just like to jump back on that wagon… because last weekend I had some of the best food that I’ve had in long time!

Wise Acre Eatery

This south Minneapolis restaurant has been on my wishlist for quite some time. I know that farm-to-table is kind of an over-used phrase these days; but the intention behind this one is real. They have their own farm in Minnesota that sources nearly all the ingredients on the menu.

It came up because my husband and I wanted a weekend breakfast, but I know he’s not a huge fan of brunch (typically when it’s a buffet). I did a few searches and when I found Wise Acre Eatery with a burger on the menu, I knew it was a win!

We arrived just after opening and were quickly seated to a table. We normally sit at the bar, but it just didn’t feel right on this occasion. But they do have one! I had a nice view of the kitchen from my seat. We really loved the ambiance.

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Per my usual, I had a difficult time deciding. We read that WAE is known for their bacon. But by the looks of the menu, it didn’t seem like there’d be a bad choice!

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I was completely intrigued by the Chili Platter! It’s nothing I’d normally associate with¬†brunch. I considered¬†ordering it, but was also feeling eggs… So in the end, I went with the special of the day risotto special of the day.

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For the record, Rob ordered the ^^Apple Lemon Verbena Soda on that specials board and loved it!

Lilac Risotto - with crispy ham hock

Lilac Risotto with crispy ham hock, parmesan cheese, butter blanched peas and a poached egg. Served with a grilled baguette topped with honey lilac butter – $16

You Guys. This was the best risotto of my life. It was perfect. Creamy, cheesy, buttery with the nice crisp of the hearty greens, a drippy runny egg to stir in, peas that pop in your mouth. Oh and that baguette! I wanted another, perfectly grilled with a smear of lilac butter. I wish it were always on their menu. But alas, that changes… for good reason. Remember? They source their own ingredients and are therefore seasonal, silly.

Rob did {surprise! surprise!} go with the burger. He did seriously consider the risotto and the some of the other items on the menu, though!

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Royal Brie and Bacon Burger – 1/3 lb Scottish Highland beef, farm fries and WAE housemade ketchup

Gorgeous, no? Overall, Rob thought the burger was okay. {Though he was jealous of my risotto after one bite!} He didn’t think it was seasoned very well. My bite didn’t have any brie, although it was a small portion that was beautifully whipped! I also found the bun, although nicely toasted, to be a bit bread-y, over-taking the flavor of the burger. That bacon though – insane. I’d say it’s more like pork belly. It probably is, I just don’t know about these things.

Those fries though! Rob said some of the most underrated fries in the Twin Cities. {If we’d ever update his best fries list, I imagine they’d make it!} The homemade ketchup had a flavor that I couldn’t put my finger on; but I wasn’t fond of it. No matter. The fries didn’t need them and we¬†rarely eat ketchup anyway.

I boxed up the rest of my risotto because I was quite full. But Rob insisted on the dessert menu. Since I didn’t take a photo of that menu, here is the back of the regular menu that lists the desserts as well:

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Rob was ogling over the Shake Diane; but the dessert menu had dessert beverages on it as well. That was when Rob ordered himself a glass of white port, but only after I ordered this, making me feel really guilty!

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Chocolate Cupcake with housemade ganache

This cupcake was a chocolate-lover’s dream. It was moist and decadent. I guess I was just hoping it wasn’t a dried out cupcake sitting around in their display case! It most certainly wasn’t. We went home with full bellies and a desire to return… sooner than later!

What’s the best Special of the Day that you’ve ever had?

{Maybe one you wish they’d bring back!}

Cheers~
Carrie

Quebec City: Observations & Next Time

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As a little endcap to our Quebec City scrapbook, I’d like to make mention of a few miscellaneous things we did, a few observations I made and a few notes for ourselves on what we’d do next time.

Not until I started writing this post did I realize that in our three nights in Quebec City, we popped into¬†three¬†Irish pubs! While it is the norm for us to find an Irish pub whenever we travel, our multiple stops in Quebec City were unintentional! In fact, none of them were planned.¬†They just happened to be in our path when timing, hunger or an inability to make a decision rose…

Irish Pub #1

First up is Pub Claddagh. Here, we decided to try an Irish-style Poutine:

I loved the concept of having an Irish-style version in an Irish Pub in Quebec City. In fact, we found out that nearly¬†every¬†bar and restaurant has their own take on poutine. It’s probably why Rob didn’t order it as often as he thought he would.

Irish English Pub #2

On another occasion, we were just stopping for a drink. This was at Pub Saint-Alexandre, which I come to find out now is technically English Pub.

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There is a Pub Chez Murphy’s now next door; but I just had the impression they were one in the same. We also got some fries to snack on here.¬†{Can you see why I got so sick of fries!?} They weren’t very good anyway. But it was also very close to the touristy area, so I probably wouldn’t ever eat here again. Or if I did, I’d go with their cheese plate, which hails cheeses only from Quebec. I wasn’t too hungry at the time; otherwise, you know that would have been my choice!

Burgers

Across the street was a restaurant called Les Trois Garçons which we noticed and were later recommended for burgers by an employee at Korrigane Brasserie. We learned that, especially in the touristy area, no one wanted you to walk in and try to find a seat at the bar. They had to seat you. It was a little annoying; but I had to realize it was part culture, part an attempt at crowd control.

I wasn’t too keen on going for burgers {more fries!}¬†while we were in Quebec City; but it was on a night that we couldn’t make a decision and just needed to stop walking. The burgers were okay, but nothing you’d have to make a stop for. In fact, I did take photos, but they aren’t blog worthy.

Italian

Because of Rob’s obsessive love of Italian food¬†{and my love for him}, we stopped on two separate occasions for Italian.¬†Italian food in Quebec City? Yup. Both were good. One had great service. The other did not. Another observation:¬†Service when you sit at the bar in Quebec is not at all like that in the U.S. Sometimes there is not a set bartender. Sometimes that bartender gets all the drinks and also has all the tables on the terrasse. So you don’t get a lot of interaction.

Irish Pub #3

Our last impromptu Irish Pub stop was probably our favorite of the three: Pub Saint-Patrick. We stopped here for a nightcap after one of our Italian dinners. They had such an extensive craft beer list! And I, not wanting anything too heavy after our Italian dinner, went with a cider instead…

IMG_7220Rob chose an absolutely amazing beer:

The Vache Folle {crazy cow!} Imperial Milk Stout is a high-alcohol creamy-goodness wonder. It was a perfect dessert!

Coffee

I wish we’d have found a better cafe for breakfast coffee and croissants. Our hotel offered them; but you had to let them know the night before. We popped into¬†Caf√© Paillard¬†one morning, as I had it written down as a recommendation; but it was more a chain type of place with absolutely no character. I was unimpressed.

However, what I do like are the espresso machines found behind nearly every bar!

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This is often the case in Europe, but rare in the U.S. I would just love this option, especially after a heavy meal and drinks or when I am designated as sober cab!

Hockey

I believe the whole world knows of the Canadians’ love of hockey. I thought I understood since I currently live in Minnesota, which is known in the U.S. as the “State of Hockey.” However, I did not. Keep in mind that we were in Quebec in July. Hockey news was displayed on every T.V. no matter where we went!¬†The biggest news at the time: the trade of Canadiennes’ P.K. Subban. There was quite the uproar!

Calèches:

I know that the horse-drawn carriages, known as cal√®ches in this quaint little town are supposed to offer a piece of history and a touch of romance to the visitor’s experience. You will also find these in the old part of town in Montreal. I read a few articles about them before our trip and I’ll have to agree. They are not exactly the most humane thing. I did see one driver having trouble “controlling” his horse and was beating him furiously, while the troubled tourists held on while their carriage went back and forth in every direction as the horse tried to evade each whip. NOT COOL.

Next Time:

I was really trying to be super relaxed about this trip and go with the flow. With a list of recommendations in hand, I thought we’d pick restaurants and things to do based on where we were at any give point in time. I regret this. There was too much indecisiveness on both our parts and it was just a little too relaxed. I also relied on my phone too much for maps and information when wi-fi wasn’t always readily available. I had a hard time keeping a charge on my phone more so than I ever had before.

So next time, I think we’d:

  • Enjoy Quebec City in the fall.
  • Get another hotdog at Inox.
  • Enjoy a cheese plate at the Chateau Frontenac with good wine or cocktails – worth the splurge!
  • Get more adventurous and try more traditional Quebecois foods like at¬†Aux Anciens Canadiens.
  • Get a queue de castor (beaver tail)¬†in Lower Town.
  • Book reservations at L’affaire est Ketchup – a popular restaurant that you need to have rez for at least several weeks in advance!
  • Eat less fries!
  • Try any, if not all, of the desserts at Pub du Parvis.
  • Wander the Parc de l’Esplanade or Plaines d’Abraham and¬†perhaps take a picnic.
  • Go to the Le Cercle Bar or Bar la Nankasi for music.
  • Or any of the places I listed at the end of this post.

We made our way to the train station for our 3 and 1/2-hour train ride to Montreal.

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The train ride was a much different experience from those I’ve had in Europe. There are actual car attendants that come around with food and drinks (for purchase). I felt more like we were on a flight.

I try not to have not to regret not doing something on my travels, but prefer to make notes for next time. That way, we learn from our mistakes and have some must-dos should we return!

What have you regretted when traveling?

My next post will be on Montreal, but until then, here are our other posts on QC, if you’d like to catch up!

Cheers~
Carrie

 

 

Terrasses & Salty Cheese

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I’m reminiscing about our summer trip to Quebec!

If you want to catch up, here are my previous posts:

One thing I read and we quickly learned is that the Quebecois love their terrasses (patios)! That is, in the summertime. Quebec has a whole different feel in the winter, of course. I had no intentions of making our trek to Quebec in winter. We get enough winter in Minnesota, thank you very much.

In fact, Minnesotans are quite fond of their patios, too. When the trees¬†start to bloom and you no longer need to wear a winter coat, I’ve even read in marketing emails and magazines, “It’s patio season!”

On our day out exploring the Rue Saint-Jean, outside the walls of the Old Town, we came across Bar le Sacril√®ge, written on my recommended list as known for “local brews”. It was a beautiful summer day – warm, but not too hot; no humidity and a slight breeze. As long as there were seats {most seats on the terrasse¬†are almost always taken}, it was the perfect¬†day to enjoy a Quebecois terrasse.

Keep in mind, many establishments’ terrasses¬†are located in a courtyard out back, which can be much nicer and more peaceful than facing the street. This was the case for Bar le Sacril√®ge. We walked through the door and asked to sit “au terrasses s’il vous pla√ģt.”¬†

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We hadn’t considered the fact that it was Thursday, around lunchtime and there would only be a few people out on the terrasse! It was a beautiful, tree-covered oasis.

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I can imagine this terrasse packed and animated on a Friday night, with those lights twinkling down.

I don’t believe they had a beer list, because we chatted with our server. We told him we were looking for an IPA and a stout and he gave us some excellent recommendations.¬†Since we were there around lunchtime, he also explained that they are a beer bar and do not serve food, well not a traditional menu. They just had a handful of snacks like chips, something else and salty cheese.

“Salty cheese!” Rob said emphatically. He thought it was funny that cheese would be described as such.

The server smiled and went off to fill our order.

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I will tell you that the Bor√©ale Stout was quite nice. And the¬†Bor√©ale IPA became one of Rob’s go-tos when he feared another beer was made with Belgian yeast. {The Quebecois love their Belgian-style beers and Rob does not!}

And that cheese really was salty! But very good. Here I was learning new vocabulary again: effiloché = shredded. Yes, this was shredded cheese! How strange to eat as a snack. They were big shreds, but shreds nonetheless. And made in Quebec!

Check them out:

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Speaking of French vocabulary, I was learning more and more words that I may not have learned in France otherwise.

For example, this:

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Rob asked, other than the Smoked Meat, what¬†the other paninis were on Bar La Ninkasi’s menu on the wall. Dinde Chutney = Turkey Chutney. But I didn’t know the word¬†cerf.¬†I had to look it up. Cerf = deer! Venison! This was a venison chipotle panini. Only in Canada! Sure, venison is common in the midwest, but not often in restaurants, nor on a panini, nor combined with chipotle. I had to photograph it because this is exactly what my dad would order if he were sitting beside me. We were there during the daytime. But Bar La Ninkasi is known for live music and karaoke if you are looking for some evening fun!

There were several other little establishments that we had listed as recommendations on Rue Saint-Jean. But we never got to those¬†because either the timing wasn’t right or we weren’t in the mood. I’m listing them here purely for my Next Time notes, or in case you’d like to give them a try if you are ever in Quebec City!

  • Fou-Bar (literally meaning “crazy bar”) – This was not on our recommended list. But I see it now on Google¬†maps and the interior looks interesting!
  • Le Moine √Čchanson¬†–¬†wine bar
  • Erico – chocolatier
  • Bistro Hobbit – also wasn’t on our recommended list, but the menu looks good!

How do you search for places to dine or go out while on vacation?

Cheers~
Carrie

Quebec City – Outside the Walls

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We loved exploring the city of Quebec! And although we loved staying in Vieux-Quebec, the vieille ville, some of the best little spots we found were located outside the walls of the fortified Old Town.

First up is Rob’s best hot dog of his life… {I can’t argue; it was pretty damn good!}

If you exit the Porte Saint Louis of the old town along Rue Saint Louis, the street becomes the Grande All√©e. It’s along here that you’ll find L’Inox Brasserie {brewery},¬†which we visited on our first day¬†after¬†we had lunch. Still, we perused their menu, on¬†which the Deluxe European Hot-Dog was highly recommended.

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After Rob saw one of those hot dogs served to another patron, he declared that we were coming back. It was almost as intense as Michael Scott declaring bankruptcy:

And so we did. And we were blown away. You see, this Deluxe European Hot-Dog {I love how they hyphenate it!} is not only made with specialty meats, but it is also served in a baguette. Yes, I said in, not on, like on a bun.

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This is because a hole is poked through each baguette with a warm pointy device {technical term}. The result is that warm doughy interior and the crunchy baguette exterior surrounding the entire hot dog. Genius.

We both tried to capture the guy prepping the baguettes on video; but it was challenging trying to keep all of the employees’ faces out of the shot. We didn’t get a good enough video;¬†but here is a teaser… It’s quick! So look carefully at the top of the screen and replay if you need to! Tee hee. I wish I knew how to make a GIF.

Inox has a few guest taps in addition to their own. That day, I went with the¬†Mystique Sparkling Cider. I love that they don’t ever put ice in the glass when serving cider, which is becoming more and more common in The States and was always assumed when we were in Ireland.

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Oh! There was also the beef jerky. Rob loved the fact he could find that on a menu!

After Rob’s epic hot-dog experience, we continued to walk along the Grande All√©e further away from the Old Town. We had intended to go far enough to take another street that intersects Rue Saint Jean. We had a list of little recommended hot spots we wanted to check out on that street. It was time for some hopping!

But along the Grande All√©e,¬†I spotted this cute little church with the doors swung open. It had a sign that read in French, “For Lease. For all types of business.”

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But the doors where open and from across the street I could tell that there some lights strung about. Was it a bar or restaurant? I had been to a church-turned-bar in Belfast back in 2000. I was curious…

But it was even better. Here is what we found:

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This was a secondhand book sale! I was in heaven. I could have spent hours in here just looking… There were hundreds and hundreds of books in this run-down church. It was really in need of repair. It would be so beautiful! Just look at the stained glass and tiles on the walls…

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There was a small section with books in English. However, most of all of the books and albums were in French.

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And when I found these, I just had to take a photo for my mom:

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Her favorite author’s books all translated in French. ūüôā Finding surprising things like these is why I love exploring new cities!

As we came up on Rue Saint-Jean and were about to take a right to make our trek down it back toward the old town, I¬†saw a sign to the left that read, Le Projet¬†–¬†Sp√©cialit√© Microbrasseries”.¬†I knew what each of the words meant, but I couldn’t determine what the building was.¬†My first thought was that it was a home-brew supply store called Le Projet¬†{The Project – great name} that specialized in microbrews.

But then I took a peak around the corner. The room was filled with people sitting at tables! It was a little bar, gastropub actually, that specialized in microbrews!

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I ordered the Boréale Concombre & Basilic (cucumber and basil) beer Рtap handle on the far right.

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It was a saison-style beer. Rob hates saisons and he hates cucumbers. So I guess it was kind of mean of me to offer him to try it without him knowing what it was. He hated it instantly! I just wanted him to have an open mind before he knew what the beer was!

I’ll tell you this, though, I do like cucumbers. In fact, I LOVE them. I eat them all summer long. But I’ve slowly learned that I don’t like cucumbers in my drinks. I made a mental note. Then I noticed any gin cocktails I saw on menus throughout the trip always had cucumber in them.

Have you ever discovered something surprising in an old building?

Cheers~
Carrie

Other posts on our trip to Quebec City: