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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Friday night we picked up some pumpkins and carved them for Halloween. While carving the pumpkins we watched Halloween by Rob Zombie and sipped a seasonal Pumpkin beer.
This autumn ale is brewed by Great lakes Brewery. The ale has an assortment of specialty malts and hops, with generous amounts of pumpkin added into the brew. You can taste a hint of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and allspice.

A perfect Halloween sky.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

MBT Stage 2: Les Contamines to Bonhomme de la Croix

Day 2 of the trek would have us trekking from Les Contamines to our first refuge Croix de la Bonhomme. We woke up, had a bowl of cereal and caught the free local bus to the trail head at Notre Dame de la Gorge.
The start of the trail is a gradual ascent up slate rock which later turns into gravel road, which then turns into dirt foot path that winds its way through some of the most spectacular scenery.

Great view of the trail we just hiked up.The sun was cooking our shoulders/arms and would get worse.

We continued on the trail passed a pile of boulders and rocks placed to
commemorate a hiker who parished in a storm in 2005.

Here we met a Scottish couple that were kind enough to take our photo and lend us some much needed sunscreen.

The scenery just gets more spectacular with different shades of blues, greens, whites, and greys.

We enjoyed some more chorizo, tomatoes, apple, cheese and a hint of wine we hiked up in our platypus.
We continued up this path towards Col du Bonhomme (2329m) and which is a perfect place for lunch. There was a very angry sheep there that was chasing all the hikers and making an awful sound, it was humorous. We relaxed here for a long time, feeling the sun on our faces, peering out at the colorful mountains and checking out the wooden bivouac shelter.

Although I did not want to give up this spectacular view we hiked over the Col de la Croix de la Bonhomme in anticipation of the afternoon scenery and the our first refuge of the hike.
Just as were coming over a ridge I saw what appeared to be a wooden building down below surrounded by mountains.

Refuge Bonhomme de la Croix

Trekking down the refuge, with a sweet sweet backdrop!

The stone part is the only part that survived WW II invasion.

Relaxing on the grounds around the refuge.

The view from the refuge.
Enjoying some wine after a long day trekking.
Uber Relaxed!

The owner and chef with the wicked fro.

We anxiously waited for 7pm for dinner to be served.

Sunsetting over Mt. Pourri (3779m)
- again the sweet sweet view from the refuge.

Summary of Stage II

Route: Alternative
Total Hours: 7 hours
Total Kilometers: 18km
Height Gain: 1579m (Col des Fours)
Height Loss: 929m
Accommodations: Refuge Croix du Bonhomme
Cost: 88€ for 2 adults demi-pension
(i.e. bed, dinner, breakfast for 2).
Meal: Dinner was soup and homemade bread;
pasta in a white cream sauce;
delicious stewed beef with carrots;
a massive cheese platter for dessert
with large homemade biscotti
and a ½ Litre of red wine.

*If carrying your own food the refuge has a room with a couple burners to boil water and cook.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

I am ecstatic that it is a long weekend for me and for the first time in what seems like about 6 months I have nothing to run around and do. Well there are always offers to go places and do things, but after an exhausting few months and weeks I am dedicating this weekend to ME. That does not mean I will be sitting around pampering myself. It means I can finally get the things done that I have planned for so long. First will be renovating my bathroom....somehow as a first time house owner this seems fun.

Even so I will certainly leave room for some fun things like pumpkin carving, cooking, and doing whatever it is I feel like. It also means that I may get around to blogging a few more recipes and about the stages of the Alps hike that have yet to be posted over at uberfit. One recipe I have wanted to post was a recipe I made last Sunday. It seemed perfect for the rainy fall day we had. Not to mention it was great to be able to eat the very bowl the food was served in.

This dish can be rustic or elegant looking depending on how you want to dress it up. But one thing is for sure the nostril opening aroma of the baking sausage, the feeling of the fresh corn kernels as they burst in your mouth and the smooth warm goat cheese melting on your tongue will keep you eating more portions then you probably should. Not only is this dish appetizing, the bright colors of the peppers (reds, yellows, oranges) are appeasing to the eye. I love to eat these as a meal, but you could easily serve them as a side dish. As a side I’d tend to go more of the vegetarian route.

Spicy Sausage Stuffed Peppers

3 large bell peppers (red, yellow or orange), halved and seeded
2 T olive oil
2 spicy italian sausages
5 garlic cloves, miniced
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup corn kernels
2 cups cooked rice
chipotle powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprila
ground pepper
goat cheese
spicy salsa

In a large pan cook the sausages over med high heat until browned. Remove and let cool (enough to be able to touch and crumble sausage up into small pieces). Add them back to the pan with a bit of olive oil and add the garlic, onion, corn and heat.

Add the cooked rice and mix. Add the spices and adjust flavors to your liking.
Now spoon mixture into the halved peppers and pressing mixture in to get as much in as possible.

Place peppers in a baking dish with about 1" water at the bottom. Cover the dish with tin foil and place in a preheated oven at 375F. Bake for 35 to 4o min. The peppers should be tender to a fork when pierced.
Serve with goat cheese and salsa. The goat cheese will melt into the mixture adding so much flavor. You can also choose to bake it with the goat cheese and salsa already on it, however I like to add mine at the end.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Veal Piccata with Pumpkin Polenta

Having recently been to Italy, I have been craving veal scaloppini with porcini mushrooms. I had this dish a few times while in Rome and Venice and it was so delicious - light, tender and served with a nice silky wine and mushroom sauce. I was going to make this same dish and eventually we get around to doing that. However I decided to try something different and went with a Veal Piccata recipe from Cooking Light Italian.

To celebrate the fact that fall is here I served it with some colourful pumpkin polenta. I have always found polenta to be dry and not overly flavourful. The addition of the pumpkin really enhanced the flavour and texture, that I have new found hope for polenta.

Veal Piccata

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Dash of salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon water
1 large egg white
1/3 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
4 (2-ounce) veal cutlets
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
Lemon wedges (optional)

Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Combine water and egg white in another shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Place breadcrumbs in a third shallow dish. Working with 1 cutlet at a time, dredge in flour mixture. Dip floured cutlet in egg white mixture; dredge in breadcrumbs.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add cutlets to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove from pan; keep warm.

Add broth, rind, juice, and capers to pan; simmer 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour over cutlets; serve immediately. Garnish with lemon wedges, if desired.

Pumpkin Polenta

1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
2 cups water
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups instant dry polenta
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shaved fresh Parmesan

Bring milk and water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add pumpkin and salt; stir with a whisk. Reduce heat to low, and gradually whisk in polenta; cook 1 minute or until thick. Remove from heat. Add 3/4 cup grated Parmesan, cream cheese, and sage; stir until cheeses melt. Top with shaved Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Stage 1 of the Mont Blanc Tour

Check out Uberfit for Stage I of my trek on the Mont Blanc Tour. Great food shots and great mountain views. We trekked 18 km from Chamonix, France to Les Contamines, France.

Monday, October 12, 2009

MBT Stage I - Chamonix to Les Contamines

Chamonix is surrounded by the Mont Blanc Massif.

Marc enjoying his first, but certainly not last, panini in Chamonix, France.

Best Microbrew Pub in town - Microbrasserie de Chamonix or MBC.

Even better it is run by Canadians.
Marc enjoying a nice pint and I a glass of red wine.

Large portion of burger with rockfort cheese, fries and coleslaw.

Veggie burger was massive with roasted eggplant, peppers, onions, zucchini, chickpea spread, lettuce, cheese and tomato. Served with salad and coleslaw. Needless to say I was full after, but man was it delicious. Good fuel for the hike the following day.

View of Chamonix in the morning before the hike. Clear skies.

Marc walking to find us some breakfast in Chamonix. We decided to hop on the bus from Chamonix to Les Houches and find a bakery there.

Bakery in Les Houches directly across from the telepherique du Bellevue. We bought a baguette with jambon, beurre and cornichons (ham, butter and cheese on a baguette). The fresh bread was so delicious. We ate it on the way up the telepherique du Bellevue, after shooting back an espresso at the cafe next to the Bakery.

Telepherique du Bellevue.

Because we decided on trekking the alternative route versus the main route, we took the telepherique du Bellevue, which brought us from about 1100ft to 1645ft and cut 2½ hours off our trek. We choose the alternative route as the views were supposedly much more spectacular than the main route and it did not disappoint. Considering the alternative route for Stage 1 is 18km and about 8 hrs of hiking (not including stoppage time) with a height gain of 1478m and loss of 1318m, we thought that taking the telepherique was a good way not to burn ourselves out on the first day.

The telepherique brought us to the Col de Voza. From here we trekked the alternative route towards Les Contamines. This route took us over a cable bridge and through an open field full of wild blueberries, where we could see the Glacier de Bionnassay in the backdrop.

Signs pointing us in all directions, we choose the alternative route to get the highest elevation possible, and the better views.

Suspension bridge.

Field of wild blueberries.

Making sure we take the right route (thank you Kev Reynolds). The path continued gradually upward towards the Col de Tricot at which point you can see the Refuge de Miage in the valley below.

Amazing view of the Mont Blanc....very bright out.

Stopped for lunch on the trek down to Miage. Cheese, crackers, cherry tomatoes, chorizo sausage....this would prove to be lunch for many days.

At Miage we were able to fill up your platypus with ice cold refreshing glacier water coming out of an old wooden barrel.
Hotel Mont Joly, Les Contamines

After 6 ½ hours and 16km of hiking we arrived in Les Contamines and found our way to our B&B - Mont Joly. Nice place good location, if coming from main route, but if taking alternative route, like we did, try to find lodging closer to the start of Stage II. We were able to take theh free local bus to the start of the trail head. In addition, there are cheaper places to stay, but if money not a concern, this place is cute, nice hosts, and decently priced.

Knowing that the next two nights of our trek would have us high in the Alps with no access to grocery stores, we stocked up on lunch and snack foods from the Huit a Huit in town.

Normally 7pm would be a perfect time to dine, but after a long day of hiking we were desperate to eat something substantial. Considering none of the restaurants serve dinner until 7pm, we went to a boulangerie where we bought a small pizza and baguette with sliced egg, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, pesto and cheese. We picked up some beer and wine from the Huit a Huit and sat in the park enjoying a picnic dinner.

Stage I - Summary

Route: Alternative
Total hours: 6 hours (if take telepherique and 8 hours if not)
Total Kilometers: 16km
Total Elevation Gain: 4848’
Total Elevation Loss: 1318’
Accommodations: Mont Joly

Cost: 61 € for 2 people for bed and breakfast
Meal: Pizza and Baguette Sandwich from Boulangerie
Grocery Store: Huit a Huit