In the interest of being honest, I need to fully disclose, I'm not an Oprah fan. No particular reason and no big rant about why. It's not a thing, it just is. But as we all know, favourite things, is originally inspired by Sound of Music. And so, without any attempt at poetry or a posh English accent a la Julie Andrews! I bring you, by way of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, a few of my favourite things in no particular order other then the order I remembered them in!
-The One of a Kind Christmas Show and Sale (http://www.oneofakindshow.com/toronto/index.php): I try to go to this show every year at Christmas. It's an eleven-day event featuring exhibitors from all across Canada (and possibly beyond, I'm not sure. The artisan website wasn't as transparent as it should be.) and their original art work ranging from jewellery to butcher blocks and knives. From puppets and superhero costumes to ridiculously expensive shortbread and jellies. From hats,scarves, purses, kids clothes, and baby clothes to wood carved pepper mills and chocolate everything! There is stunning photography, frozen dips, smoked spices,and every kind of knitted or woven or crocheted garment imaginable. Mostly I go to look, and to dream of what I would buy with unlimited funds. But I also always buy the duck rillettes from Les canardises; the lobster dip; and the Christmas pudding. This year, my friend LW went for the first time and it was nice to experience the show with her for the first time "again". When I arrived on site she was already there with another friend heading up aisle V. I felt that the ticket process took an absurdly long time, so when I got through the doors I headed to aisle T and zipped through. Then went over to aisle S when I got LW's text saying she was about to head over to aisle U! Whaaat? It was a good reminder to slow down, enjoy the sights, and artistry and talk to friends while I was at it. I need reminding of that when I don't have my girls with me, Anxiety sets in like I'm forgetting something or about to be late for something so I rush around, heart thumping, as if I've just mainlined coffee. LW smartly advised I cash in my free drink voucher for a glass of cab-sauv rather then the bottle of caffeine I was eyeing. Much better!
-Red wine. An obvious choice, but I was recently introduced to a semi local (Niagara wine region is about 90 minutes away, Well more like two hours seeing as I have to get three kids out the door and now drive a lot slower given my precious cargo and /or the precious cargo waiting for me at home if I'm alone) baco noir. It is a Henry of Pelham and lays to rest my qualms that Ontario reds just don't get enough sun and heat to fully develop. Let's be honest. Red wine, full-stop, is a favourite thing but I'm trying to be Canadian! Yumm! If you are looking for an Ontario white to try, I highly recommend Cave Springs Reisling. It's not as sweet as you think it will be and almost has a bubble to it. So delicious with curries, or oysters if you don't want bubbles, or a very large glass pairs quite well with it also.
-Montreal. Oh my gosh, if you haven't been you must, must, MUST go. The people are so lovely, and quite pretty to look at too. The food is delicious. The core is comprised of unique neighbourhoods and stores reflecting that. The nightlife-not that I've partake in it in...how old is R?...is heavy on the dance music but music and bars abound. I would drop everything to move there with Mark and my girls. Cinq-a-sept is a thing there! Everyone works really hard until 4:59pm and then zoom! Off they jet to the bar for wine or cocktails from 5-to-7. Supper is later. And luxurious. Want Poutine? Go to the local dive. So good. Cider, in its standard form or ice cider, is so quaffable you might become an addict. The perfect escape to somewhere other then here is exemplified in the vieux ville (old part of the city on the water's edge). It is a maze of cobblestone streets, horse drawn carriages, ultra modern spas, and churches more than a 100 years old that you can simply sit in and revel at the beauty or kneel and say a prayer of gratitude. Also? Boutique hotels. I made the mistake of staying at Hotel St.Paul (http://www.hotelstpaul.com/en/home.html) in June. I will never be able to stay at a chain hotel again without sighing and moaning in despair. The best guest services ever. Toiletries you want to steal extras of but that are handed to you freely. Chocolate truffles on the pillows, a view and a restaurant named Hambar (http://www.hambar.ca) where they cure their own prosciutto type meats. I had Mother's Day Brunch there which included a Caesar served with the aforementioned bacon as a garnish. If you ever go, search here: http://www.tourisme-montreal.org
-Malepeque Bay oysters. Briny, succulent, like the sea in a mouthful of meaty deliciousness. I could eat dozens of these. I have eaten dozens of these. Just the thought of oysters makes me want to run out and buy some. In fact, just the thought of horseradish ( and yes,I think of it more often than you'd think) makes me want to go get oysters. The worst thing I ever did was cultivate an appreciation for oysters in Mark because now I have to share.
-Caesars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesar_(cocktail)) when I was pregnant with L and then with C, I drank a lot of virgin Caesars. The juice, the spice, the salt, the vitamin c, the tangy notes of fresh lemon or lime, the horseradish (again! I should share my recipe for a horseradish sauce for grouper fillets). Pretty much all of the things my body wanted. I guess the craving stuck and I seriously can't get enough of them.
-The farmers market (April to October) Not only do I love my purchases but I love the experience. I go with my girls every Friday. Before school so R can enjoy it too. I actually have a honey lady, and a venison and sausage family, a cheese lady, and yes, of course, a maple syrup guy. All of them are regular vendors at one of the local farmers market's. In Ontario we have arguably the best strawberries, incredible wild blueberries (I'd say the best are in Quebec), juicy peaches, sweet corn, and bursting with flavour heirloom tomatoes. Sadly, all of it must be eaten in season or it just doesn't live up to the expectations.
And finally, I'm going to offer up something a little corny, a little cheesey, that's not actually edible: get-togethers. I love hosting get togethers. Big or small. Potluck or all my dishes. Super informal or a little more organized. With or without the skinny dipping in the summer after the kids go to bed. With kids or without. Mark and I are good co-hosts and we love throwing a party. Our recent wedding (September of this year) was so much fun it was pretty hard not say "getting married" as one of my favourite things. But then again, it is.