My friends spoiled me rotten this past weekend for my birthday. I’m known for having fairly particular tastes, which makes gift-giving an anxiety-inducing affair for my friends and family.
Luckily, I didn’t have to force any smiles or exclamations of, “Oh, you (really) shouldn’t have!” this year. I can be a bit of a tough nut to crack when you first get to know me but by this point, my friends have figured out the formula success. Good food and great conversation with a few craft cocktails is all I ever really want. Although, a few luxury goods sprinkled in the mix don’t hurt either.
My parents and friend Jessie took me for dinner at Stofa on my actual birthday. The meal was fantastic and I’m planning to pen a full review of the restaurant very soon. Most people I speak with haven’t heard of Stofa and it’s deserving of more attention.
Jessie dazzled me with a bunch of pink helium balloons that we tied to my chair during dinner, a dozen cupcakes from the Cupcake Lounge and last, but CERTAINLY not least, an Yves Saint Laurent card holder for all my future business dealings.
My friend Claire took me out for lunch earlier in the day at Hintonburg Public House. I was keen to go there because I recently feel in love with their Jalapeño and Cheese Curd Smokie. This sausage from Seed to Sausage is pretty much the most delicious form of tubular meat you could dream of putting in your mouth.
The jalapeño gives it plenty of kick and the cheese curds get perfectly melty when the sausage is grilled – making for a delightful gooey surprise when you cut into it. Seriously, order this.
Claire also surprised me with a couple of beautiful pink stemless glasses with gold rims from Anthropologie. She knows I’m a sucker for a pretty food styling prop – I can’t wait to create the perfect cocktail to serve in them.
Over the weekend, my lovely friends, Erin, Jessie, Dianne and Mary Anne rented a beautiful waterfront cottage in Val des Monts, Quebec. Dianne decorated the house with oversized helium balloons filled with teal and gold confetti, a felted banner reading, “YAASSS QUEEN” and an array of posters of Antoni from Queer Eye with some of his most infamous quotes under each, such as, “I’m like a dairy freak.”
Dianne is also a fantastic florist and created the beautiful arrangement pictured here.
On the Friday evening, we all headed over to O’Brien House in Chelsea to enjoy an incredible meal. My friends Claire and Kylie joined us as well. We enjoyed a five-course set menu which was accompanied by Canadian wine pairings and preceded by four “farm snacks” – essentially amuse bouches.
Nestled in the heart of Gatineau Park, O’Brien House is a recently opened boutique hotel that resides in a 1930s mansion that once belonged to Ambrose O’Brien, renowned industrialist and founder of the NHL.
The hotel is a real slice of Canadiana and offers unprecedented views of Gatineau Park’s natural splendour. The dining experience focuses heavily on locally sourced ingredients as a nod to the hotel’s sense of place.
The balance of the weekend was spent at the cottage and a nearby beach. My friend Erin outdid herself with flawless coordination – including many delicious home cooked meals. It’s no small feat planning to feed five women over the course of a weekend. Major shoutout to Erin’s partner Tim who made 27 trivia questions based on the year 1988, field hockey, famous people named Yvonne and Cambridge, Ontario (my hometown). The trivia questions were employed to great effect in a mid-afternoon drinking game on Saturday.
My dear friend Julia who lives in Halifax sent her love from the East Coast in the form of a bottle of Dillon’s Rose Gin and a gift certificate to Bloomfield’s, one of my favourite local flower shops. I have some creative intentions for that Rose Gin – stay tuned.
Kylie recently embarked on a cross-country road trip and brought back some lovely cocktail components from local purveyors along the way. A set of bitters from Twisted & Bitter in Vancouver and lovely cocktail cherries as well.
Mary Anne brought an eclectic assortment of board games to keep us entertained, including Mille Bornes which was a new one for all of us, I’ll let you do your own independent research there.
Mary Anne also gifted me with a beautiful bottle of Scotch, Bowmore 12 Year which I’ve used in the recipe. Paired here with lemon juice, honey syrup and pretty Crème de Violette, this drink is strong but sweet.
Scotch and a tube of Chanel lipstick in a classic red – encouraging me to live out that famous Elizabeth Taylor quote for my 30s and beyond, “Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together.” Cheers to that.
In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine 2 ounces Scotch (I used Bowmore 12), 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice, 3/4 ounce Crème de Violette and 1/4 ounce honey syrup (equal parts honey and hot water, stirred until honey dissolves). Shake that all up and strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon wheel.
Recipe from: Jones, Carey and McCarthy, John. "3 Crème de Violette Cocktails to Get You Ready for Spring." Food & Wine. June 2017.