Tag Archives: cake

Morning in Avignon and Les Halles Market

This morning’s deep fog gives way to a bright sunny day by the time we depart for a guided walking tour of Avignon. Expected high, 27 degrees. One of the nice parts of the Viking walking tours (and other tours about) are the quiet boxes they supply. You tune into the frequency dictated by your guide, adjust the volume, hang the unit around your neck and put the ear piece in. The gear is very light and comfortable and as you are touring and in range you can hear the guide and therefore they do not need to shout in the streets which I imagine would be quite annoying to those living there.  It also allows you to wander quite a bit and take photographs and still get the down low. Our guide today was once again very knowledgeable and interesting.

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Avignon, so very different than Arles, offers views of exquisite architecture, ramparts, gargoyles, narrow cobble streets, tall buildings and the papal palace. The spilly floral displays and colourful shutters of Arles are absent but are replaced by tall windows and detailed wrought iron work.

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Our tour ends at Les Halles, a fabulous food mecca and one of the highlights of the morning. After spending an hour perusing the candies, flowers, spices, meats, fish, charcuterie, vegetables, bread, chocolate and ready made goodies, we choose a cafe for lunch and people watching before returning to the ship.

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We lunch at one of many little sidewalk cafes, Perigord Gourmand on Rue du Vieux Sextier. Here we eat from the Formule Plaisir — “fun menu” , which includes an appetizer, main and dessert for 16 euro.

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Rob chose the foie gras on gingerbread with fig compote and pear and I had the in season, asparagus cream soup. Both apps were light and delicious.

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For mains Rob ordered the duck with mushroom sauce and potatoes. The sliced duck was done a nice medium rare and the potatoes were roasted to a perfect crisp. I had the panfried, very thin steak ordered medium  but so thin it could only be cooked through. It came with a thin Roquefort sauce.

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Rob definitely won the round. I have to remember not to order beef in Europe. It is at best, just fine. We both opted for the very well made lemon tart for dessert.

After lunch we return to the ship to relax and look at our photos and check in with friends and family. The ship departing for Viviers at 3:30, hosts a classic French tea as we cast off. Tea includes a selection of herbal and black teas, French press, home made goodies such as madeleines, fresh apple filled donuts, apple and lemon tarts, and sandwiches of lox and cream cheese, delicate, savory ham and cheese, and egg with peppery watercress.

By 4 pm we are well underway and spend a relaxing afternoon on our private balcony, watching Avignon recede in the distance and enjoying the pretty Rhone coast while sipping sparkling wine.

Dinner on the ship this evening celebrates the spring produce in Provence. White asparagus graces each dish offered up by the chef. Our appetizer choices are delicate quail breast and leg with buttery risotto and monkfish with pesto and garlic chip.

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Main courses opted for are sole fillet with white asparagus, cucumber salad and quinoa, and pork chop with mustard crust and au jus, asparagus, roasted fingerling potatoes and apple compote.

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Apricot clafoutis and apple rhubarb cake completed our spring time bounty of Provence meal.

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We are finally feeling mostly normal after two long days. Tomorrow we have lots of time to sleep in before our afternoon excursion via steam train to Ardèche.


A Truly Rockin’ Cake!

100% edible, down to the last detail — even the masking tape with channel assignments!

Rob celebrated making it to a half century this May. His choice of celebration was to rock into the evening with a fellow band mate also celebrating his 50th, and a music club full of friends. The happy mood was heightened by holding the celebration on Ottawa’s only sunny spring day to-date and the fact that none of our good friends were spirited off in the long-awaited rapture non-event.

As friends and family chatted, got reacquainted, drinks in hand, the party got started as the band, “The Bruised Egos” hit the stage. When the first set ended, the corks started popping and champagne started flowing. One of the highlights of the celebration was a fantastic cake creation by Katherine Castonguay of Cakes So Good. Katherine designed and made a “mixing board” cake that was so authentic looking that some of the pub’s kitchen staff were annoyed that the band would leave a mixing board in the walk in cooler all day. All of the details, from the screen printed graphics, to the sliders and knobs, to all of the jacks for microphones, and other inputs were startlingly realistic.

Ready to open the champagne.
Testing the knobs.
Other edibles: Sheet music, magazine covers, currency and stamps from Rob’s birth year.

The cake was a rich, dense, fudgey chocolate scratch cake of Katherine’s own making, with a Swiss butter cream meringue filling. Decorated with fondant, modeling chocolate and printed edible icing, it was on display for about an hour and a half before it was served. Guests were truly agog over the realistic creation and reluctant to have the cake cut into. Rob cringed as he made the first cut.

It was really hard to cut this cake!

Happily, the cake was just as delicious to eat as it was to look at. The icing and butter creme were perfect with the fudgey chocolate, not overly sweet, just nicely complimentary. I had really expected the cake to be “just cake” and the decoration of the cake to be the hit of the party, but the cake itself was amazing in taste and texture. I even had some for breakfast the next day, something I would never do unless it was really worth the calories. It was. Thanks, Katherine for making our event extra special!

Ready to eat — delicious!