the gourmand’s vacation

After two weeks away, we are back home in Norman Wells. And it is still as cold and dark as when we left! Cold, dark, but not miserable. Well, we may have touched on misery when both Jesse and I were struck with illness, having just returned from a wonderful vacation in California, to an unservicable car, extreme temperatures and an overwhelming feeling of homesickness for New Zealand and its lovely summer.

natural macarons
All natural (and all DELICIOUS) macarons at Miette, Hayes Valley

But we pushed through. And now we are back to feeling at peace about being here, continuing to make this our home. It was close – we were oh so tempted to stay in Vancouver where the sun was shining, the goose-down parka was out of sight and the airline jobs beckoned, but the warm welcome from our beautiful northern friends once we stepped off the jet on our home (snowpacked) turf reminded us why we are here.

instant icecream
icecream on the spot
One of our favorites – instant icecream, made to order, at Smitten Icecream

The real killer of the long, cold winter here North of 60 is the lack of sunlight. Not because of the resulting vitamin D deficiencies, nor that it means cycling to and from work with reflector jackets and headlights. Not even because there are days where we get no more than 3 hours of dull ‘light’ peeking through the white out.

bar tartine
Bar Tartine, a taste sensation, most famous for their breads, but extremely good at their desserts. A very nice surprise to chance upon the unsigned (really, the best cafes have no signage) cafe in San Francisco having heard about it plenty on the blog world.

Nope. The killer is the inability to photograph. If the wintertime blues don’t get me down, the photography blues will.

Plenty of cute cafes in Victoria.

But we are gaining about 5 minutes of sunlight a day (hooray!) and already their is a wee slither of sunlight left at 5pm as we cycle home from work.

For now I am sharing some snippets from our foodie adventure in, firstly, San Francisco for Christmas and New Years, followed by a couple of days with friends in Victoria, Vancouver Island.

San Francisco was a gourmand’s delight, with classy cafes and sustainable local markets at every turn.

The mushroom market.

Plus the classics, those restaurants you hear about and simply must stop in. Especially on that cold, drizzly San Francisco afternoon where warm soup and sourdough beckons.

Boudin Bakery tempted us with their smells of freshly baked bread.

We followed Heidi Swanson (101 Cookbooks) around the city, adhering to her wonderful list of favorites. We made our way to many of her top spots, including her coffee frequent, Blue Bottle Kiosk. Bit stalkerish, I know.


We sought out top espresso spots every street we walked, striving to find a flat white replicate. Four Barrel Coffee won out in the coffee category, and Michel Angelo Italian Caffe for authentic Italian cuisine.

Christmas morning greeted us with fresh fruit crepes. Nothing beats bringing fresh market produce home to create beautiful meals with family. Fresh fruit (that means without mould, without soggy spots, and without airplane-ride-bruises) is one thing we will always miss here in Norman Wells.

christmas breakfast crepes

9 thoughts

  1. Happy New Year, Christina! So glad you enjoyed the trip! You guys must have it really rough since I hear no complains about SF weather! Looking forward to more of your posts!

    • The weather was lovely! Sun and a wee bit of rain – both of which we don’t get here these days so both were much appreciated! It was glorious on the day we biked over the bridged so definitely no complaints!

  2. I’ve been looking forward to this post and hearing about your SF trip! It’s always hard to come home after a wonderful vacation, but having great people to come home to makes it easier 🙂 Victoria is my neck of the woods – if you’re ever down there again, let me know. Happy New Year Christina!

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