Sunday, January 14, 2018

Lake and Land Fun with Vistas in New Hampshire

It may be a small state, but New Hampshire has 373 lakes - more than one for every day of the year! Head for Squam Lake or hike up Rattlesnake Mountain for some breathtaking views of the lake. Hikers need not worry, there are no rattlesnakes here - just deep slithery lines embedded in the summit’s bedrock. The 35-minute ascent is so easy, young kids have no problem hopping along in sandals.
This lake has loons, so if you want to see them, take the 90-minute Squam Lakes Cruise from Holderness. The cruise boat is a cozy pontoon whose open sides allow for close viewing from all angles; plus binoculars are handed out. We spotted a mother loon gliding along with a chick on her back while hooting as dad dove for food. A naturalist from the Natural Science Centre is always on board to lead the way. Ours was Margaret, who actually comes from Saint-Jérôme. While steering the boat, she explained in lay-man’s lingo a lot about loons, and always invited us to spot them. It was exciting. Everyone felt they had just won the jackpot when they saw one. On board, we held replicas of eggs and examined facsimiles of loon bones as our guide gave us a short lesson on loons. In this very area The Loon Preservation Committee - open to the public - monitors their health and protects them. Harry Vogel, also a Canadian, is the chief biologist for this organization. “We were able to change the law. The use of led fishing tackle, and big jigs that kill these birds is now prohibited. So many end up swallowing them and die within hours.”
Squam Lake is small compared to Lake Winnipesaukee 34- kilometre length. Cruising in style on this famous lake – the third largest in New England – is the way to go.  I headed for the Ekal Activity Center in the touristy town of Meredith to hop on board a very special 7-seater boat.  Fittingly called Miss Meredith, this speed boat’s claim to fame resides in another name. It was once owned by Madame Chiang Kai Shek who summered here.  The Americans instantly took ownership of her precious vessel when the Chinese refused to side with them after the bombing of Pearl Harbour. They also booted her out of Meredith where she homed every summer. Miss Meredith smoothly made her way towards Governors Island where splendid mansions had us gushing with envy. They collectively seem to embody various lifestyles of the rich and famous. Sumptuous yachts docked beside throne-like deck chairs, and ornate facades with12-feet-tall cathedral windows looking out from on high made us feel very small. So much for Miss. Meredith!
Cottages goers and residents who live on some of the lake’s 258 islands need never worry about missing the mail - thanks to the (M/V) Sophie C. that leaves Weirs Beach weekdays and Saturdays. Since 1892, she’s been delivering mail to families who home here year-round.  Purchase your ticket at Weirs Beach; then hop on board the oldest floating post office on the continent.  You’ll see how it all happens as Sophie approaches several islands where residents wait to get the mail dropped to them on their docks.  Sophie also hands out ice cream and all kinds of snacks to everyone, including all hands on deck tourists.
The Squam Lakes Natural Science Center gives you incredible views into our world via its magical immersive exhibits. It’s just across from the loon cruise pontoon. If your feet long for land grounded in history, then tread back in time by visiting the abandoned 19th-century Canterbury  Shaker Village nearby. Guided tours every day.

                                        For information on this region, visit:

Tuesday, January 9, 2018


 A Scrumptious Ready-to-Eat Feast  

Eatz Encore stunningly satisfies all your food cravings with its imitable variety of made-on-the-spot connoisseur dishes.  The minute you walk into this cozy casual place in Westmount, Quebec, the Eatz Encore effect takes over. Soon you’ll be swooning in the nicest of ways. Your mouth will be watering; you’ll start smiling, then choosing from the vast selections of food on display. Soon you’re forgetting every problem you’ve ever had, not just because of the astoundingly delicious food, but also because there’s a huge human ingredient behind Eatz Encore’s doors. Genuinely warm family folk who run the place provide a welcome dose of divine dishes that perk up an emotional blahs.

Polish-born Krystyna Konefal who owns the restaurant has a warm, generous spirit. Despite the speed at which you get the food, there’s no stress here. Sons, Chris and Patrick join their mom, adding to this remarkably relaxed atmosphere – another beautiful ingredient at Eatz Encore.

Behind the Counter Kindness, Food Prepared with Love for Heavenly Taste Enjoyment
Greeting you is a mix of aromas from the endless eye-popping display of freshly made gourmet dishes with aromas  from Italy, Mexico, the Orient, India and Poland - to name  only a few of  Krystyna’s cuisine capabilities. She’s been cooking for over 30 years, and in 2003 she opened her multi-pleasing meal haven filled with different distinct dishes. It never gets boring here. You need at least one hour to visually take in all the goodies here; plus you can sample some.

Food for Health and Happiness
Mentored by Krystyna who was born to cook.  Chefs, Shipon and Milano create Eatz Encore’s palette-pleasing plates, 35 delightful dishes for your table here. And let’s not forget about the 65 or so different ready-go take home yummies already wrapped in the lower display case. It’s a royal feast, and best of all, the food you’ll be enjoying is chemical free, and get this…gluten-free  too in many dishes and desserts - all devoid of saturated fats, grease, sugar and all the other “false food” ingredients that you find in  many traiteurs and fast food outlets. 

This is not fast food; this is fabulous superbly healthy food ready to go right to your table in the restaurant or for take-out eating. Or when at home, call in and have it delivered. Their delivery menu has over 100 classic and exotic dishes! Is it any wonder Krystyna sometimes starts cooking at 3 am to make sure all her hungry customers can get their food fast!

I’ve returned several times to eat here. I can’t gloat enough over the General Tao chicken. Spicy and sweet, the tender chicken is perfectly seasoned.  But before you dig in, why not ask Krystyna to make you up a plate of her most incredible salads or veggie creations. 

You see them all at the counter. The quinoa is amazing. Hearts of palm, Kalamata olives baby tomatoes, feta and peppers of all kinds find their home in these healthy generous servings. And don’t’ forget prices go by the pound. You’re not stuck having to order different sizes.
You must try the cabbage rolls. I love both the veggie and meat ones. I’ve also taken home her quesadillas that are packaged and ever so low in price but big on taste. How about her burritos?

I preferred the jumbo tempura shrimp to her grilled ones for taste. Speaking of which, I also love her perfectly prepared tandoori chicken and the New Zealand orange roughy (fish) covered in almond slices. The salmon is sautéed in ginger with white lemon grass for simple yet optimum flavour.  It was so tender... absolutely wonderful!  None of Eatz’s dishes is soggy, drenched in a hodgepodge of everything with complex flavours. Krystyna keeps it simple. Wine vinaigrette made my salads superb, and the dumplings I took home were as delicate in texture as was the huge 2-inch thick hamburger steak I snagged for eating later at home. It was covered in sautéed onions. Wow!

Food You Never Have to Prepare; Just Answer your Door or Sit inside
Eatz Encore is a place of international gourmet surprises and that’s what makes it so much fun to keep coming back for more. The freshly-made meal repertoire is so vast, I call it Quebec’s Disneyland of delectable dishes. Eatz Encore is a perfect name for all the things it does; you can call in and pre-order what you want (once you get to know your favourites) and you can also count on at your door delivery. You can order lots of food or go for some small specialities too.  

Eatz Encore’s delivery menu has over 100 different gourmet dishes – too exciting to mention this time, but have you ever had stuffed Portobello mushrooms, lamb riblets, Hickory meatballs or knishes that could quell a hungry grouch? How’s that for tending to all the logistics of getting food to you fast. Of course, I just love going in there to gaze at all the goodies, sitting down, getting my favourites and trying new meals too. 

By the way, don’t miss out on the brownies; they almost melt in your mouth. The sugarless apricot cranberry cookies are incredible! 

One thing for sure, you can eat your way to heaven, but you’ll never feel heavy in the belly. Thank you Krystyna for making cold winter days as warm and wonderful as the soups she makes!!!

          The website is
 Eatz Encore is located at 4824 Sherbrooke West
              Call (514) 482-1778