Winter is officially here, disclaimer: *sorry in advance* and I know some of you might have some early-winter blues (like me), so nothing better than a good, warm soup to cheer us up.
Am I right?

You can ask any of my close friends about my soup obsession, and that I can easily eat them all year long, from extreme summer days to ultra cold ones, without any shame. I find them tasty, the most comforting and filling and when we talk about Asian noodle soups, I'll be the first one doing that long lineup. Thankfully, Montreal is the city where you'll get endless food options, including Pho soups and on point Vietnamese little places you'll be addicted to.

Long story short for all of you, here are my favourite, the best Pho soups in Montreal you need to try or repeat more than once.

Tran Cantine 
Why this place: One of the latest additions of St-Henri, Tran is a little Vietnamese Cantine offering a fun menu with very reasonable prices (thank god). I've been here a couple of times and every single one I'm always there for soups. Every single thing is homemade here, the broth, sauces and the entire menu. You'll find appetizers like spring rolls, three options of Pho including chicken, rare beef and beef flank, and the popular Vietnamese sandwiches bahn mi (that I can't wait try next time).
What we had: Spring rolls to start, and two chicken Pho, for the heart.
Located at 4690 Rue Notre Dame Ouest, open Monday to Saturday from 11:30am - 9pm

Nguyen Phi
Why this place: This is one of the most popular spots that's been around in the city, and let's be honest, this Pho deserves a Guinness record.  You need to swim in their delish broth, full of flavour and rich in fresh ingredients like onions, ginger and a bit of cinnamon. You'll have plenty of pho options in here, a total of 23 different "tonki" soups, including shrimp, pork, veggie or well done beef. Bonus track: They are extremely kids friendly and they have a kids menu, yay!
What we had: veggie pho, chicken pho and their kids option of grilled chicken with rice.
Located at 6260 Chemin de la Cote-des-Neiges, open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am - 8pm.
Pho Lien
Why this place: this ultra crowded place in Cote-des-neiges was on my list since forever, and I spotted a quiet time to visit them and try their famous pho. Guys, the wait was absolutely worth it, at a point, I had to come back a week after for more. Keep in mind this place is for a quick stop, but be sure it'll be one of your best stops ever. Noodles are "fait maison" and the staff is fun and kind to accommodate families like ours.
What we had: Spring rolls (a must), Beef and chicken pho, their famous chicken grillade plate.
Located at 5703 Chemin de la Cote-des-Neiges open Wednesday to Monday from 11am - 10pm
Craving for one, right now! don't judge me.

What are your favourite Vietnamese places? Would love to try them!

xo




Last week, I had the pleasure to spend an afternoon with one of my favorite stores since forever, West Elm.
I love hosting (as I mentioned in my last blog post, about my holiday brunch here), so this was the perfect opportunity to learn from the best, how to decorate my very own Christmas table, tips on how to pair dinnerware & flatware, how to fold napkins, how to arrange your floral details and how to make this table, your style most of all.

During our atelier with the loveliest West Elm experts in Montreal, they walked us through the new 2017 Holiday collection (that I want ALL), and the new details they brought in this year, their big support to local brands that I absolutely adore, their newYouTube channel (that I had no clue about it and now I'm addicted), and along with 4 other bloggers/influencers of Montreal, we were lucky enough to have one table each and get the chance to style it and exhibit it in-store for the next 2 weeks, hooray!
(screaming of excitement here, raise your hands!)

Read my picks below, and all the tips we learned that night.


LEARN THE ETIQUETTE, FIRST OF ALL OK?
I always feel the holidays are made to learn all about entertaining, besides a good menu and great drinks. The art and etiquette of setting a table are so much fun, and with this mom brain of mine, of course, I felt like a kid again refreshing my memory on how to correctly set up the formal place setting of any table. 

Grab your notebooks, here you'll see a perfect step-by-step (video version) on how to do it like a real pro:


Right after you have your perfect table all set up, napkins are the next step. I learned how to do mine that night, and I included the cutest little greenery to my table (see all the pictures below) Ps. One way to fold your napkins in a super different way is the envelope style where you can even include a gift card or a note for your guests, yay!.  Take a look at the steps here:





MY FIRST "HEYMACA" CHRISTMAS TABLE 
Yes yes yes! I had so much fun having the opportunity to design a "HeyMaca" table with West Elm this year, full of life, colors, and the cutest little details that reflected so perfectly my personality and style. I opted to merry up the gorgeous electric blue wall of the store with some vibrant yellow touches, present in the salad plates and vases, all with modern touches and of course, fun! I listed the entire collection I picked for my table here below, and if you are in Montreal, don't miss the chance to check it out in the store until mid-December.
Ps. My love for Fishs Eddy is eternal and you'll see it!


WHAT I PICKED FOR THE TABLE

- Dinnerware
Main plate - Salad plate - Dessert plate
- Flatware
Modern and gold 
- Glassware
Gold and Stemless
- Coasters
White ash and gold
- Napkins
Center stripe 
- Metal Charger
In gold
- Table runner
Center stripe 
- Accessories and bright vases like this one and this one

Oh hey, I was sweating in here hoping you really like this table! (: 
The prettiest Marble coasters, with a gold detail, made straight in heaven. 




Thank you, West Elm, for the invitation to this lovely event and for partnering with HeyMaca. All opinions are 200% (or maybe more) mine.
Ps. I bought the yellow plates and the Charley Harper by Fishs Eddy ones as well. Couldn't say no.

Photography: Sylviane Robini 




Ok Google, play a Holiday playlist?
Between Christmas dinners, gift exchange get-togethers,  endless shopping sessions for everyone, I have to say, this is THE season and one of my very favourite. I feel sometimes there are so many cute ideas and so little time to do them all when it comes to entertaining a party,  at least in my case where I tend to host a million of them during the holidays. 

If you are still looking for some ideas during the holidays, I've got you totally covered, especially making your life way easier with your very own personal assistant (no, it's not a dream), the new Google Home Mini. 

Read all the essential tricks on how to throw an epic brunch party, how to optimize your time and how to set the mood with your friends, easy breezy! 


YOUR SHOPPING BESTIE 

So, first thing first. We are here for food (well, and good company, and a good time together, obviously), and when it comes to organizing a little or big party, organization and planning is key. If you want to have the dreamiest spread, you need to have every single detail handy and as a master list maker, I go crazy creating different shopping lists with the help of Google Home Mini. Generally, I separate two different lists, Food and Drinks.

THIS BRUNCH
In the menu:

  • Maple Canadian bacon with leeks and green onions 
  • Eggs cocotte with aged cheddar cheese
  • Spinach and feta puff pastries
  • Sausage puffs
  • Prunes & bacon rolls 
  • Panned cheese curls 
  • Sparkling water with fresh fruits (and a bit of gin, if you are game in the morning) 

HOW TO DO IT
To make it work with your Google Home Mini, you can personalize any items in your shopping list. Just say "Ok Google, add eggs to my shopping list", then open your Google Home app, go to Menu, more settings and bam, your shopping list will be there. If you want to create different ones, tap new list and write a new name. 
Win: there is no limit of the number of lists you can create, so welcome to heaven! 


MAKE IT FUN, WITH VIDEO!
Wishing I had the ability to be a Master Chef one day *cough*, multitasking between pots and ingredients, when your menu is extensive and you are cooking different plates at the same time, a video comes in very handy. I'm extra (cap that) visual and when I see step-by-step recipes I swear they taste and look better. One super rad feature I discovered in my Google Home Mini, is that you can follow instructions for any recipe with the help of YouTube, so much fun, right?

HOW TO DO IT
Ok Google, play on TV how to make an egg cocotte on YouTube on the living room TV?  ... and magic!
You will need to have a Chromecast or a TV with a Chromecast built-in to make this work, link your TV to your Google Home App, and voila!
Welcome to the future, friends!


MUSIC, MAKES THE PEOPLE, COME TOGETHER
Because what's a party without good music? Seriously, when all your hands are full, a personal assistant becomes your number one BFF, and in my case, I use my Google Home Mini since early in the morning, all set up with our Spotify family account. Funny enough, this little and magic device recognizes voices (up to 6), and if I'm the one asking for some music, my songs will be played, and even all my favourite playlists, same for my husband's! So smart!

HOW TO DO IT
Got Spotify? Google Play Music? we got this! Just log in via your Google Home app and you can now play all your favourite Spotify playlists from your Google Home.

BONUS
Check the bottom of this post, I created a Holiday playlist for your upcoming party, yay!
Thank you to my lovely friends Joanna, Kris and Crissy.
You rock my world!
This post is a partnership with Google Canada, all content, bacon overload and opinions are entirely mine. 


HOLIDAY BRUNCH WITH 
HEYMACA x GOOGLE HOME




Right after Nico's birthday weekend, our holiday traditions start by playing Peanuts (my forever favorite movie), wearing festive outfits, removing the dust of last year's ornaments and baking lots and lots of cookies for Santa. We spent our Sunday afternoon smelling all things chocolate and cookie dough, with two of the messiest little helpers a mama can ask for, and I swear, our baking sessions are 10 times slower than any other but it's priceless to see Olivia eating some dough and Nico trying to crack those eggs by himself.

I've learned that we, as moms, need to take a long deep breath and let them play, let them explore, and have all the fun in the kitchen and as much as they want, and even more when Chocolate is involved in the equation, because let's be real, we all know magical things happen, instantly. 

We discovered Chocolat Favoris's new cooking line, and I cannot wait to show you what's new, a fun recipe and our first magic moments with our little cuties. 


Proud Mini chocolatier, most precise measuring dude and the funniest 5-year-old boy who loved our baking afternoon was the master chef in charge, picking up our recipe, ingredients and even all the details of our cookies.
Disclaimer: between Paw Patrol episodes, and infinite tastings, AKA Sugar high party!

Chocolat Favoris recently launched a new full line of chocolate heaven and I couldn't wait to try everything - every- single - thing. Here are my top favorites you'll adore for a homemade baking day:


THE SWEET SIDE OF COOKING TOP 3 FAVORITES:

1. Cooking book - La Cuisine a Croquer
Only available in French, for now, this absolutely beautiful and omg delicious recipe book comes with over 50 original recipes and fun activities for you and your little ones, including arts and crafts which I absolutely adored.
From base recipes, little morning ideas, snacks, supper and more, you'll dig in a world of magic and chocolate, what else can you seriously ask for?

2. Chocolate Drops 
Calling bulk bag heaven? Present! If you were dreaming to have Chocolat Favoris secret in your kitchen, stop dreaming now because you can get all of them now. They have five flavors available including Original Milk, Original Dark, Dreamy White, Dulce de Leche and 73% Dark, an absolute dream!

3. Toppings
Whatever I express here about these toppings won't make any justice to the real yum they'll add to your recipes. We've tried Chocolatey crisp pearls, Dehydrated marshmallows and cocoa nibs, all of them for the absolute win.

Here you see them, counting every gram going in, like real pros!

This one is for me, this one too, and this one mama, okay?

So, action time now! Grab your ingredients and little helpers and enjoy this recipe available in La Cuisine a Croquer of Chocolat Favoris:

PETITS BONHOMMES


WHAT YOU'LL NEED
1/4 cup of flour
1/2 tsp of baking soda
5 eggs
1 cup of sugar
1 tbsp of vanilla
1/4 cup of oil
*want a chocolate base version? add 1/3 cup of cacao powder

HOW
1. Preheat oven at 350F
2. Grab your favorite baking tray and add butter
3. In a big bowl, mix flour and baking soda
4. On your mixing machine, add the eggs with sugar and pour the vanilla.
5. Add the dry mixture with the eggs and pour the oil at the end.
6. Have fun and bake cookies!

CUTE DECOR TIME

WHAT YOU'LL NEED
150g of dark chocolate drops
150gr of classic milk drops
400g of white milk drops
15 cookies
Any toppings you'd like to use
*add colors with your favorite food coloring

HOW
1. Melt your chocolate drops (all in different bowls) in your microwave
2. Add food coloring if you want to have different tones
3. With the help of a brush, add the melted chocolate and play with the decor
4. Sprinkles time!
5. Put them in your fridge 10 minutes

Voila! 

This post was in partnership with Chocolat Favoris, and I can't wait to see your comments about their new baking collection available online and in-stores. 
All opinions, sugar high and comments are mine. 


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