Saturday, December 6, 2014

B&B: How to Gain Five Pounds in Five Days

It was so worth it. I hadn't weighed that much since I got my braces on last February.

We stayed in a bed and breakfast while visiting our daughter up in Vancouver because, frankly, there weren't any other real options. Hannah and her family live in Fort Langley, which is a small community in the Fraser Valley, about 20 miles or so east of downtown Vancouver. Our choice was basically between staying about a 10-12 minute drive away from Hannah's place in a modern motel in Langley and staying at a B&B a few blocks from her house. We opted for the latter.

The morning of our departure. Note the skiff of snow on the front lawn.

We didn't regret our decision. Our suite was very quaint and comfortable, with gas stove fireplaces (the only source of heat) in both the bedroom and the sitting room. Beautiful furniture and linens added even more character to the place. And the price was comparable to staying in a box motel, especially factoring in the cost of the marvelous breakfasts we had.

And those breakfasts! At 9:00 sharp, we descended down the wooden staircase to the small dining room (also heated by a gas stove) for our "first course" (as Marilyn, our host, referred to it): a delicious fruit salad with a very generous dollop of rich Greek yogurt, sprinkled with Maple syrup granules. I'm usually not a big fan of fruit salad, but this was absolutely delicious.

Marilyn, our host, is a very gracious, meticulous and funny woman. Every day, she would set the table with a different set of china and/or tablecloth. On our first morning, she informed us that the china we were using was in honor of us being American and of American Thanksgiving: it was a blue and white Currier and Ives sort of china with pictures of US presidents and sights depicted thereon.

Marilyn was full of stories. The coffee she served was called "Screaming Squirrel," a dark roast that had actually, she explained, been a "mistake" by an acquaintance of hers back in Ontario who started a coffee roasting business after her husband was diagnosed with cancer. Somehow or another, she ended up with it and was happy to serve it to us since most of her guests prefer a lighter roast.

Then there were a few stories from her childhood. She had been raised as a small child, she said, in the wilds of northern British Columbia. When the family later moved down to Squamish (about halfway between Vancouver and Whistler) and an aunt took her into Vancouver, she was bowled over. "I had never even seen a sidewalk," she explained, "and when my aunt took us to White Spot (a local chain restaurant), I thought I'd died and gone to some strange heaven."


When Mark noticed an old bicycle propped up against Marilyn's husband's art studio in the back yard, he asked her about it. Her father had given that to her when she was a girl. It was her first - and only - bicycle as a child. "My father had an unusual approach to teaching me to ride a bike, "she said. "He took me to the top of a hill, put me on the bike, then let go." We thought it best not to ask whether a visit to the hospital followed that initial ride.

Our first breakfast

Marilyn told us how she had raised four sons, now grown, and had taken care of her aging parents in the upstairs suite that was now our room. After the sons had grown and the parents had passed away, she decided to start the B&B. "It was," she explained, "my time to play." And it is a play that she takes seriously. After our first breakfast, she sat down with us to come up with menus for the next four days. She wanted to make sure that she served food that we would like. Here's what we came up with:

Tortiere (a French-Canadian pork pie) and coddled egg (never had one of those before)

Just about the best French toast I've ever had. The bread is a light raisin bread. A thin layer of - get this - marzipan was spread between the pieces and then they were baked in the oven. Then, Marilyn made a light sauce comprised of maple syrup and cream. I scraped the bananas to the side the focused on the rest. 

Not pictured were the pancake and sausage breakfast and the prosciutto/egg soufflé, sausage and muffin breakfast. Marilyn also took pleasure in mothering Nathan a bit. One day, we came back to our rooms, and he discovered that she had left two muffins for him, together with butter and jam.

Is it any wonder we gained five pounds while we were there? But like I said, it was worth it.

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