“We were supposed to be going to the beach!”

It’s “I Have a Dream” weekend 2013 and LivingSocial has once again selected our destination!  After Paris and Amsterdam we had been longing for a warm weather getaway and doing some research on Turks & Caicos.  But it was the LivingSocial deal for the Ice Hotel in Quebec City that caught our eye.  So rather than lounging in the Caribbean sea, we found ourselves chilling in the hot tub in -24C!  Yikes!

But true to form IHAD2013 was an experience for the books (for my new followers, my friends and I take off each year for the Martin Luther King holiday for our “I Have a Dream” getaway – we visit a place where we haven’t been or long to go back to and jumpstart the new year with an adventure).  I’ll tell you more about the “Hotel de Glace” in my next post but, as usual, we landed and hit the ground running.

We made an impression immediately.  The four of us each stood before one of the four immigration officers at the airport who all asked us where we would be staying in Quebec.  When we told them the Ice Hotel, without exception they all responded, “That will be cold”.  You know you’re in trouble when even the locals raise their eyebrows.  The trouble continued as the taxi drivers stood perplexed wondering how to get all four of us and our suitcases into one small sedan.  It was never clear why the mini-van a few vehicles back was not available to us.  As we left the airport looking like a bunch of clowns, we learned that the Ice Hotel is actually located on the site of the old zoo.  So actually, we were staying in the zoo, which seemed appropriate.

After checking into the hotel and assessing the lay of the snow, we were glad that we had made a dinner reservation at a nice warm restaurant in Old Quebec!  Panache is located in the old port area and actually situated in an old riverside warehouse.  The restaurant décor is built around the structure rather than vice versa.  That means the old stone walls are proudly exposed and the tables are fit in around the lofty wooden beams and the staircase that leads to a second level of the restaurant.  Honestly, we would have been happy with just a nice fireplace and a full bodied red to warm our bellies.  What we got was one of the most exceptional dinners any of us had ever had (and yes, in case you’re wondering, I have been to Per Se).

Throughout the Quebecois province, the food is very local.  They are proud of their gaming and fishing history and put what they call a “quebecois” twist on all their dishes.  At Panache that meant pine needles with the Nova Scotia lobster and a blueberry glaze on the Saint Apollinaire duckling.  They are not looking to follow the latest trend, they celebrate their region’s traditions.

I’m sure when we sat down the waiter was expecting this table of four professional women to be high maintenance – sharing entrees, splitting the bill, etc.  What he got was cocktails before the meal, a bottle of red and a bottle of white since we had ordered practically one of everything on the menu and needed both for appropriate pairings, ice wine for dessert along with a brilliant negotiation to purchase four of the custom Panache wine glasses (which, by the way, are not for sale).  I think ultimately they really just took pity on us for the fact that we were soon to be heading back to the Ice Hotel to freeze our tooshes off all evening.  No one missed an opportunity to remind us that it was the coldest night of the year so far!

We finally pulled ourselves away from our warm, cozy table and the four of us, with our four wine glasses, headed back to the Hotel de Glace.

The adventure will continue in the next post!