This week, I’m off to Europe to explore the history (and wine) of Prague, Vienna and Budapest. But rather than leave the blog all by itself to collect dust, I’ve asked some of my favourite Canadian TV personalities to take over Mike’s Bloggity Blog! Check back all week to hear about some of their favourite spring break stories!

Today’s guest blogger is Top Chef Canada’s Pierre Lamielle. Everyone say hello to Pierre!

Welcome to the mile high up-chuck club.

Let’s set the stage. We are a mixed family, but we all add up to the typical man and woman with a boy and girl upgrade and a mother insurance package. This was our first 7-day family trip together… to Disneyland.

It’s hard to say who was more excited about the trip.

At the time C was 11. We packed her a whack of extra insulin for the trip so she could go crazy on the sugary junk with the rest of us.

Little D, only 9, was eager to prove himself as a Jedi and ride the big rides.

Mom had a chronic case of Disney nostalgia. The recent addition of California Adventure park made her even more frenzied and she opted to put us all up in the deluxe Grand Californian Hotel & Spa because it’s the only hotel with direct access to the park. It’s rather grand.

I was stoked on the food. Street food, junk food, character themed buffets and high end restaurants, I was ready to eat it all and run it off between rides.

Candace was just happy to be around all the fun vibes. A chance to be silly and carefree.

Timing was perfect. The kids had a different spring break than anyone in Canada or the US and we had our run of the park with very few lines.

But then it all started to unravel.

C was the first to throw up on the plane. No problem, they have bags for that. She was looking woozy but smiley so we choked it up to excitement and nerves. We got to the hotel and made our way to the park as soon as. C was dragging her feet. D nervously took his first ride on the Matterhorn Bobsleds but ended up getting scared and it took a lot of work to coax him on to anything beyond a teacup.

With all the excitement, we opted for an early night and an early wake up to beat the crowds.

The kids were being picky about the food so we ate at the family friendly Storyteller’s Café and I had a great vegetable soup with corn bread that I still crave for its simplicity.
We all piled into our adjoining rooms and dozed our Disney dreams to the friendly pop and sparkle of the nightly fireworks.

The next morning it was obvious C had a proper flu. For the next 5 days the flu travelled consecutively from C to D, to me and Mom. We were each laid out for a full day. Candace refused to admit defeat and somehow avoided a day of puking or barfing.

Our rooms quickly filled with the miasma of vomit. We moaned helplessly in our living nightmare while others lived the dream outside our window.

On the days we could manage it, the rest of us trudged with pounding headaches through the park. The lights and sounds were blindingly awful instead of bright and cheerful. It was a struggle to overcome the nausea and headaches which led to constant bickering. Universal Studios, cancelled. Legoland, cancelled.
The soup turned out to be the best thing from the trip and probably ended up saving all of our lives as we lived off it almost exclusively between bowls of soothing ice cream.
It’s now known as the Disney Disaster trip. Maybe one day when the scars have healed we can take the chance at another trip.

 Lifesaver soup

2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
3 Tbsp butter
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 Liter of Chicken or vegetable stock
1 zucchini, diced
3 sticks of celery, diced
1 cup of diced green cabbage
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Get a large pot over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter melts add the carrots, onions and garlic only. Sautée for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables get nice and caramelized.

Add the stock and the zucchini, cabbage and potato. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, add the rosemary and thyme. Cover with a lid. Simmer for 45 minutes. Pop the lid off the pot, add lemon juice, pepper and a whole whack of salt. Stir it all about and taste it. Does it taste delicious? If not, add more salt until it does… and it will.

This soup appears to be deadly simple, but if you brown your onions nicely and you season properly with the salt at the end you will have a helluva soup that tastes great and saves lives.

Serve with crackers or some homemade corn bread.

Top Chef Canada airs on Monday nights on The Food Network.

Mike Morrison