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Winter at your own pace with Marilou

Everybody adores Marilou. We love her modern entrepreneurial vision, her taste for beautiful things, and her gift for making a simple tomato sauce a real work of art. We also love her sense of humour and big smile that’s both sweet and contagious. But what we love above all else is her authenticity, the way she shares a little bit of real life through the always pretty and invariably exquisite content of her cookbooks, as well as on her Instagram account.

Curious to know if she liked winter, but especially if she was as nice as she seemed, we invited her to come and spend a weekend with her family at Parc national du Mont-Tremblant. Despite a very busy schedule and a thousand and one projects on the go, she agreed.

Parc national du Mont-Tremblant Parc national du Mont-Tremblant
Parc national du Mont-Tremblant Justine Marc-Aurèle | © Sépaq

Rediscovering the joys of winter

So we met with Marilou and her family in a cabin at Parc national du Mont-Tremblant in the middle of winter to discover her relationship with the cold season.

It must be said that not so long ago, Marilou preferred winter from the inside looking out. "I thought it was the perfect time to take hot baths, watch movies wrapped in a big soft blanket, and invite people to dinner. I liked to enjoy the comforts of home; I preferred to stay bundled up. But for the past few years, I’ve been rediscovering the pleasures of playing outside and I find myself loving this season more and more, knee deep in the snow. I even started alpine skiing again!” said she.

Recently I've been trying new outdoor things and it does me a world of good. It forces me out of my image-conscious creative cocoon and lets me stay grounded in the present.

Go at your own pace

According to Marilou, when it comes to learning to appreciate the cold season, there’s no miracle trick: you simply have to dress warmly, set foot outside, and above all, go at your own pace.

"To love winter, you just have to practice,” she believes. And in her opinion, discovering new activities helps us to love winter. “Go out and slide, walk in the forest, make snowmen, skate. The simplest activities are often the most fun. And heading outdoors with your loved ones is also a good way to make those winter outings even more enjoyable,” she recommends.

"Certainly with toddlers, there are challenges in winter, and I know something about them, having to deal with that reality myself. Winter means more management for parents. But because kids learn a lot by example, it's important to get them to go and play outside…and to join in the fun yourself! Tots will sometimes go out for only 10 minutes at a time. But if we respect their pace without forcing them, slowly but surely, they’ll discover the joys of playing in the snow with us.”

And if you hate winter because cold temperatures make you uncomfortable, Marilou has a good tip for you. "Get yourself the right winter gear! Keep an eye on the sales and buy a good winter coat, a quality windbreaker, and solid warm boots. But above all, learn to master the art of multilayering. My parents had been telling me that for years, but the day I took this concept seriously, I saw a big difference. In fact, it totally changed my life.”

*Everything you need to know about the multilayering technique right here.

Parc national du Mont-Tremblant
Parc national du Mont-Tremblant Justine Marc-Aurèle | © Sépaq
Parc national du Mont-Tremblant
Parc national du Mont-Tremblant Justine Marc-Aurèle | © Sépaq
Parc national du Mont-Tremblant
Parc national du Mont-Tremblant Justine Marc-Aurèle | © Sépaq
Parc national du Mont-Tremblant
Parc national du Mont-Tremblant Justine Marc-Aurèle | © Sépaq

The need to disconnect

For Marilou, it’s practically essential to get a handle on winter, especially here in Quebec where this period is spread over almost half the year. But above all, she believes that being outside, whatever the season, brings benefits that we all sorely need.

"Nature gives rise to unique emotions. A plate of carbonara is terrific and really delicious, but it will never equal what the sight of a starry sky can make us feel. In nature, we live experiences that are one of a kind.”

And according to Marilou, for those who work a good many hours a day in front of a screen, moments of disconnection are crucial.

"We live in a hyper-connected world. This is the reality of many of us who spend long hours every day in front of our emails and on social media. For my part, online exploring is an important part of my life’s work, but it's also very addictive. Stepping back for a moment allows us to regain a certain balance. Playing outside is an opportunity to disconnect, temper the intensity of our work weeks, and settle into the present moment. Not only does it feel good, but it's absolutely necessary," she believes.

Winter cocooning

In winter, after a beautiful day of playing outside, Marilou loves the feeling of having cheeks reddened by the cold. "When you return to the warmth indoors, you immediately feel a sense of well-being that emerges only on cold winter days and is so very pleasant and sweet.”

But after playing outside, Marilou confessed that she often doesn’t want to cook. "On those days, I prefer to cobble things together. I buy my favourite commercial dips and serve them with beautiful cut vegetables, for example. It's simple but convenient and always ever so tasty. Or I warm up a big hot comforting pot of soup, which I serve with good fresh bread and cheese.”

And what about her favourite dinner dish at the cabin? Definitely Chinese fondue. "It's the finest comfort food! I always opt for quality broth and homemade sauces. And I make slices of beef rolled in cheese and coriander. A guaranteed hit!”

Marilou approaches the next morning's brunch with the same frame of mind: simplicity and comfort are the keynotes. "I buy quality pastries at the bakery, fresh croissants, jams, honey, fruit. Then I spread them out on the table with coffee and hot chocolate. A feast for one and all!”

She also shares with us her favourite hot chocolate recipe, made from almond milk, which she likes to flavour with a twist of orange. To be enjoyed at breakfast or in the afternoon, after a snowball fight.

Tame winter

In the end, Marilou’s advice for taming winter is simple. You just have to go at your own pace, choose activities that you like and, above all, take advantage of these moments to spend time with your family, with your own kind. "Because finally, playing outside is a bit like good food. It's much more enjoyable with the ones we love!” she tossed off with her big laughing eyes.

And that's when we could only conclude that not only is Marilou as nice as she seems; she’s also absolutely adorable.

This interview with Marilou and her family was conducted in February 2020, before the pandemic.

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