Giant Chai Bowls, Deconstructed Desserts, and PB Hot Chocolate!

Hello! I was really tempted to start this post with ‘Chai there’, but… I resisted. Well, without further ado (this is such a weird word), I visited Three Monkeys Cafe yesterday. It’s described as the most atmospheric cafe in the city, and boasts the biggest mug bowl of chai.

According to The Urban List: “Where else can you get a tureen of chai at 9.30pm on a Wednesday night? When it comes to serving sizes, Three Monkeys knows what’s up. Their yawning bowls of chai have garnered such a rep that a recent stigma has developed towards anyone hoping to ‘nip in for a small one’. To be fair, Three Monkeys’ largest vessel is probably more than most people can handle, but chai addiction is as real as it is harmless and I’ve never known a fiend to hold back when that flagrant spice display hits the table.”

It was delicious, and a perfect serving size for me because I can never get enough chai. It came with a single packet of honey, which was perfect, but I think two packets would’ve made my sweet tooth even happier. Next time, I’ll come back for some of the cakes – I was bewildered by the number of cheesecakes, tiramisus (is this how you pluralize it?), mud cakes, and more. It was amazing. I’m actually very tempted to stand up, get dressed, and leave my house right now to go back to Three Monkeys.

After I spiced up my life with the chai (pun stolen from the Urban List), I went to Botanica! I talked about this place in my last blog post, so you all know already how much I love this place. Gluten-free treats, a massive variety of vegan salads, incredible quiche – everything made with fresh ingredients. If this place was any closer to my home, I’d be bankrupt.

I went for a walk yesterday to Brisbane’s awesome West End! When I leave Australia, I will really miss the beautiful river walks and early sunsets.

The river walk and the Go Between Bridge took me to the Boundary Street Markets! The markets run every Friday and Saturday evening, from 4:00 to 10:00 pm. There were about eight to ten stalls, all selling unique ethnic eats. Ones that stood out to me include a Malaysian satay vendor, an Italian waffle ice cream vendor, Dutch miniature pancakes, Korean barbecue, and Nepalese momos (steamed dumplings). I had dinner plans, so unfortunately I didn’t get to grab any of the treats.

Some funny things – a tweet I saw and a street sign that someone improved. 😉

On Monday morning, I felt like going for a nice walk. Since it’s getting cooler in Brisbane, to a much more comfortable weather, I love going for refreshing, sunny morning walks. One morning, I headed straight ti John Mills Himself, a trip I’d been looking forward to for so long. Finally, finally, I got my hot chocolate! They offered hot chocolate in every flavour imaginable, and you can choose between two levels of chocolatey-ness: milk chocolate or dark chocolate (70%). The lady behind the counter informed me that while the milk chocolate is sweeter, the dark chocolate is richer. Then, you add a shot of flavour! These are some of the flavours I remember:

  • lemongrass
  • bergamot (the citrus from earl grey tea)
  • chai
  • peanut butter
  • peppermint
  • lavender
  • rose petals
  • and about four or five more… that I can’t remember! But don’t worry, I’ll be back to double check 😉

I originally came for the lavender, but was so tempted by the peppermint – and ended up choosing peanut butter. If I see peanut butter, anywhere on a menu, I need it! Next time, I want to try the peppermint or the lavender, though I’m sure the chai would taste wonderful with hot chocolate as well. In the end, my 70% chocolate peanut butter hot chocolate was topped with a heap of chocolate shavings, freshly-cracked sea salt, and… it was divine. Honestly. From heaven.

Also, love the double-walled (is that what you call it?) cup.

Today, I felt… celebratory? For no reason. Why not? I celebrated my Tuesday morning by visiting the Gunshop Cafe, where I had a spectacular and memorable brunch. I’ve always loved the West End, an area of Brisbane which is known for hundreds of trendy and hip cafes and restaurants, but I hardly ever go there. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know why.

Well, I went! I finally went!

Thanks to this incredible picture on Instagram posted by the Gunshop Cafe, showing their famous gnocchi with blue cheese sauce and mushrooms. Doesn’t that look amazing?

I went for brunch, so the gnocchi wasn’t an option, but I was exhilarated to order the raisin and walnut toast, which was topped with – get this! – grilled camembert cheese, sautéed mushrooms, crispy sage, and red onion jam. Is this real life?

For dessert, the deconstructed carrot cake was calling my name. This came with a parsnip puree and a scoop of nutmeg gelato, garnished with carrot-coconut chips and walnut crumble. Even better, the carrot cake itself was warm! One of the dreamiest desserts I’ve enjoyed in a long time. It was also such a photogenic dish that I took a million photographs, and had a hard time narrowing it down to three images.

Some other little bits and pieces:

  • I had a chai latte from Merlo’s Coffee (on campus) this morning. Merlo’s, to me, is the Aussie version of Starbucks – they sell breakfast goods, plenty of drinks, and have snacks to-go. Their chai latte was mediocre: not hot enough, overly sweet, overpoweringly milky. I’m 99% sure that it was made with chai syrup rather than real spices (in other words, the chai latte didn’t even have tea in it). Thankfully, I got it for free because everyone who signs up for a Merlo’s card gets two free drinks!
  • I have the most serious internal debates when I’m trying to figure out which restaurant or cafe I want to go to!
  • In the suburb that I live, it’s so easy to go to the “busy part” of Brisbane, or the “downtown” area, by walking! It’s not a long walk, and there are plenty of water fountains, benches, flowers, and areas to rest along the way.

On Saturday evening, I had tickets to see a spectacular one-woman show called Invisible Things. Before the show, I chatted with some friends from aerials, and they recommended a different show to me. Kelsey and I share a lot of mutual friends, though I haven’t met her in person before, and I’ll probably pick up tickets for her one-woman show as well.

Invisible Things was created by Alex, who coached my old aerial straps instructor, Ben, and his partner, Maddy. Alex’s show was described by reviewers as an “emotionally-charged performance [that] journeys to an intimate inner world. In the show, Alex fuses dance, theatre, and circus arts.

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According to the site, Alex designed the show to reflect on nearly two decades of her personal journals, where she battles with her identity, and the dark voices in her head. I’ve never met Alex personally, but I have heard incredible things about her athleticism and creativity. All my friends who saw the show before me told me about how the powerful storytelling and gorgeous hand balancing made up an amazing show. They were right! This was super cool. I was amazed by how one woman, without even using words, could captivate an audience for 45 minutes.

That’s all! I’m not sure if I have anything else to share with you guys today, so I suppose I will leave it at that. Wishing you all a wonderful last week of May!

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Seline’s first ice cream of 2018!

Bites of Life and Things I’ve Been Loving!

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Good morning!

I really wish I had something interesting and thought-provoking to share with you this lovely Monday morning, but I really don’t.

It’s almost winter here in Australia, and the weather is getting noticeably cooler. Fortunately, I can still wear shorts and a t-shirt since we are around the mid-twenties for most of the day. This is my favourite kind of weather – warm and sunny, but not overwhelmingly hot. It’s such a comfortable temperature that I wish it could stay like this year-round.

On Mother’s Day, I had a lovely brunch with my landlords (husband and wife) and her daughter (my housemate). We savoured brunch at a cafe called Café 63 in New Farm. Their menu was very extensive, they had quick service, and it was great to sit out in the patio. I ordered the mashed avocado, multigrain toast, two poached eggs, and smoked salmon. I haven’t had avocado toast in quite a while, so this was incredible. The black pepper and lime juice took the flavours to the next level.

I’ve been neglecting my blog a little bit with only two posts in the last three weeks. It’s because my schoolwork is getting busier. Final exams begin at the start of June, so many of my exams are less than a month away. When I have a lot to do, I genuinely enjoy making to-do lists – the longer the better! – and feel so much satisfaction checking off the tasks.

I haven’t been taking many pictures of my food, mostly because I feel like I eat the same thing every day. It’s always a combination of store-bought salad from Botanica Real Food (check out their Instagram, seriously), alongside some homemade quiche or omelet, and sometimes fried halloumi or bread from the farmer’s market.

Broke my record for steps! In contrast to… sitting on my butt for hours at a time to study.

I love Brisbane! At night it becomes such a colourful, vibrant place when all the bridges light up and illuminate the water. I learned yesterday that swimming and rowing in the Brisbane River is highly advised against, because there are bull sharks in here!

After my term in Australia, then July and August, I will be moving back to Waterloo, this time with my sister! Seline was accepted into the University of Waterloo, so we are very excited about being able to live together. I’ve been choosing my courses, and we have been working together to find a nice and affordable place at a convenient location in Waterloo.

Now, for something completely unrelated to school and housing:

Here’s a list of my favourite side dish salad combinations, inspired by Botanica!

  • potato, peas, dill ⭐FAV
  • brown rice, squash
  • pumpkin with seeds and cumin hummus dressing
  • Israeli couscous with spinach, red onion, sweet potato, pesto dressing ⭐FAV
  • roasted cauliflower with dates and parsley ⭐FAV
  • shredded beet with orange and goat cheese, mint
  • purple cabbage with mayo
  • chickpea, spinach, carrot with creamy curry dressing
  • broccoli slaw with dried cranberries
  • carrot and quinoa
  • currant, quinoa, green/brown lentil, red onion, parsley, sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds, cabbage
  • roasted potato with capers, dill

My sister asked me for a list of foods rich in B12. Here you go, S!

Food sources of vitamin B12

Meat-based Vitamin B12-Rich Foods

  • fish
  • milk
  • red meat
  • eggs
  • fish (trout, salmon)
  • crab
  • cheese
  • chicken
  • oysters and clams
  • yogurt

Vegan Vitamin B12-Rich Foods

  • almonds
  • soy milk
  • carrots
  • papayas
  • squash
  • sweet potato
  • peppers
  • mangoes
  • avocado
  • melon
  • peaches
  • apricots

Now, for a little note on things that I’ve been loving recently:

  1. Cirque Physio, a website by physiotherapist and circus artist Dr. Jen Crane. She provides all kinds of excellent tips and tricks (that I get on FB!) about recovery, injury prevention, and healthy habits – all targeting aerialists and acrobats.
  2. Along those lines, I downloaded The Artist Athlete Podcast by Shannon McKenna. I’ve never been a big fan of podcasts, but her podcast has featured interviews and conversations with high-level performers, occupational therapists, riggers, and a variety of artists. Her voice is so easy to listen to, and she brings up some excellent points. One of my favourite episodes was one from May 7, where she spoke with Anton Belyakov, a professional hand balancer born into a circus family.

That’s pretty much all I have for today, but I’m going to some great cafes today and tomorrow, and an awesome show that I’m very excited about. Have a great day!

Lately: A Lotta Brunch!

Good morning! Today is Monday, May 7 – Labour Day in Australia. Since it’s a university holiday, I don’t have classes today. Normally I have two classes and a tutorial on Mondays, which would go from noon to around 5:00. So, I’m glad that the entire day is mine to relax, catch up, and sit at home. It also happens to be rainy today, so I’m glad that I don’t have to catch the bus or walk to school with an umbrella.

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Spamming my sister with comments about the book – I want her to read it so badly!

Over the weekend, I went to Dymocks, the Australian version of Coles/Chapters/Indigo/Barnes&Noble. It’s a lovely bookstore in the heart of the city, and I picked up a book called Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein. I was immediately captivated by the synopsis, which I’ll paste below. I thought I’d flip through the beginning of the book, and it was so fascinating that I sat on the ground and read it until a bookstore employee told me to go sit in the back. So I did… and devoured the whole book!

I don’t have enough good things to say about it. I’ve always been a fan of psychological thrillers that are more creepy than gory, diverse characters, lots of action, suspense, and plot twists. This one checked all the boxes, and I would highly recommend it. Truly a remarkable novel – I can’t believe it’s her debut – that I’m probably going to purchase next time I go to Dymocks. Since it’s an Australian book (author is currently in Melbourne, and note the spelling of words like ‘traumatised’ and ‘realises’ below), I doubt I’ll be able to find it in Canada later on.

Here’s the summary, which I pasted from Goodreads. Interesting in a haunting, thought-provoking way, right?!

We don’t pick and choose what to be afraid of. Our fears pick us.

Tash Carmody has been traumatised since childhood, when she witnessed her gruesome imaginary friend Sparrow lure young Mallory Fisher away from a carnival. At the time nobody believed Tash, and she has since come to accept that Sparrow wasn’t real. Now fifteen and mute, Mallory’s never spoken about the week she went missing.

As disturbing memories resurface, Tash starts to see Sparrow again. And she realises Mallory is the key to unlocking the truth about a dark secret connecting them. Does Sparrow exist after all? Or is Tash more dangerous to others than she thinks?

I need to recommend it one more time – if you’re a reluctant reader who loves action and intense scenes/dialogue, this book is the way to go. Check out the author’s website, too! It’s beautifully-designed.

Speaking of books, my sister is rereading the Red Queen series. She’s jotting down all the new-to-her vocab words to define and incorporate into her vocabulary. This will be super helpful for her English provincial exam, which is coming up. Go Seline!

Switching gears…

Brunch with my friend, Grace! Grace and I travelled to Byron Bay for a weekend getaway together, and we reunited at She Bangs Coffee for a lovely brunch. I had the Italian smoked salmon with poached eggs on a beet puree, with dill cream cheese. The eggs were poached perfectly, and I loved all the sharp, tangy flavours from the red onions to the fresh cucumber. The salmon, however, was a little too salty for my taste. I loved the chai latte that I enjoyed before the meal, which was heavily vanilla-scented.

Afterwards, I headed up to the Albion Peace Centre for Brisbane’s Urban Yogi Retreat! Yes, after a very long time of not doing yoga… I did yoga. The event, which I discovered on Facebook, was promoted as “the perfect time out – stress, anxiety and worry melt away and leave you feeling uplifted and rejuvenated and ready to face the world again in just a few hours”. The retreat was suitable for all levels of experience, from the first timer to the seasoned yoga practitioner.

The program was from 11:00 to 3:00, and during that time, we did the following activities.

  • Pranayama: yoga breathing
  • Yoga asana (posture) class
  • Plant-based cooking class, where we learned to make tahini rice balls
  • Plant-based lunch of tofu, cucumber, red peppers, Thai noodles, and soy dressing, plus two spring rolls
  • Introduction to meditation class, with chanting (yoga chanting meditation is called Kirtan)
  • A discussion about yoga philosophy and yoga wisdom
  • Yoga nidra (yogic “sleep”, for full-body relaxation)
  • Tea and the best peanut butter brownies I’ve ever eaten! I asked Yasmin for the recipe, and can’t wait to make them myself.

The food was simply amazing, and the people were so kind. One of my favourite parts of the day was sitting in the grass outside the Albion Peace Centre, barefoot, with the sunshine streaming through the leaves of the trees above us. The four hours went by quickly, and I left feeling emotionally cleansed and ready to get back to schoolwork.

Another day, I had a remarkable brunch by myself. I started with the large chai latte at Corner Store Cafe before diving into this polenta and jalapeño waffle topped with creamed corn, sour cream, poached eggs, and smoked salmon. I’d eyed this on the menu for ages, and it certainly lived up to expectations. Delicious!

Since I had aerial silks practice yesterday, I had an energizing breakfast at home. I had half of a quiche made with pumpkin, spinach, and parmesan, some yogurt topped with cinnamon, and the bottom of a pistachio-raspberry muffin.

After practice, I walked around the area and found a place called Little Loco Cafe. I’ve always wanted to try their – you guessed it – chai latte, so I stopped in for a sip. This was great!

Meanwhile in Canada, Mom was cooking dinner. She made mussels with spaghetti in a spicy basil tomato sauce, topped with parmesan cheese. Her cooking is always so inventive and tasty-looking.

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I asked Seline the same question, and she picked American, Japanese, Vietnamese, Greek and Italian.

That afternoon, I also did a survey for the University of Waterloo’s Food Services. This was one of the questions. How, how on Earth, am I supposed to choose only five of my favourite? Only five cuisines?! I ended up choosing French, Indian, Japanese, Lebanese, and Thai. French because I genuinely love the quality/freshness and richness of French cooking, Japanese for the incredible seafood, Lebanese because I’m a huge fan of garlic, onions, eggplant, and saffron, Indian for and Thai because

If you had to pick five, what would you select?

Last but not least, this is a restaurant that I really want to go to! My Brisbane list of cafes and restaurants continues to grow and grow. If you were to order from this menu by Merriweather Cafe, what would you select?

I would probably get the freshly-baked sourdough topped with avocado, poached eggs, beet hummus, dukkah, and add smoked salmon and halloumi to it. Or – how delicious does a free-range eggs benny with truffle hollandaise sound?! From the brunch menu, the quinoa fritter on a brioche burger looks awesome! I would also order a hot chocolate, a chai latte, or their banana, honey, cacao smoothie (and add peanut butter).

Last but not least, podcasts! I’ve downloaded the bolded ones and have listened to a few. It’s a little daunting to have so much information at my fingertips.

Pre-med Podcasts

  • The Premed Years *
  • PreMedLife
  • Accepted
  • The MCAT Podcast
  • MedStud Memoirs
  • Dear Premed *
  • Academic Medicine Podcast
  • Medical School HQ
  • Pritzker Podcast
  • Sawbones
  • Quackiest
  • Andrea Tooley
  • Kevin MD
  • Medical School Admissions Doctor
  • Get into Medical School
  • Skeptics Guide to the Universe
  • Skeptoid
  • Audio Osmosis
  • The Short Coat Podcast
  • OldPreMeds Podcast
  • Tailing Admissions and Med Student Life

That’s pretty much it, for today. Hope you all have a lovely rest of the week.

The Longest Essay I’ve Ever Written

Good morning! I hope you had a fantastic weekend and feel rejuvenated for the week ahead.

I had a wonderful weekend, full of aerials, where I started working on something new (to me) – a splits balance. The studio that I train at on the weekend, Vulcana, is beautiful and home to some very kind souls.

Last night, my housemate Jessica very generously donated some backpacks to me! I adore backpacks of all shapes and colours and sizes, and was so thrilled to get some new ones. My old grey one is pretty boring, and I’ve used it for over two years, so I’m excited to start using these new-to-me treasures.

Also in my life recently:

  • using my Staedler pens to write notes all the time – they make my notes so colourful and enticing. I almost want to study when these pens are hanging out on my desk.
  • thinking about starting up running! I love walking, but it isn’t a ‘challenge’ any more. Would be fun to do a bit of running before the weather gets too cool.
  • map of Brisbane and all the suburbs! My favourite suburbs are Fortitude Valley and New Farm, which is where my aerials training studios are – and home to my favourite farmers markets!
  • giant mosquito. Whoa.
  • it’s been a while since I’ve had a good old smoothie! This one was made with banana, chocolate, almond milk, and cinnamon. It was delicious on a hot day, before I ordered a lovely brunch dish of cabbage pancake topped with goat cheese, poached egg, roasted broccoli, and parmesan (unpictured).

This is the Brisbane City botanical garden. It was my first time visiting this particular botanical garden – I’ve been to two others in the area. Although this didn’t have as much plantlife as the other two, I enjoyed the lush green grass and simple ponds.

On a different note, my shoes are finally comfortable! I had some issues with my toe, and after wearing comfortable (read: ugly) shoes for a few months, giving my toe time to heal, I can finally wear my slightly-less-comfortable (but much cuter) shoes. I love this pair and glad that I’m able to walk around in them, completely pain-free!

I saw this online and it really got me thinking. What do I want to do in the future – and is it something I love? Will it be something I’m good at? Is it something the world needs? I’m going to keep thinking about this, and perhaps one day, pen in some of my career choices and see which ones fall into the centre.

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This was the longest essay I’ve written in my life! It is a research essay about kidney disease in Queensland, and potential health-enhancing behaviours that may improve the mortality/morbidity of chronic kidney disease. It took me a little over a month to complete, so I was very satisfied to finally submit it last week.

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Essays were also involved in my biology class. We worked in groups of six, and I thought we did a fantastic job together. I was super pleased with how our report turned out, and how we collaborated.

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Finally, a lovely salad with some vegetable tarts. One tart is broccoli-parmesan, the other mushroom and pesto. I loved both, especially with this glorious colourful salad.

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Last but not least, I finished my box of chai – which means I had 25 chai tea bags in less than a month. Definitely obsessed with that stuff. It’s just perfect with milk and honey.

Of course, I had to make a list of chai to try (I’m sure there’s some pun I can make with this). I hope I can find some of these here in Brisbane!

Must-Try Chai

  • Samovar Masala Chai Black
  • Prana Chai Masala Blend
  • Dona Chai Chai Tea Concentrate
  • Chai Wallahs of Maine Spiced Chai with Assam Black Tea
  • Firepot Nomadic Teas Masala Chai Loose Leaf
  • Bollywood Theater Masala Chai
  • Tipu’s Original Slow Brew Indian Chai
  • Rainbow Chai Spice Mix
  • Pukka Vanilla Chai
  • Madura Seven Spice Chai
  • Nerada Organics Chai
  • Chai Walli chai
  • Gopi Chai
  • Teapigs Chai
  • Twinings Chai Ultra Spice
  • Tazo Chai
  • Organic India Chai Masala

That’s it for today – wishing you a lovely rest of the week.

Bucket List | Charlottetown, PEI

93424f31-7d6d-4e9a-9380-d144ad192015This summer, my sister and I will be living in Charlottetown, the largest city of Prince Edward Island, an eastern Canadian province.

We’re super excited about spending the month of July on a new adventure (I’ve never been to the Maritimes!), and, as usual, had to make a list of must-see tourist attractions and must-eat places. Here it is!

Charlottetown Activities

EVERYTHING: http://www.discovercharlottetown.com/en/see-do.php

  • 12 activities, 35 days = 1 activity every 2-3 days
  • **** Victoria Row
  • *** Confederation Centre of the Arts
  • *** St. Dunstan’s Basilica
  • ** Prince Edward Battery
  • ** Province House National Historic Site of Canada (birthplace of Canada)
  • ** Victoria Park
  • ** Beaconsfield Historic House
  • ** Government House
  • * The Great George (hotel with historic antique furnishings)
  • * Confederation Landing Park
  • * Charlottetown Farmers Market
  • * Harbour Hippo cruiseGreen_GablesThe famed Green Gables, from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  • Sir Andrew MacPhail homestead
  • Peake’s Wharf
  • Fanningbank
  • PEI National Park
  • Avonlea Village
  • Shining Waters
  • The Mack Theatre
  • Orwell Corner Historic Village
  • St. Peter’s Anglican Cathedral
  • Larimer Gallery
  • Founders’ Hall
  • Port-la-Joye (and Blockhouse Point Lighthouse)
  • The Prince Edward Island Regiment Military Museum
  • The Prince Edward Island Heritage Museum
  • The Alley (bowling)
  • Top Notch Lobster Tours
  • Stanhope Beach
  • Cape Tyron
  • Point Prim Lighthouse

Farther Away

  • * The Pearl Eatery and Oyster Lounge
  • New Glasgow
  • North Rustico
  • PEI Preserve Co
  • Confederation Bridge to Green Gables

 

Specialty Shops

  • * Anne of Green Gables Store
  • Anne of Green Gables Chocolates
  • Seaglassing
  • Balderson’s Farm Market
  • The Dunes Studio Gallery and Cafe
  • Green Eye Designs
  • Moonsnail Soapworts
  • Details Past and Present
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Prince Edward Island is known for incredible seafood, especially lobster, and potatoes.

Charlottetown Restaurants

  • TOP 20 RESTAURANTS BOLDED
  • 20 restaurants in 35 days = 1 restaurant every 1-2 days
  • ***** Sims Corner Steakhouse and Oyster Bar
  • *** Claddagh Oyster House
  • *** Lucy Maud Dining Room: The Culinary Institute of Canada Dining
  • *** The Chip Shack
  • *** The Gahan House
  • ** Dave’s Lobster
  • ** Leonhard’s Cafe and Restaurant
  • ** Hopyard
  • * Papa Joe’s
  • * Olde Dublin Pub
  • * The Pilot House
  • * Cedar’s Eatery
  • * Brickhouse Kitchen and Bar
  • * Brakish
  • * Local 343
  • * The Merchantman
  • * Redwater Rustic Grille
  • * Row House Lobster Co.
  • Himalayan Indian Cuisine
  • Splendid Essence
  • Fishies on the Roof
  • BOOMBurger
  • Doiron’s Fisheries
  • The Olde Village Bakery
  • Hunter’s Ale House
  • Fishbones on Victoria Row
  • Pho Hung
  • Terry’s Berries
  • The Big Orange Lunchbox
  • Buono Mangia
  • Inn at Bay Fortune
  • Rick’s Fish and Chips
  • Blue Mussel Cafe
  • Point Prim Chowder House
  • Gouda Cheese Lady
  • Churchill Arms
  • Glasgow Glen Farms
  • Richard’s Fresh Seafood
  • Piatto Pizzeria and Enoteca
  • The Churchill Arms
  • John Brown Grille

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Charlottetown Cafes

  • **** Receiver Coffee Co
  • *** Cows Creamery
  • Lady Baker’s Tea Trolley
  • Beanz Espresso Bar
  • Small Print Board Game Cafe

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A Food-Filled Weekend Getaway

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I train at C!RCA in Brisbane, which is located on the third floor of a contemporary arts and dance centre. It is a beautiful place, and I’m so honoured to train in the same space as world-famous acrobats.

Good morning! Hope you are all having a spectacular week so far.

 

It is now Tuesday, and I spent the morning in class, then meal-prepping. I made a massive, hearty vegetable stir-fry, and ate it with some random protein from the fridge (a cheesy omelet and falafel). Now, for some blogging before I start studying.

Last night, I went to aerials as usual. I’m currently working on a post for my Schulich Foundation media page on my journey with aerial straps.

But more importantly:

my friend and I spent the weekend at Byron Bay!

I mentioned this on a previous post, but my friend – Grace – and I planned a weekend getaway to Byron Bay, which is approximately two and a half hours from Brisbane. On Friday morning, I enjoyed a delicious homemade chai latte, some yogurt with nuts and banana bread, then packed up my backpack and a gym bag. Next, I cleaned up my room and the bathroom. I love coming home from a trip to a clean, cozy place.

Before I knew it, we were on the shuttle bus on our way to Byron!

Our hostel was the Byron Bay Beach Hostel, which was located conveniently in the city centre. We were fortunate to receive a free upgrade, and ended up with our own bathroom and a queen bed (as opposed to two twin beds and a shared bathroom for the entire floor).

This was my first time staying at a real hostel, and I was very pleasantly surprised. 🙂

After dropping off our things, we headed for lunch at Balcony, an oyster bar. I ordered the three-cheese crab mac and cheese, which was topped with garlicky breadcrumbs and plenty of hearty crab. I loved this meal! You guys know that I love anything served on a sizzling skillet. Our lunch was almost as good as our conversation. Grace is super easy to talk to!

After that, we spent Friday afternoon at Main Beach.

That night, there were two minor disappointments:

  1. There was a major power outage that hit Byron Bay just as we were leaving our dinner restaurant. We ended up walking home in the dark, without streetlights, and sitting around in the hostel without electricity. That night, fortunately, the power came back – and you could hear the cheers of everyone out on the beach town.
  2. Our snorkelling tour was cancelled due to the windy conditions. The water would be too choppy for snorkelling. I was so sad about this! Y’all know from my bucket list that I’ve always, always wanted to go snorkelling or scuba diving.

On the bright side, dinner was exquisite. We went to Treehouse, a twenty-five minute walk from the hostel. The venue was stylized to look like a treehouse, and musicians were performing live music. The atmosphere was truly unique, and I was elated to have had the opportunity to try their renowned pizza. The caramelized onions on top were my favourite part! Dessert, similarly, was divine – definitely one of the Top Five desserts I’ve ever eaten in my life.

  • 1/2 thin-crust pizza with béchamel sauce, garlic, caramelized onions, portobello mushrooms, basil, brie
  • 1/2 caprese salad with tomatoes, basil, mozzarella
  • sticky date pudding topped with chocolate chunks, with homemade vanilla gelato

 

The next day was Saturday, and we were up early for kayaking. Our river kayaking trip was led by two experienced kayakers and nature lovers, who came to pick us up from the Byron Bay visitor centre (close to the hostel). We spent the morning on the water, watching the sun rise, and enjoying the company of Aussie wildlife. I particularly liked learning about the Aboriginal history of this region. It was also refreshing to meet other travellers: a pair from the UK, a group of friends from Sydney, and a new-to-Byron couple.

Thanks to all the excitement of kayaking, my stomach wanted some food! Fortunately, we stopped at a cafe, where we were treated to drinks. I ordered a chai latte (deliciously peppery, made with milk and honey) before we headed back to the city.

For brunch, Grace and I hit up Bayleaf Cafe, a consistent and well-known breakfast/lunch place. They are famous for their meals, which straddle the line between breakfast and lunch.

  • 1/2 mango, banana, berry, acai, coconut cream smoothie
  • sweet potato flatbread topped with kale, roasted beets and carrots, cauliflower puree, 2 garlic fried eggs

Is it breakfast? Is it lunch? Mysteries.

Since our snorkelling trip was cancelled, we had plenty of time to explore. We walked to a number of places, including Tallows Beach, Captain Cook’s Lookout, Fisherman’s Lookout, and more. It was absolutely mesmerizing to watch the crystal-blue waves crash into the rocks, and see the ant-sized surfers ride the waves below. I could’ve stayed here for ages, enjoying the sunshine and warm breeze.

Also, I’m grateful for the selfie stick that Dad bought for me before I came to Australia! It might’ve looked silly, but it sure came in handy.

Next up, we walked over to the lighthouse. The lighthouse of Byron Bay is an absolute must-visit – you can’t come to Byron without walking over to the lighthouse. The lighthouse trail led us to a secluded beach called Little Watego’s Beach, and we also stood at the most easterly point of Australian mainland. That was awesome! And probably the closest I will be to my family for the next few months. :’)

I. Love. Sunsets.

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Another afternoon, another disappointment! I got a phone call that night (and an email shortly after) – our hot air ballooning trip was also cancelled. I was devastated about this, because, well… who doesn’t want to go on a hot air balloon?!

Luckily, we got the refund, but I’d rather be floating over Australia. Funny enough, this is the third time that I’ve planned to go on a hot air balloon. Once in Nepal, again in Cambodia, and now. All three times, it’s been cancelled due to inappropriate weather conditions. Is the universe telling me something?!

Dinner, however, was NOT a disappointment! In fact, it was the dead opposite of a disappointment. It was glorious. I made the reservation for St. Elmo’s Bar and Restaurant, which is known for Spanish tapas.

Grace and I shared the following.

  • seared scallops, charred leek and preserved lemon puree, romesco sauce, migas (I’m a big fan of scallops and loved the flavours, textures, and presentation of this dish.)
  • fried potatoes, salsa brava, garlic aioli, smoked paprika salt (had I been dining alone, I would’ve never ordered the potatoes. I’m glad we did, however, because they were hands-down some of the best potatoes I’ve ever tasted. Flavourful but not salty, these slightly-spicy, garlicky, rich potatoes were unforgettable.)
  • seared local cuttlefish, kipfler potato, olives, orange, mint, smoked paprika, saffron aioli (not a calamari fan, but these were quite soft and tender.)
  • slow-cooked lamb, butter-braised asparagus, homemade Greek yogurt sauce, pistachio dukkah (I haven’t had lamb for ages, but this melt-in-your-mouth dish tasted amazing with St. Elmo’s homemade labneh and contrasted with the crunchy pistachios.)

Finally, dessert:

  • hazelnut chocolate custard tart, vanilla crema catalan sauce, strawberry mousse, crispy hazelnut praline (ate this myself and loved each bite. Would 100% recommend, and order again!)

Before we knew it, it was already time to head back to Brisbane. We slept in (had three and a half hours of sleep the night before!) and had a lazy walk around the shops before settling on Dip Cafe for brunch.

I made quite a few substitutions on the Big Vegetarian Breakfast for an incredible customized brekkie. The smoked salmon was unbelievably tender, and the roast pumpkin extra flavourful. I also loved the creamy ricotta on organic sourdough toast, which was sprinkled with a generous amount of pecans and honey.

  • 1 chai tea latte with milk and honey (the best yet!)
  • 1 large breakfast plate with 3 (?) scrambled eggs, 2 pieces halloumi, smoked salmon, 2 pieces organic sourdough topped with ricotta, pecans, and honey, spiced baked beans, arugula with tomato salsa, roast pumpkins and roast tomatoes with wilted spinach
  • 1 scoop Nutella and peanut butter gelato (unpictured)

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Time to head back home! I fell asleep on the bus on the way back to Brisbane. Despite being the Commonwealth Games, our shuttle bus made it back on schedule.

Before coming to Australia, I never followed the Commonwealth Games. I don’t watch all the events, but follow my favourite athletes, including female Canadian artistic gymnasts. I was thrilled to find out about Daley and Goodfellow’s Commonwealth gold. With his outspoken nature, particularly towards athletic diversity and LGBT+ rights, Tom Daley is easily one of my favourite athletes.

Last night, I headed to a restaurant for dinner since I didn’t want to cook. I finally got to check Mu’ooz off of my restaurant bucket list. Mu’ooz is an Eritrean restaurant and social enterprise. As you may know, I adore supporting restaurants and spas with a good cause. I think it’s essential to support people by providing skills, rather than money – it’s more sustainable.

👆 I could write a dissertation on this.

Anyways! I devoured this meal, which was so spicy that I cried (I’m the world’s biggest spice wimp). The dessert was memorable: crispy freshly-fried Ethiopian donuts made with soy milk, flour, and sugar, with a hint of orange, topped with vanilla ice cream. More ice cream would’ve made this even better, but I was full and satisfied. 🙂

  • spicy Eritrean mushroom and red/green bell pepper stew, 2 large pieces sourdough injera, mixed green salad
  • 4 crispy African donuts, 1 scoop vanilla ice cream

I wish you a delicious rest of the week!