The Biggest Buffet(s). Ever.

Breakfast at Xin, a buffet on the first floor of our hotel:

  • almond croissant, bolo bao (Hong Kong style pineapple bun), coconut cocktail bun
  • you tiao (oil crullers) with shrimp and scallion rice rolls and sesame sauce
  • sago custard dumpling, vegetables, fried turnip cakes, baked beans, pumpkin glutinous rice ball with lotus cream filling, char siu bao (barbecue pork bun)
  • vegetable and cheese omelet
  • random ticket (3-day pass) from our time in Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap,

I ate all of it and it was awesome in a now-I-can’t-walk and that-was-so-worth-it way.

Macau is lovely because there is always a lot to see (shows and performances!) and do. We love wandering around the hotels, all of which have a unique theme. The Parisian and the Venetian are both beautifully adorned with European-inspired decor.

Another day, we had dinner at Yum Cha, a dim sum restaurant. We ordered some delicious food – I wasn’t expecting it to be so tasty. Along with a mug of sweet Hong Kong style milk tea, I ate:

  • shrimp siu mai
  • wok-fried beef slices with wide noodles (one of my favourite HK foods)
  • tofu rolls with mushrooms and broth
  • prawn dumplings
  • oil crullers wrapped in rice sheets, soy sauce and sesame dip
  • steamed charcoal buns filled with salted egg yolk and cheese (super unique, and loved the sweet and salty nature of the filling)

This was the centrepiece at Studio City, another nearby hotel.

These are some of my favourite photos of Grandpa. ❤

(All taken after I rode a 4D Batman Flight ride… twice. Truly felt like I developed vertigo after that experience!)

The same day, Dad and I had lunch at BRASSERIE, a lovely French restaurant. Dad had the set menu, which included a raclette cheese appetizer, a chicken Cordon Bleu with Comte cheese and French ham, and creme brûlée. My orders were à la carte – a French onion soup, Croque Madame, and creamy chocolate fondant with white cheese sorbet and vanilla cream, with fresh berries.

I love how it’s easy to go from one hotel to another, without having to walk too much outside.

One night, the three of us watched a show called the House of Dancing Water. It was a stunning show with powerful music, an easy-to-follow storyline, and spectacular special effects and stage changes. The athleticism, while not on the level of Cirque du Soleil, were very diverse and featured divers, contortionists, gymnasts, and ballerinas. The stage was incredible, as it morphed from a pool deep enough for 24-metre dives into flat land for floor acrobatics.

Another evening, dinner at Bene. I loved my creamy conglichie pasta in ricotta cheese, with cured pork loin and plenty of black truffle. I topped my plate with so much parmesan cheese after this photo. 🙂

Tiramisu for dessert. Dad and I shared one, and I asked the waiter to serve it on two plates. Dad was kind enough to give me the larger slice of tiramisu and some of his hazelnut gelato.

The following day, we had the biggest buffet breakfast. Ever. It was quite a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as we dined in Cafe 360, a rotating restaurant on the 60th floor of the Macau Tower.

Here we go! Along with a large glass of sweetened milk tea (very tasty)…

Plate 1:

  • Portuguese spinach soup
  • cheese and saffron bun

I liked tearing off chunks of the flavourful, cheesy bread and dunking it into the brothy vegetable soup.

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Plate 2:

  • naan bread, basmati rice, mango chicken vindaloo, homemade pickled lemon, spicy mint sauce
  • cheesy mushroom bread pudding
  • 2 char siu (barbecued pork) pastries
  • salmon fried rice with eel sauce
  • sago sweet dumpling with custard
  • glutinous rice in lotus leaf with chicken
  • Japanese style sautéed vegetables (cabbage, peppers, carrot, black sesame)
  • lentil dahl in small bowl on the side

Plate 3 (revisiting all of my favourites from Plate 2):

  • 2 sago sweet dumplings with custard
  • 2 char siu (barbecued pork) pastries
  • cheesy mushroom bread pudding

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Plate 4 (dessert):

  • serradura/sawdust pudding/Macau pudding (condensed milk pudding with whipped cream and crumbled Marie cookie), topped with coffee biscotti – this was my favourite part, and I’ve never had serradura before. It’s a Portuguese/HK dessert, and I loved the flavour/texture which reminded me a bit of a nutty, less-sweet, pudding-like caramel mousse.
  • Portuguese almond cake
  • hazelnut torte with raspberry jam
  • praline creme brûlée with fresh berries
  • slivered almond, cinnamon bread pudding with vanilla sauce
  • creamy apricot jam with crushed spice cookies
  • pecan pie with walnuts and whipped cream

At the end, I was so full that I could hardly walk. You know when you realize, upon standing up, that you have serious regrets about eating so much? That was me – because I wanted to do the bungee jump!

Okay, maybe I was a little really freaked out by the bungee jump. So I ended up doing the SkyWalk, in which I walked around the outside of the tower with a harness and an instructor who helped take pictures.

It was certainly not as exciting as the bungee jump, but I didn’t throw up all four plates of buffet food, like I would’ve if I did the bungee jump. So, I’d call this a success!

The view, while not comparable to the stunning beaches of Cambodia or rice fields of Nepal, was pretty cool. Everything seemed so still from up high, and the lake practically unmoving. The cars, people, and buildings were minuscule, and it almost looked like one of those decorative model cities.

What a spectacular couple of days. What’s next? Tomorrow, we will be leaving Macau to go back to Taipei, which is a one-hour flight. After a day and a half in Taiwan, we will finally be flying back to Vancouver.

Our trip has been exciting and invigorating, and full of new and unique experiences, but at the same time, I am 99% ready to go home and get back into my regular routine which includes banana oatmeal, walks with my doggie, and hanging out with my sister.

Have a great rest of the weekend!

Angkor Archaeological Park

Yesterday, I got to check off an item from my bucket list.

✓ visit Angkor Wat!

Angkor Wat is actually one of many structures in Angkor Archaeological Park, which involves many other magnificent remains. The park is in north Cambodia, about 6.5 hours from Phnom Penh, the capital. Angkor Thom and the Bayon Temple are also famous. While Angkor Wat is the grandest temple of the Angkor Archaeological Park, Angkor Thom is the ancient capital.

We woke up at 4:00 AM, hopped on a tuktuk at 4:30 AM, bought tickets, and arrived at the park by 5:30 AM for the sunrise. There was a massive rainfall, and all of us got soaked before finding cover in the blackness, but even our wet clothes and shoes didn’t distract from the overwhelming historic beauty of Angkor Wat.

Angkor Archaeological Park is over 400 square kilometres of subtropical forest, featuring the stunning remnants of the capital of the Khmer Empire of the 9th to 15th centuries. It is the largest pre-industrial city in world history. Around 25 years ago, Angkor Archaeological Park became a UNESCO World Heritage site. I felt so honoured and amazed to get a glimpse into these legendary temples.

The Angkor Archaeological Park itself has no accommodation and very few facilities (no bathrooms near the temples), so tourists stay in a nearby town called Siem Reap, which is 6 km to the south. I was surprised to find that Angkor Archaeological Park is truly located within a jungle, with monkeys, hogs, wild dogs, and centipedes (?) swarming the area.

Interesting note that I discovered with some reading: the word ‘wat’ means temple in Khmer (Cambodian language). The structure, however, doesn’t quite look like a temple. Researchers believe that it is a temple where Lord Vishnu was worshipped, and later became a tomb for the Khmer (Cambodian) king.

The remains of the Bayon Temple were my favourite. It was richly decorated, and most likely built during the 12th or 13th century for a Buddhist king.

Another structure, Ta Prohm, is famous because trees have interlaced themselves with the stonework, resulting in strange, but marvellous, beauty. One website describes Ta Prohm as “a stunning display of the embrace between nature and the human handiwork”, and I couldn’t say it better myself.

Ta Prohm is world-renowned, and immensely popular, because of the wood-stone combination, and because of various scenes in Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider. I found the sides of the Ta Prohm complex quiet and magnificent, with unstable bits of rubble and stone debris. Many sections have been blocked off, since they are at risk of collapsing.

For lunch, we dined at Sister Srey Café, which I adored.

  • Grandpa had the creamy pumpkin soup with bread to start, and then grilled mackerel with steamed jasmine rice and sauteed spinach
  • Dad enjoyed savoury stuffed French toast with cream cheese, bacon, and tomato chutney. To drink, he had two caramel milkshakes
  • I loved my corn fritters (surprisingly, both vegan and gluten-free!), topped generously with feta cheese and served with a poached egg, smoked salmon, and tomato chutney

For dessert, Grandpa had some chocolate ice cream while I enjoyed an amazing carrot cake with cream cheese icing and plenty of walnuts. This was tender, spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, and had great texture and crumb. I do wish, however, that there was more cream cheese icing.

Then, it was back to our hotel for a much-needed break from all the walking!

Tapas, Buffet, and a Seven-Course Meal

Good evening from Siem Reap on this warm Tuesday, January 9.

Recently:

  • Seline often sends me screenshots of conversations that she has with Mom. I thought this one was particularly sweet, and it made me reminisce the wonderful time we spent at Sunshine Coast during both 2015 and 2016
  • Spiders at ROMDENG, a restaurant in Phnom Penh – I chickened out 😥
  • Dad and Grandpa on a tuktuk this morning; it was in the high 30s temperature-wise

The Wat Langka temple was timelessly beautiful and impactful. We also had the opportunity to see the Independence Monument (second photo), and buy new sneakers for Grandpa from the local Adidas store, since his old ones broke on the train ride from Taipei to Taoyuan (the city in Taiwan where the airport is located).

For brunch after the temple exploration, we enjoyed another meal at Daughters of Cambodia. They are truly so lovely for their great cause (everything goes towards helping girls forced into the sex trafficking trade in Cambodia, to learn skills like cooking, massage, sewing, and more).

  • Dad had the baguette BLT, which had bacon, cucumber, spinach, and tomato with an onion chutney
  • Grandpa enjoyed corn chowder and a fish burger with fries
  • I loved my creamy parsley pumpkin soup and cheesy garlic baguette

We purchased a few things from Daughters of Cambodia; namely, some little coloured pouches with powerful words in the Khmer language such as ‘dream’, ‘pray’, and ‘believe’. Grandpa will give these to his family doctor, teacher, and dentist.

We spent the afternoon lounging around the hotel pool. Grandpa was happy with his fresh coconut water. It’s astonishing how much larger these coconuts are, compared to the ones he’s enjoyed in Macau, and even back home in Vancouver.

For dinner, we went to a restaurant called Friends, which is part of a greater company called TREE. TREE is a series of training restaurants that invest profits in students who train there. Money goes towards social programs that help them become skilled, productive, healthy and happy young workers with secure future careers. They not only provide high-quality service and food, but also help young people in developing countries (most are orphans, former street children, or other marginalized, at-risk groups) develop skills that they need to be employable in the hospitality industry. The training that runs here helps build confidence and skills, so students graduate with better futures. 10/10 for sustainability and impact, in my book.

For the tapas, Friends recommends ordering one or two per person. Since the three of us went, we decided to order five. These were some of my favourites (okay, I ended up listing them all):

  • Crispy zucchini and cheddar fritters with Thai Sriracha mayonnaise
  • Fish cakes with garlic, leeks, roasted red pepper puree (these were unbelievably good)
  • Burmese chicken curry with crispy noodles, smoked chili, pickled mustard greens (super spicy, but incredible flavour)

  • Crusty bread with EVOO and dukkah spice

  • Ricotta gnocchi with spinach and corn (I truly loved these, and my dad, who typically doesn’t like gnocchi, enjoyed them!)

For dessert:

  • white chocolate ice cream for Dad and Grandpa (I had a taste, and it had a superb white chocolate aftertaste, unlike some white chocolate ice creams which are simply excessively sweet)
  • black sticky rice pudding with coconut ice cream, caramelized pineapple, and roasted peanuts

The next day – this morning – was a little hectic because we had to clean out the hotel room and check out before a long bus ride to Siem Reap. I was a little sad to say goodbye to our lovely hotel room.

Breakfast buffet in our hotel.

I enjoyed:

  • a cheese omelet
  • two Cambodian sandwiches with ham, cucumber, and spicy mayo (I didn’t think I would like this, but I wholeheartedly enjoyed it. The bold flavours stood up to the fresh baguette, and everything seemed to work well)
  • baked beans
  • chive potatoes
  • fresh passionfruit and dragonfruit
  • banana bread
  • blueberry muffin (crumbled over the plain yogurt)
  • dragonfruit custard danish (surprisingly delicious for a not-crispy Viennoiserie! I wanted another.)
  • plain yogurt
  • mango yogurt with vanilla cream swirl
  • toasted wholemeal bread with butter and pineapple-papaya marmalade (it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed toast, plain and simple, with butter and jam – this was absolutely delightful)
  • raisin custard danish
  • apple cinnamon muffin (crumbled over the mango yogurt)

Both my stomach and my heart were incredibly full as we boarded the Giant Ibis bus at around 9:45 AM for our 6.5 hour trip to Siem Reap.

The views were unlike anything I’d seen before. One thing that stood out to me was the houses that were built on stilts. Most houses between Phnom Penh (capital of Cambodia) and Siem Reap (North Cambodia) were on stilts, with hammocks and shelves and tables underneath for shade.

The bus stopped three times, with two of the three stops being rest stops for bathroom breaks, and one for a 30-minute lunch break.

Lunch at the Banyan Tree restaurant had a number of options, which was a pleasant surprise since I’d assumed very few options for a food place in the middle of sand and palm trees.

When we arrived at around 3:30, we boarded a tuktuk with all three of our suitcases and two backpacks to go to our hotel, the Riversoul Residence. Riversoul is about fifteen minutes from Angkor Wat, which is why we chose it. It is modern and beautiful in a unique, complementary-colours kind of way, but I do miss the traditional nature and French influence of our first hotel, Raffles in Phnom Penh.

I was amazed by the lack of people in the hotel; it was very empty when we checked in, and my dad attributed this to the fact that the Riversoul Residence is fairly new.

Check out that swimming pool and those lawn chairs which are styled to look like boats!

We took a 10-minute walk to the old market of Siem Reap, which was close to our dinner restaurant, EMBASSY.

EMBASSY has a set menu for each month of the year. They serve French food with a Cambodian twist, using fresh, seasonal, local ingredients from Siem Reap and the surrounding area. All of the stems, leaves, flowers, and garnishes were completely edible. We really did devour every drop.

The three of us ate this seven-course meal:

  1. AMUSE BOUCHE – steamed Chreau village tomato with minced shrimp stuffing
  2. APPETIZER – Kampot scallop with ground toasted rice, kaffir lime leaf, galangal, lemongrass, passionfruit sauce
  3. SOUP – traditional Kdat Soup with turmeric paste, green bass leaf, black chicken (by far my favourite dish of the day, since it was rich, hearty, with a beautiful blend of textures and unique, yet familiarly comforting ingredients)
  4. SORBET – soursop fruit sorbet with fermented black sticky rice and alcohol drizzle
  5. MAIN COURSE 1 – grilled Tonle Sap fish with soybean pickle, ginger, green onion
  6. MAIN COURSE 2 – pork shank from Takeo province, slow-cooked in sugar palm caramel, mushroom sauce, mashed potatoes with coconut milk (also delicious – the meat was very tender and mildly sweet, with great unami flavour from the mushroom gravy)
  7. DESSERT – cashew mousse with red dragonfruit ice cream (the cashew mousse part was spectacular. You can truly taste the cashew, and I appreciated the crispy, chewy, and sweet brown sugar crumble that complemented the nutty mousse)

It was delicious, and now I am dead from deliciousness and excitement for tomorrow, because we’re going to see Angkor Archeological Park!

Charcoal Waffles ♡_♡

Mmmm, pizza. It’s been a while since I’ve had truly, truly amazing pizza and this one from Lamanna’s, an Italian bakery and hot table in Scarborough, did not disappoint. Smothered in provolone and mushrooms, the toppings were simple and tasty – but the crust, charred to perfection, was my favourite part.

Dessert? Large gelato with a scoop of pistachio and a scoop of hazelnut (check out that size compared to the little gelato spoon and my water bottle!) – followed by an unpictured lobster tail cream pastry. Talk about an amazing lunch!

Another day, I had lunch at Light Cafe in downtown Toronto, a chic and modern new spot in Baldwin Village.

The truffled mushroom croissant is their specialty, loaded with creamy truffle mayonnaise, sliced tomato, shiitake mushrooms, and lettuce. The croissant was toasted and tasted fresh. Salad was dressed in sesame, and had plenty of fresh tomatoes inside.

The soup was another highlight: rich, creamy, savoury Lobster Bisque!

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For dessert, I had to order the famous Light Cafe dish – black sesame waffles. There were four heart-shaped black sesame waffles, made with charcoal for that incredible colour, a little vial of rich sesame syrup, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a scoop of black sesame ice cream. All of it was devoured. 😇

Waffles with ice cream is hands-down one of my favourite desserts of all time, and bonus points for special-flavoured waffles like ube (purple yam, specialty of the Philippines), black sesame, or red bean.

This is one of my favourite photographs from my trip downtown. I love how 50% of it is that urban traffic look with trees in the back, and the other half is a pretty lake with trees, and apartments in the back. The contrast is cool!

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The reason for my Toronto trip? Stock. Up. On. Muffins. Since I don’t go downtown very often, and I won’t be going often anymore since it’s starting to get chilly, I bought plenty of muffins, chopped ’em into thirds or quarters, and stashed them in the freezer. These are some of the muffins I remember:

  • blueberry streusel
  • blueberry bran
  • plain blueberry
  • blueberry scone
  • lemon poppyseed
  • carrot
  • banana chocolate chip
  • mixed berry and oat
  • cornmeal
  • lemon currant scone
  • ginger scone

There were definitely more, but that’s all for the ones I can recall. 😎 Apparently, I seem to like muffins a lot?

Excitement. In the form of a delicious plate of coconut Thai green curry with broccoli, mushrooms, onion, and carrots – and in the form of a new book. Sci-fi isn’t really my genre, but this one, RUSH by Eve Silver, had me intrigued all the way through.

A trip to the library meant I took lots more snapshots of the books that are on my to-be-read list. I can’t wait to take these out and see if they’re good.

On Mid-Autumn Festival, which is like Chinese Thanksgiving, I had an incredible meal at a buffet called Dragon’s Pearl, with friends of my grandfather. I. Love. Buffets. So what did I enjoy this time?

  • yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes and gravy
  • steamed ginger and scallion fish
  • Japanese sweet egg, bean curd sushi, other assorted sushi
  • stir-fried vegetables, crispy stir-fried noodles
  • peking duck on a flatbread, with sweet and sour sauce and cucumber
  • creamy crab salad
  • crispy shrimp cakes
  • garlic mussels
  • grilled salmon and plaintains

Dessert was just as delicious.

  • tiramisu
  • green tea cake
  • sweet sesame mochi ball (favourite)
  • regular cheesecake
  • unsweetened cheesecake
  • bread pudding with golden raisins, whipped cream on top (#2 favourite)
  • English trifle
  • kiwi custard tart

Do you like buffets? I’m a sucker for variety, so I adore buffets!

One morning, I had some quiet time to myself in the office so I started designing a new poster for the Integumentary System, which is the system about human skin, hair, and nails.

Totally random note here. This is such a beautiful logo! I like graphic design a lot and want to learn more about designing lettering.

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Speaking of graphic design, I’m creating a PDF doc of Anatomy-related study tips. The entire study guide is written out now, but I’m figuring out how I’d like to design the other pages. What do you think?

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That’s pretty much it for today, guys. Hope you all have the most wonderful rest of the week. 🙂

Wednesday Coast Post: New #1 Dessert and Buffet!

Hi everyone! Just came back from the orthodontist, and before that: a circuit class, an hour of spinning (indoor cycling), and an hour and fifteen minutes of hatha yoga. I had a massive breakfast this morning and just ate a huge lunch of avocado toast with two scrambled eggs with cheddar, zucchini, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, and scallions. Delicious!

Moving on – here is the third post in my Sunshine Coast Series! You can read Monday here, and Tuesday here. 🙂 Let’s get started!


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Leftover muffins from The Bakery in Sechelt: lemon poppyseed, blueberry scone, raspberry mango oatmeal muffin, savoury scone, gluten-free apple cinnamon muffin

Mom and I polished off the last of these delicious baked goods for breakfast on Wednesday morning. You can read about what we thought of these muffins here, on my Tuesday Coast Post.

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Dad had leftover chicken wings from Monday with smoked salmon pasta from Tuesday, and Seline got a McDonald’s egg McMuffin with bacon.

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In Powell River, we spotted two famous eateries: the Tree Frog Bistro and Little Hut Curry. I wanted to have Little Hut Curry SO badly – they are the highest-rated restaurant in the Sunshine Coast and serve authentic Indian dishes, but were closed on Canada Day. 😥

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We went to the Coastal Cookery instead! The restaurant was decorated with mirrors, paintings, and unique lights. This place reminded me a lot of Cactus Club.

Pow Town Poutine: Fresh cut fries, porter and beef gravy, fresh cheese curds

My first impression of this dish? WOW, that’s a huge serving. This wasn’t a regular salad-sized, or even dinner-sized plate – it was a full serving plate, heaping with fries, gravy, and cheese. Despite the large serving, my family wasn’t crazy about this poutine. Seline thought the fries were done in an odd way, and didn’t like the fries themselves. Mom declared that overall, the poutine was too salty for her taste. With fries, gravy, and cheese – I’d agree! Even though I didn’t try this 😛

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BBQ Buttermilk Chicken Bites: Buttermilk soaked and seasoned Vancouver Island chicken, homemade BBQ sauce, fresh cucumber, crispy onions

“Pretty good.” That’s all Dad could say about this dish, even though he rated the restaurant, and all the food in general a solid 4.6 out of 5.

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Ling cod: local ling cod, rich lemon buerre blanc, roasted seasonal vegetables, herbed vegetable rice

I ordered this for myself and Mom to share. First of all, the cod was extremely flavourful – but only on top. In fact, the top layer was overly salty, garlicky, and peppery, while the “inside flesh” was underseasoned (which I prefer!). I also thought the fish was a bit too firm – it might’ve been seared for too long, or perhaps cod is naturally a firmer fish. I was a bit disappointed with the lack of veggies here. Roasted season vegetables? My expectations were high until I saw five sad little spears of asparagus. The asparagus was sprinkled with sea salt, making it quite salty, but the overall texture was nice. I really enjoyed the rice, as I always do at restaurants. While the menu read “herbed vegetable rice”, I couldn’t detect a trace of veggies in the pilaf. There were pinches of oregano and thyme (I think!) combined with the rice, but not one vegetable. 😥 The lemon butter, which was probably spiked with white wine, tasted pretty nice with the rice, fish and asparagus. I’d say that my dish was decent, but not super delicious or special at all.

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Buerre Blanc Mac and Cheese: Not your grandma’s Mac and Cheese. Smoked gouda, aged cheddar, white wine butter sauce, crispy pancetta, fried sage

Seline ADORED this lunch. “Really, really good,” she kept telling me between mouthfuls. “It’s the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had.” She hasn’t had much mac and cheese before (other than Kraft Dinner and the time I made mac and cheese from scratch and gave her diarrhea – seriously). But this one, made with two types of cheese, savoury wine and butter sauce, and topped with crunchy Italian bacon, was incredible. I tried a couple of bites, and it was so rich. The fried sage, like Cactus Club (fried sage on butternut mascarpone ravioli), provided a nice contrast to the cheesy goodness of the pasta. This was truly comfort food at it’s finest! I would agree that this is one of the best mac and cheeses I’ve ever had – dare I say better than Whole Foods’s version?!

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Bourbon Pecan Galette: Fresh puff pastry, pecan almond butter, bourbon maple sauce, vanilla bean gelato

Okay, excuse me if I freak out: THIS WAS MY FAVOURITE DESSERT EVER! Definitely, without a doubt, one of the TOP TWO I’VE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE! Sorry for all the caps – I’m just so excited about this dessert! And I’m kind of drooling right now.

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The buttery and flaky pastry shattered in my mouth, and there was a thick layer of almond paste (like the creamy sweet stuff in my favourite almond croissants). The almond paste was topped with the best crunchy candied pecans, which was adorned with a big scoop of vanilla bean gelato and drizzled with maple sauce. Every ingredient paired well with another, and we couldn’t keep our forks away. I was thistles to licking the bowl. Seline enjoyed the ice cream, Dad loved the maple sauce, Mom was a huge fan of the pastry, and I… basically just savoured every part of this dessert (okay, especially the almond paste). AMAZING!

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I saw the sign for a Farmer’s Market, but it was already 2:00 by then. 😥 Probably a good thing, too, because I could shop at farmer’s markets for HOURS, while my dad and sister despise them. Instead, we visited the Larry Gouthro Park for a Canada Day Celebration. Safeway provided a massive cake for all the participants!

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There was also freshly-made pizza. Some people made the dough right there and then, and others fired up the wood grill. Some people were in charge of scattering the toppings, and one person made change. 🙂 These looked so fresh and yummy – to bad we’d just had lunch!

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In the afternoon, Mom and I took a short walk to the Pacific Point Market. It was an 8-minute walk from our resort. What a nice organic market! It was spacious and newly-renovated, too. I saw a big spice rack that I fell in love with!

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For dinner, we drove 40 minutes to the Laughing Oyster, by the town of Lund. The Laughing Oyster is famous for their big buffets (only served on Wednesdays), live music, and incredible, fresh seafood. We were surprised to find this restaurant, quite literally, in the middle of nowhere! There wasn’t a single car near us as we drove the winding, rural road up to Lund. When we arrived, we drove through a forest (yes, we literally drove on a trail in the woods!) to get to this beautiful seaside restaurant.

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We were so glad we made a reservation – the place was quite busy, with lots of people in line for the buffet. We were lucky enough to score a patio spot (though we didn’t get the full ocean view 😥 ). There was an older gentleman on the other patio, singing and playing his guitar and filling the entire restaurant with lovely music.

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Seriously amazing, right? Counterclockwise from the top right, we have:

Salad with balsamic dressing, blue cheese and pecan spinach salad, sautéed cabbage, roasted cauliflower, zucchini, and peppers, roasted and glazed carrot sticks, saffron and turmeric spiced rice, seafood linguine with salmon and mussels, lemon wedge for oyster, fried oyster with aioli and tzatziki

Middle: roasted salmon with wasabi and balsamic reduction drizzle, salmon and Monterey Jack burrito with spicy creme

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The pan-fried oysters, with the remoulade (French condiment, like aioli), were a highlight of my dinner. I didn’t even know I liked oysters! I also loved the roasted carrots and spiced rice. I found the salad somewhat overdressed, however, and the cabbage nothing special. Their roasted vegetables were a bit on the oily side.

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Everyone in my family raved about this dinner!

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All of our plates looked different. Mom, Dad, and Seline adored the linguini and encouraged me to get some for myself during the second round. My second plate is on the right in the photo above – I couldn’t resist getting another pan-fried oyster, some more rice and carrots, and more of the amazing roasted salmon. The two drizzles are a mayonnaise and wasabi mixture and a balsamic reduction. Oh – and the blob on top? Crispy fried cod!

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Their version of fish and chips, this cod was the freshest I’ve ever had. It had a flavourful tempura-style batter around it, and was so incredible. I wanted more!

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For dessert, I was dying to order the Pate Brisse Cheesecake Terrine with rolled short bread crust and wild blackberry sauce. Unfortunately, Dad didn’t want cheesecake (he thought it wasn’t special…?) and Seline hates berry compotes. Instead, as recommended by our waitress, we ordered the Chocolate Chocolate Crazy Crazy. It was a chocolate mousse cake with a layer of chocolate ganache and chocolate drizzle, with whipped cream and dulce de leche on top.

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Strangely, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this dessert. I think it’s because I prefer my chocolate desserts to be thick, rich, and dense (like black bean brownies!) rather than airy, like mousse. The ganache layer, which is covered by the drizzle, caramel and whip cream, was my favourite part. Still, this dessert was quite far from being memorable. Either way, it was demolished and Seline wanted to lick the plate!

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As we waddled back to the car, Dad found some berry bushes! Not sure if these are blackberries or unripe blackberries, or what. I’m always nervous around wild berries and mushrooms because I think they’ll be poison 😉


l have a driving lesson in half an hour (Canada’s Worst Driver here, guys!), then Mom and I will be cooking a Skinny Broccoli-Cheddar Chicken casserole for dinner with friends tonight. If it’s a success, I’d love to share the recipe with you guys. Yesterday, we bought some Goddess dressing and Roasted Red Pepper dressing on discount yesterday (both organic, 2 for $6!), so we’ll probably incorporate a yummy salad into our dinner as well. Will update you on that soon!


EDIT: the casserole was a huge hit! Six of us, all GIRLS, devoured casserole dish meant for EIGHT people. We also enjoyed a lovely salad made with Goddess dressing (lemon, garlic, herbs, sesame), smoked salmon, and cashews on mixed greens. It was sooo tasty and I couldn’t stop! Thankfully it was salad. 😉

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The casserole, on the other hand, was equally addictive! Creamy, cheesy, flavoured with mushrooms and scallions, this dish was amazing. With brown rice and an entire head of broccoli for the eight of us, it’s hard to believe this is full of filling fibre (and lean protein from the chicken). I loved it – especially the crusty cheese bites with broccoli. Hope you give this a try! Here’s the recipe, which I adapted from Iowa Girl Eats.

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Skinny Cheesy Broccoli, Chicken, and Rice Casserole

Serves 4 (I halved the recipe for the blog)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup long grain brown rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 head broccoli
  • 4 mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 chicken breast, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp + 1 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk, divided
  • 40 mL light sour cream
  • 4 oz shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder

 Directions

  1. Boil broccoli in lightly-salted water for 2.5 minutes. Rinse under cold water to blanch.
  2. Season chicken breast pieces with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Heat olive oil over high heat and saute until no longer pink. Remove to a plate.
  3. Use medium heat now. Add butter to skillet and cook green onions. Add mushrooms.
  4. Stir flour into 1/4 cup milk. Pour mixture into skillet when mushrooms and scallions are golden brown. Add remaining 3/4 cup milk. Cook mixture and stir constantly until thickened, about 8 minutes. Add chicken and allow the mixture to boil (medium heat). Remove skillet from heat.
  5. Add 3/4 of shredded cheese, sour cream, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Stir until smooth.
  6. Add broccoli and rice. Stir until everything is combined.
  7. Scoop mixture into a greased ovenproof casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and golden brown.
  8. Let casserole rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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Have an awesome week guys! My sister and I are going to a cafe downtown tomorrow for lunch as “practice” for our trip to Paris in three weeks – wish me luck 😛

Prom Princess Meals

Prom was yesterday! I had such a great time with my friends last night – AfterGrad ended at 4:00 AM and I was exhausted. The whole day was incredible, though most of it was spent in the hot sun and in an uncomfortable dress. But the lovely photos were worth it! Started the day with pancakes at 7:00 AM before dashing off to a friend’s house for hair and makeup.

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These pancakes were made using my all-time favourite pancake recipe. After mixing the wet ingredients, I separated the batter into two bowls and mixed cocoa powder into one bowl. That’s why two pancakes are chocolate and the other are plain. 🙂 It’s a great way to add more flavour, colour, and texture into your meal.

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One chocolate and one plain where topped with coconut chips – honestly, I put them on everything now – and another chocolate and another plain were smeared with peanut butter and sprinkled with hemp hearts.

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Yogurt is back! Mom bought a large container of honey Greek yogurt from Costco, which was on discount. I love mixing it with a bit of flax and cinnamon before dolloping it onto my pancakes. They add a bit of coolness, creaminess and tang. If you haven’t tried adding yogurt to pancakes, do it! It’s like the icing on your cake. 🙂

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After hair and makeup, we headed to another friend’s house for snacks and conversation. Before the limo arrived, we enjoyed veggies and dip, chocolate brownies (they reminded me of my black bean brownies!), and…

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sandwiches and wraps from Superstore. I had a spinach wrap with turkey – you’ll see in a bit. 🙂

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There was also a massive platter of sliced meat, cheese, and crackers. I found the gouda and mild cheddar a bit plain and bland, but the aged cheddar (orange one) was super flavourful. The crackers had a nice crispiness and taste as well. I didn’t have any meat, but Dad said they were quite tasty.

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There were also chips! The table was so beautiful with all the food and flowers.

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Another friend, Sally, brought a T&T black forest cake. Unfortunately, we didn’t open it. Looked really yummy, though. Here’s my spinach wrap, stuffed with sliced deli turkey, lots of bell peppers, and a bit of lettuce. I devoured this quick lunch and spent some time with everyone in the beautifully-decorated garden for lots of photos. Then, the limo came at around 3:00 and we piled in!

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My first time in a limousine was SO memorable. We drove off to Queen Elizabeth Park, and later Stanley Park (near the water), where we took about 23480923 more photos.

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This is Natasha, one of my close friends, who looked absolutely gorgeous in her mermaid-inspired white prom dress and vintage Hollywood waves. And isn’t Queen Elizabeth park amazing?

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Dinner was enjoyed at about 7:15 at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver. More photos were taken, and by then I had already switched my heels into Fast Flats. :mrgreen:

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The menu featured numerous cold salads and several hot meat and vegetable dishes. This was buffet-style, so I was so worried that I would overeat. Dessert was a buffet as well, which is D-A-N-G-E-R-O-U-S for me.

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While we waited for our table of ten to be called up, I snapped some photos of our table and the entire dining room.

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There were blue and silver GRAD balloons at every table, as well as neatly-arranged menus and cutlery. All of my friends and classmates looked so elegant in their dresses and suits.

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Sadly, we were one of the last tables to be called up. I was pretty hungry by then, and got a little bit of everything on my plate. Some of my favourite dishes here include the penne pasta with breadcrumbs, the mango and coconut rice salad, and balsamic asparagus with parmesan. The cooked (I just wrote cookied!) zucchini and BBQ salmon were great, too. I thought the chicken breast was very tender. 🙂

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This definitely gave me some “party food inspiration” for our next family get-together. I want to try baking maple BBQ salmon and making coconut rice salad. Yum! I was stuffed after this plate.

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But as I always tell my friends – I have another stomach for dessert! At the dessert table, I snabbed a white chocolate cheesecake square, a fruit tart, and a strawberry shortcake coupe, which I learned is simply a glass container for serving dessert – usually featuring cream and fruit.

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I also stole a bite of chocolate mousse. 🙂 The white chocolate cheesecake was my favourite dessert here – loved the crumbly graham bottom and chocolate coating. YUM. I’m still thinking about this cheesecake right now! 😛 Hopefully I’ll get a chance to recreate this cute little guy before leaving for Paris in the summer. Maybe for a family party or gathering?

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That’s it for now guys! I’m actually typing this on a couch in our beautiful lodge in Sechelt, BC. It’s Day 2 of our vacation and I am super excited to share all of our Sunshine Coast meals and adventures with you guys when I get back! They’ll be up in about two weeks, but I’ll still be posting. 🙂 I hope you all have an incredible week like we are here in the Sunshine Coast!