More Incredible Brunch Meals + Desserts

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Incredible sunset. This looks like a painting! I saw this sunset as I was heading home from class.

Good afternoon! I really haven’t blogged in a while; it’s because I have had a couple final exams, a final assignment, and just one more final exam before I am done. Today is June 17, and I am going back to Canada on the 26th. I can’t believe I only have NINE days left in Australia – we’re into the single digits now. Wow.

Anyways, hope you are all having a lovely day so far. Here are some snapshots of the wonderful week I’ve had, starting with a delicious almond croissant from Crust & Co., and a homemade chai latte. It was a great breakfast, and after a few classes, I had lunch with my friends from a social work class. I had the pumpkin soup, which came with a thick slab of bread (unpictured), and it really satisfied all my winter soup cravings.

I spend more time looking at lists of cafes, menus, and Zomato reviews than I do studying, and one cafe really stood out to me as a must-visit place. I knew I wanted to go to Nodo for a long time, but it wasn’t until I found out that their sweet potato waffle would soon leave the menu that I instantly booked it over there!

Here is that waffle that I so badly wanted to try. It was spectacular! The waffle itself was a sweet potato waffle, and it was topped with all kinds of mushrooms, crispy sage, brown butter, a zingy hollandaise, two poached eggs, and an excellent crumble (which I later found out was a toasted pecan crumble).

All of my favourite flavours – sweet potato, eggs, BROWN BUTTER, pecans, SAGE! – all in one excellent, excellent dish. I wish this could be on the menu forever, but I am looking forward to seeing what they will have on the winter menu. How awesome does this look?

For dessert, I couldn’t decide between the chocolate caramel donut and the pumpkin cheesecake, so of course I ordered both. I took the donut to-go, since the server told me it’d keep better, and I ate the pumpkin cheesecake on the spot. It was everything I look for in a cheesecake: creamy (not stiff, ew, I hate stiff or crumbly cheesecakes), dense, flavourful, spiced beautifully with cinnamon and nutmeg, with an excellent white chocolate frosting. I’m a crust connoisseur (who apparently can’t spell connoisseur without Googling it) and this one was a solid 10/10. And, I think it was gluten-free!

I will be really sad to say goodbye to all of my friends, classmates, and coaches here. The yoga studio that I work at is now looking for someone to take over my cleaning job!

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Next cafe on the bucket list is called Goodness Gracious. I am really excited to try these:

  • turmeric latte
  • treat from dessert cabinet
  • PB choc banana smoothie/blueberry vanilla coconut smoothie/strawberry cream cheese vanilla shortcake smoothie
  • tofu moussaka with scrambled turmeric tofu, eggplant, lentils, pumpkin hummus, cashew cream, sumac OR veggie toast with kale, broccolini, heirloom tomato, artichoke, kalenaise, sunflower seeds, poached eggs, charcoal sourdough
  • Side dishes: (can add avocado, salmon, tofu scramble, pulled ham, sweet potato quinoa hash)

I also found out about this new place called Hello Mister Frankie, which is famous for puffles. They are puffy waffles, like Taiwanese/Hong Kong style bubble waffles. I haven’t had the opportunity to go yet, but when I do, it’s going to be the honey and truffle puffle with vanilla and fig soft serve… and a lot of toppings. What would you order?

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I need to clear out some time to go to this place, called Bitter Suite, for their hot chocolate. They make peanut butter hot chocolate, and it is apparently out of this world.

One afternoon when I had planned to study, I went to the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art. A fine way to procrastinate. All of the artwork was unique, thought-provoking, and admirable. When I look at modern/contemporary artwork, I almost instantly need to read the description because I get a little bit confused, and need an explanation. These artists are so skilled, and it really opened my eyes to the world of contemporary art.

Oooh this was amazing! I had avocado toast from Anouk, which was topped with sesame seeds (this made a massive flavour difference), rocket and quinoa with red onions, whipped feta, and romesco sauce. Next time, I’ll add a fried egg to this. The whipped feta had great flavour, and the texture was so cool. This was a great, simple, light, fresh dish that I’d order again in a heartbeat.

For dessert – freshly-baked almond pear loaf with vanilla ice cream. Served warm, this dessert was near perfection. I love the richness that almond meal brings to any dessert.

As you can see, I’ve been having a lot of brunch and not a lot of… study time. 😉

This awesome plate was from PawPaw Cafe: potato hash cakes, fried halloumi, smoked salmon, beetroot relish, turmeric hummus, poached eggs, mashed avocado, lime, and plenty of dukkah. Normally, this isn’t a dish I would order because I don’t like potatoes that much, but this was so flavourful and really delicious. They gave me SO much smoked salmon, and all of the flavours meshed together beautifully. I particularly loved the light sweetness of the beetroot relish with the zing of the turmeric hummus.

For dessert, I had my eye on the caramelized banana with sticky date pudding and vanilla ice cream, but sadly, they only make that at dinner time. Instead, I had the coconut chocolate ice cream with a Ferrero Rocher raw bar and crushed hazelnuts and a raw chocolate sauce. This was raw and vegan! I would have never guessed, and actually enjoyed the coconut flavour.

Riverside walks. I’m really going to miss this, when I go back to Canada.

Pearl Cafe is one of my Brisbane favourites. I savoured their avocado toast one morning, which was topped with whipped goat cheese, sliced avocado, blobs of pureed beet, sprouts, and a poached egg on sourdough. I wish the bread was toasted, though!

Mmmmm – ricotta cake with so many chocolate chips and vanilla ice cream. The buttery, crumbly, light texture of this cake, paired with the richness of the chocolate, was absolutely divine. This is probably what angels eat in heaven.

This great lunch was from Abode Cafe. It’s called the Dulcie, and consists of two thick slices of sourdough bread, ham, Gruyere cheese, and mango chutney. It’s been a while since I’ve had a grilled cheese, and it was calling my name! I loved every bite of this buttery, cheese-filled delight.

For dessert, I had their freshly-baked chocolate brownie, vanilla ice cream, and a beautiful piece of art – their hot chocolate. All served with a side of studying, but let’s be honest, I didn’t really study. How can you focus on disease pathways and clinical spectrums when there is fresh hot chocolate, a warm brownie, and ice cream in front of you?

It totally looks like I’ve been eating at cafes every day, and that’s because… I have. Kind of. I still cook a lot at home, like this plate which had an omelet with truffled gouda (my new favourite cheese), Italian herb smoked salmon, and a mix of grain salads.

Lovely little chai from Morning After Cafe…

preceded this broccoli breakfast bowl, which included farro, red onions, two awesome poached eggs, pita bread, green beans, and hummus.

I couldn’t leave without trying their legendary gluten-free cookie sandwich. The inside was peanut butter buttercream, and it was served with vanilla ice cream. The sweetness of the ice cream, and slight saltiness of the nut butter, paired beautifully with the chewy, crispy, crackly chocolate cookie. I want this every day.

Finally, a quote I found online. Any thoughts?

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One more thing! I had this phenomenal brunch on Friday – potato hash cakes, smoked salmon, yogurt lemon-herb sauce, two poached eggs. I ate this at Baker’s Arms Cafe, after a lovely pot of my favourite chai in Brisbane.

Dessert at Pearl Cafe (just across the street from Baker’s Arms) again – almond frangipane tart with caramelized rhubarb and vanilla ice cream. You can never get enough vanilla ice cream.

The river that I’m gonna miss a lot.

And a little bucket list for places to go before I peace out of Brisbane!

Have a lovely rest of the weekend!

BUCKET LIST

  • CITY
    • Bonsai Botanika mini quiche or sourdough with poached eggs, smoked salmon, sour cream, apple, ricotta, honey mustard, fresh herbs, hot chocolate
    • The Cheese Pleaser 4 cheese toastie
    • Dello Mano chili hot chocolate (7-5 M-Th, 7-7:30 Fri, 9-5 weekends)
  • WEST END
    • Gunshop Cafe gnocchi
  • PADDINGTON
    • Anouk homemade chai, corn beignets, ice cream with brownie
  • NEW FARM/VALLEY/TENERIFE
    • Bitter Suite peanut butter hot chocolate (if unavailable, get wet honey chai tea plunger), poached eggs on toast and add spinach, smoked salmon, crushed avocado + La Macelleria gelato
    • Hello Mister Frankie Puffle: honey + truffle puffle, vanilla and fig soft serve, red bean, peanut and sesame crunch, sachima, tim tam (12.7 total) —> closed Sunday
    • Ginger and Rose (open soon)
  • OTHER
    • The Menagerie hot chocolate + Scout Cafe brekkie bagel with fried egg, smoked salmon/halloumi/avocado, cheddar, rocket, housemate relish, fresh tomato, aioli + Sisco BCL to get muffins or hot chocolate
    • chai from Lewin Street Store
    • Lady Marmalade chai tea infused with milk OR hot chocolate on coconut milk, LM Gringo Waffle (chilli cheese cornbread waffle topped with savoury mince, minced chorizo, black beans, fontina, sour cream, fried egg)
    • chai from Wray Organic + Flour and Chocolate (vanilla slice)
    • RESTAURANT 1 hour + 4 min walk or 26 min train: Goodness Gracious (near Sherwood Arboretum and Corinda library): turmeric latte, treat from dessert cabinet, PB choc banana smoothie/blueberry vanilla coconut smoothie/strawberry cream cheese vanilla shortcake smoothie, tofu moussaka with scrambled turmeric tofu, eggplant, lentils, pumpkin hummus, cashew cream, sumac OR veggie toast with kale, broccolini, heirloom tomato, artichoke, kalenaise, sunflower seeds, poached eggs, charcoal sourdough (can add avocado, salmon, tofu scramble, pulled ham, sweet potato quinoa hash)
  • GABBA
    • RESTAURANT PawPaw Cafe roti canai dinner, sticky date pudding with salted caramel ice cream and grilled banana

Three Unbelievable Brunch Dishes 👌

Good afternoon! Hope your weekend has been wonderful so far. My week has been absolutely amazing, much better than I could’ve imagined – and I’ll show you why!

First, one of my favourite authors, Victoria Aveyard, came to Canada for her book tour! She visited Chapters Metrotown in Burnaby. Of course, I’m in Australia until the end of June, but my sister Seline had the opportunity to meet the lovely Victoria, get her books signed, and listen to Victoria’s Q&A. Victoria Aveyard is the author of the Red Queen quartet, and her newest book – series finale! – War Storm was released recently.

Also: another massive bowl of chai from Three Monkeys Cafe. I’m addicted.

In case you haven’t noticed, I am on a MISSION to try as many chai lattes as I can. This morning, I hit up Northey Street Farmers Market, an organic market, which is known for a cozy shack called Chai Cafe. There, I had a very enjoyable mug of chai, one of the spicier ones in Brisbane. The owner told me that she adds fresh vanilla beans, turmeric, and a plethora of other spices, to create a recipe she learned in India. This chai was one of the top two I’ve had so far… and by that I mean it’s the second-best. 🙂

The Northey Street Markets are lovely! Quite a bit busier than the other markets, perhaps due to its size, with lots of friendly dogs and children. It’s a very family-friendly place and I wish I came with the intention of grabbing a sandwich and doing some people-watching.

After my walk at the Northey Street Markets, I went to the Green Edge Vegan Market and Grocery Store. I’m on the lookout for some enchilada sauce (without too many additives or preservatives), and after visiting two or three different specialty grocery stores – I still haven’t found any.

From there, I tried to take the 450 to go home, caught the 150 bus instead, and ended up in South Bank! It was a wonderful accident, because I’ve had Pourboy Espresso on my bucket list for the longest time. It was destiny – I had to eat here!

Mainly, Pourboy Espresso has been on my must-visit list because of their famous Belgian hot chocolate, made with Callebaut dark Belgian chocolate and organic milk. I love how it was served in this little kettle with extra chocolate chips. It was flavourful and sweet, but the chocolate and milk were not mixed together very well. The first 1.5 cups were milky, but near the bottom of the kettle, the chocolate was much more concentrated and un-melted.

For my brunch dish, I ordered the cheesy jalapeño waffles, which were topped with mashed avocado, grilled cherry tomatoes, and two poached eggs. I was worried the waffles would be too spicy, since the waitress said they were quite spicy, but it turned out to be okay. I loved the generous scoop of avocado, since I haven’t had avo for a while, and the eggs were poached very nicely. The entire dish was fresh and flavourful, and it was sprinkled with some coarse salt that boosted the taste of everything. Overall, a solid brunch dish that I would recommend!

The table to my right savoured a slice of lemon sour cream pound cake with lemon curd, and it looked delicious. On top of that, my server talked about how much she loved this dessert. For those of you who have read my blog for a while now – you know that I’ve never been a fan of citrus desserts. In fact, I hate lemon. I think orange ruins chocolate. Grapefruit desserts should be called breakfast. I’m all about the nutty desserts. The chocolatey desserts. The richer, the more decadent, the creamier – the better. So, ordering this fresh and fruity LEMON dessert was out of character!

But it was good. Really good. Paired with that lemon curd, this slightly-warm, crumbly, buttery cake with blasts of flavour from the toasted walnuts, this was a fantastic way to end my meal.

“We noticed the lady to our right, munching on this cake and gushing about it,” the man beside me had mentioned, “so we had to order it, too. It’s just a ricochet of lemon pound cake.”

A couple days ago, I spent my morning at Corner Store Cafe. I’ve been to Corner Store Cafe a couple times before. Literally, a couple. The first time, I had a lamb flatbread and a smoothie. The second time, I enjoyed the polenta waffles with smoked salmon and a mug of chai. This time, the chai was calling my name again.

For my main dish, I knew I wanted the mushroom quesadillas. These quesadillas were filled with gorgonzola and stracciatella (Italian buffalo milk) cheese, sauteed mushrooms, and spinach. It was set on a bed of pumpkin puree, and topped with two fried eggs and pebre salsa. According to Wikipedia, pebre salsa is a Chilean condiment made of coriander, chopped onion, olive oil, garlic and ground or pureed spicy aji peppers. The dish was a blast of flavours and textures, incredibly filling, and I was in love with the cheesy centres and doughy tortilla.

For dessert, I wanted to try their daily special – a middle eastern fruit bread pudding topped with sliced fruit, and two scoops of orange marmalade ice cream. This was much bigger than I’d expected, and the giant slabs (yes, there were three slices) of bread were layered with figs, dates, raisins, and bananas.

Every bite was fruity and paired well with the zing of the ice cream. I liked how some parts of the fruit bread were crispy and caramelized, while the middles were creamy and pudding-like.

You can probably imagine, that after a mug of milk tea, a veggie-filled quesadilla with two eggs, and then a massive loaf of bread pudding with two scoops of ice cream – that I was very full. 🙂

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Photos of South Bank, Brisbane! Gotta do the touristy stuff here, too.

  • L: a dessert restaurant in South Bank that I want to try!
  • R: photo from the bathroom of Banneton Bakery that took me right back to my summer in Paris, France. I remember all of these stops, and miss Paris so much. Thinking about my time there always makes me happy – and simultaneously leaves me in disbelief. I can’t believe that the 16 year-old me took my younger sister to live in Paris for a month.

Another amazing brunch happened at Pearl Cafe. I’ve wanted to visit Pearl Cafe for ages, and it’s been at the top of my food bucket list for months. For some reason, I thought it would be far away, but it was only a 30-minute bus ride from home.

Here, I didn’t think twice before ordering the crepe, which was filled with fried egg and spinach. It was such an easy choice because the server told me that the crepe was her favourite item on the menu, and she eats it every single day after her shift. Can’t argue with that! The topping is saffron and radish, with fresh prawns and a zingy marinade. Honestly, a spectacular dish, and it was exceptionally tasty with freshly-cracked black pepper and a squeeze of lemon. I can see why Pearl Cafe is so popular!

For dessert… you guys. You guys.

“Tea cake”, to me, sounds boring. I just think of some plain old yeast bread, maybe studded with a couple raisins. Pearl Cafe’s tea cake, however, is on another level. This massive slice was buttery, had incredible crumb, and was loaded with caramelized rhubarb. Yes, caramelized rhubarb! Even better, there was a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. I devoured every crumb, as usual, and would eat this a million times. I’m already planning my next trip back to Pearl Cafe.

Back to the chai! I stole this paragraph from a popular Brisbane food and travel website called The Urban List:

There’s a lot of chat being thrown around by a bunch of heathens trying to tell me that flavoured sugar powder is a worthy substitute. Where’s the LOVE? Where’s the AUTHENTICITY? Nothing compares to the spicy aroma of a freshly brewed pot of proper chai; you feel that shit in your soul, and Brisbane’s got it on lock.

Couldn’t’ve (had to google how to spell that!) said it better.

Anyways, the award for the #1 chai I’ve had in Brisbane so far goes to… the Baker’s Arms! Their chai is a homemade blend, steeped in organic milk and honey. It was rich, had excellent tea flavour, and had subtle sweetness from the honey. I enjoyed this tea with a side of sunshine, before grabbing a tasty meal next door. My only complaint about this chai is that there wasn’t enough. I can’t wait to go back for this!

No, you aren’t having deja-vu; I posted about this incredible peanut butter hot chocolate on my last blog post. It was so good that I had to go back for another mug. Look at those chocolate shavings! That foamy milk! Those granules of sea salt!

Another place I’m dying to visit, and a quote that hit me yesterday. I haven’t been performing very well on a couple recent exams and essays, and surprisingly, don’t feel too discouraged. It’s a weird feeling because I feel like I should be angry or upset about the grades, but I’m not. Interestingly, I’m not in denial about it either… I’ve just accepted it and feel okay with it. I know I didn’t study as much as I normally do, and my grades reflected that, but I’m trying my best. I don’t know – it’s so strange!

Plus, most of my time has been going to – you guessed it – aerials. 😉 I revamped the page, by the way, so y’all should go check it out.

Couple other things – my friends and I are having lunch at Wordsmiths, a cafe on campus, tomorrow. I’ve starred all the items that I think would be delicious, but I haven’t decided which one I’m going to order. I’m leaning towards the soup of the day, depending what it is, but the baked ricotta (it has pumpkin in it!) and vegetable lasagna also sound delicious. Wish I could find photos for all of them, though.

And… I’m back to studying!

By that, I mean I am going to start now, though I should’ve started days ago.

Bye!

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!

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.

One Million Stars

Hi everyone!

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Pearl Cafe breakfast and lunch menu

I hope you are all having an absolutely lovely Easter weekend so far.

Recently, I’ve been very excited about visiting some new restaurants in the area (since we’re on Easter break and the mid-semester reading week!). This restaurant, Pearl Cafe, is one that tops my To-Visit list. I really want to try their homemade angel hair spaghetti with silky eggplant, chilli, and goat cheese. Doesn’t that sound amazing? There are a couple other places that are high up on my list, including Naim (for brunch), Gerard’s Bistro, and Sassafras Canteen.

Here’s the bulletin board at my local yoga studio, Zama Yoga, where I volunteer as a Karma Yogi. That wonderful title just means that I help to vacuum, mop, wrap up garbage, and dust, once a week.

Back home in BC, Arnie is doing well. I have no idea what warranted this photo, but Mom sent it over to me one day. Seline, Mom, and Dad went on a day trip a few days ago to Victoria, where they visited the University of Victoria. Seline is possibly going to UVic next year, so I’m glad they had the opportunity to look around the campus, get a sense of the student life there, and, of course, try one of Victoria’s famed restaurants! They ended up going to Original Joe’s.

Mom sent me these wonderful photos of their meals from Original Joe’s. Seline loved her bacon jalapeño mac and cheese, and Dad enjoyed the chicken tenders. Mom’s bruschetta chicken fettuccine with pesto cream sauce was also very popular amongst the three of them. Though I wish they’d also tried that chocolate fudge brownie ice cream with cookies and cream crust (!!!), they were too full for dessert.

Studying on campus. Sometimes when I have a commitment after school (i.e. aerials, my only commitment LOL), I pack my dinner. This time, it was a delicious hearty Botanica salad mix and some yogurt with blueberries and a muffin.

This looks very fancy, and it was! Because I didn’t make it. 🙂 I got the salad from a vendor at the Jan Powers market, and cooked up an egg with cheese, and fried some of a pumpkin and spinach scone on the side.

Same meal, different day, different filter?

This is One Million Hearts, a super cool exhibit that opened up at King George Square in Brisbane’s city centre. I love this exhibit because of its vibrancy and lovely cause.

I’ve been really into walking recently! I will come back to this with a special post shortly.

And yes, still very much in love with veggies, rice, and halloumi. I could eat this every single day, and I do.

This lovely plate included salads from Botanica, a crushed falafel, and an egg that I cooked up with some grated cheese (I think it was provolone, but I’m onto some Gouda now!). The salads tasted wonderful and very refreshing.

I bought a few tennis balls to roll out some knots, but within half an hour, I broke BOTH of them! This was my first time seeing the inside of a tennis ball, and I guess I was surprised by how fragile they were, and that they were hollow inside.

So I ended up buying a $2 spiky massage ball from Kmart, which is much tougher and has been helping immensely for relieving muscle tension.

spiky-ball-exercises

On Saturday last week, I visited a new (to me) part of town called New Farm. New Farm is known for their lovely markets, performances, and cafes. This cafe, called MYLK + KO, is famous for their vegan, vegetarian, and gluten/dairy-free brunch dishes. I started with the cocowhip, topped with tons of peanut butter, cocoa granola, strawberries, and berry coulis.

My main dish was equally beautiful: falafel, a maple pumpkin slice, halloumi, roasted red pepper hummus, tons of grilled veggies, savoury dukkah, and sprouts. One of the best veggie breakfasts I’ve ever had, and it was so fun to photograph.

On a different note, I am now really into chai lattes! After purchasing a box of chai tea bags, I’ve been brewing up the chai religiously every morning. The creaminess of the milk, mixed with gentle spice from the tea bag, and sweetness from the honey is perfection.

Cindy’s Chai Latte

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 chai teabag
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup milk
  • vanilla extract OR vanilla bean paste, to taste
  • cinnamon, to taste
  • 1 tbsp honey

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine water and milk in a saucepan. Simmer until it almost reaches a boy;.
  2. Break open the teabag. Pour the loose tea into the saucepan. If you don’t, the tea will be weak. Whisk and allow to simmer for 3 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes, giving the tea even longer to brew. Add honey, vanilla, and cinnamon.
  4. Strain out the tea leaves using a fine kitchen sieve, or even coffee filters/paper towels.

Last night I ate something that was unbelievably delicious – milk chocolate enrobing a perfect piece of feathery light Aussie honeycomb. This was from Noosa chocolatier, and one of the best chocolate things I’ve ever eaten. The chocolate was creamy and rich, contrasting with the airy honeycomb. I can’t wait to go back to Noosa for another.

Finally, a tasty salad mix with a variety of quiches! There’s quite a lot on this colourful plate:

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  • 1/4 pumpkin red onion quiche (Botanica)
  • 1/4 spinach quiche (Botanica)
  • 3/4 spinach goat cheese egg quiche (homemade)
  • 1/4 Botanica salad (coleslaw, sweet potato pesto couscous, carrot quinoa, spinach and rice with pumpkin)

That’s pretty much all for now. Wish I had more to share, but I really have not been doing much recently. I wish you all a beautiful weekend full of delicious eats!

Trip Planning: Cambodia’s Top Restaurants

PHNOM PENH TOP RESTAURANTS

  • Malis restaurant (beef in bamboo, goby with Kampot peppercorns, Battambang beef steak, prahok ktis fried rice) **
  • ALMA cafe breakfast (huevos rancheros, enchiladas) **
  • Sesame Noodle House (cold sesame house noodles with pork, veggies, egg OR killer pork pan-fried gyoza OR thor bun, closed Mondays, chocolate sesame balls, close to Russian Market) ***
  • ARTillery (healthy, sausage, eggs, bagels, near Sisowath Quay) *
  • The Foreign Correspondents’ Club (overlooks Tonle Sap river) **
  • Romdeng (NGO for street kids, Khmer classics like baked fish amok, beef loklak, deep-fried tarantula, red tree ants with beef and basil, unique handicrafts) ****
  • Van’s Restaurant **
  • Brooklyn Bistro (cheesy pizzas and burgers) *
  • Sovanna (grilled pork and beef, fish soup) **
  • Java Cafe (sandwiches, pasta, soup, burgers, pastries, coffee, gallery next door) **
  • Feel Good Cafe *
  • Brown Coffee *
  • Khmer Surin Restaurant (local authentic Khmer, beautiful decor, oldest Khmer restaurant) *
  • Backyard Cafe *
  • Khema Pasteur *
  • Daughters of Cambodia **
  • Friends the Restaurant (tapas, smoothies/lassis/shakes, sautéed quit with pepper, eggplant dip with bread, dessert, shop next door, very good cookbook, near National Museum) *****

SIEM REAP TOP RESTAURANTS

  • Sister Srey Cafe (breakfast) *
  • Fresh Fruit Cafe (#1 trip advisor)
  • Haven **
  • Blue Pumpkin (bakery, ice cream, pistachio, amazing desserts) **
  • Embassy (kdat soup) **
  • Cuisine Wat Damnak (curry prawns, fish) *****
  • Sugar Palm (Khmer classics, authentic) **
  • Mie Cafe (4-course menu) *
  • Chaney Tree *
  • Banllé (Mexican, with ice cream) *
  • Vibe Cafe *
  • Damnak Lounge *
  • Nest *
  • Marum *
  • Touich (salted grilled red snapper) *
  • Olive *

KEP RESTAURANTS

  • Sailing Club ****
  • Kimly ****
  • La Baraka ***
  • Breezes ***
  • Democrat **
  • Holy Crab **
  • Veranda (breakfast buffet) **
  • Beach House **
  • Mr. Mab (breakfast) **
  • Pain de Jade (breakfast) *
  • Led Zeppelin *
  • Brise de Kep *
  • Strand (breakfast, fine dining) *
  • Chez Bebe *
  • Eli d’Or (patisserie, breakfast) *
  • Kep Coffee (Mexican food and coffee, breakfast) *