An Outstanding October | Baking and Life

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Breakfast this morning – roasted butternut squash with cinnamon, truffled green beans, 2 scrambled eggs with truffled Gouda, 2 pieces halloumi, roasted brussels sprouts with parmesan // homemade almond milk hot chocolate

This month has been really lovely so far. I am pretty busy with my classes, and have a lot of school work and communication to keep up with. Now that midterms are over, I am happy to have some time to relax and get a head start on studying for the second round of midterms.

Yesterday, I baked chocolate chip banana squares. Since there were five ripe bananas calling my name, I settled on this recipe, which featured five bananas. I adjusted the amounts of flour and added some oats. They turned out AMAZING – I ate two this morning for breakfast after scrambled eggs and veggies. These banana chocolate chip squares are really tender, and satisfy my sweet tooth without being too sweet. I hope you give the recipe a shot!

Five-Banana Chocolate Chip Squares

Inspired by this recipe

Makes 16 squares

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 overripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1 heaping tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Put parchment paper on a 9×9 pan.
  2. Place bananas, honey, butter, eggs, and vanilla in a blender. Blend completely and pour into large bowl.
  3. Mix in dry ingredients and chocolate chips.
  4. Bake 30 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.
  5. Cool completely. Cut into 16 squares.

When I found myself with an extra baked sweet potato, I took off the skin and pureed it, then used it in this great recipe for sweet potato baked oats. They turned out fantastic, and had so much flavour. I’m having fun modifying this base recipe (1.3 cups oats, 1 cup liquid) to try different things. I recently tried this with pumpkin puree instead of sweet potato puree, and steeped the almond milk in chai tea leaves for a great pumpkin-chai fall baked oatmeal.

Healthy Sweet Potato Baked Oatmeal

4 servings

  • 1 and 1/3 cups quick oats
  • 1 heaping tsp cinnamon
  • scant 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup sweet potato puree (1 medium sweet potato)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tbsp melted butter (optional)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix all and bake in 8×8 pan for 25 mins at 350 degrees.


One final baking adventure – I had lots of leftover carrots from making Thai green curry, and thought it would be really nice to bake them up into squares. These turned out great – just sweet enough, and loaded with fall flavour. They froze very well.

Apple-Carrot Squares

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 heaping teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3 single-serve containers of unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whisk all wet ingredients.
  3. Whisk all dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
  4. Whisk wet mixture into dry mixture.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top. Bake the loaf for 45 to 50 minutes. Place the pan on a cooling rack, then let the bread cool in the pan. Gently turn the loaf out onto the rack to cool completely.
  6. Store leftover pumpkin bread in an airtight container lined with paper towels for up to 4 days at room temperature or 7 days in the refrigerator. It can be frozen, wrapped tightly and placed in a ziptop bag, for up to 3 months.

Things from recently:

  • trying to get tickets to Corteo, which is coming to Toronto soon
  • shopping lists
  • choreography ideas
  • recipe for chocolate quinoa breakfast bowl, which I have yet to make
  • new Netflix show on figure skating
  • study schedules
  • ways to learn

Seline and I had lunch at Taco Farm one day, and I had a lovely plate of enchiladas with Mexican rice, arugula salad with pineapples, and sour cream. Seline enjoyed her brunch poutine – a lovely dish of chorizo, veggies, and a fried egg.

Afterwards, we spent some quiet study time at Seven Shores Cafe, where I had a great pumpkin spice chai latte and a vegan chocolate chip cranberry muffin. Seven Shores has the best creative baked goods, and I cannot wait to have their sunflower butter cookie. One day…

 

Another day, another brunch – here, Seline and I savoured meals at Sole. I had the vegetable crepe, which was loaded with spinach, kale, mushrooms, and goat cheese, then topped with a vodka spaghetti sauce and zucchini/squash ribbons. The best part? Fresh pastries – banana bread and pumpkin seed muffins – before the meal. I love pastries as you can see.

 

Random things from here and there:

  • spaghetti squash with Thai green curried vegetables
  • Mom’s homemade cranberry chocolate cookies
  • drew some anatomical structures on Seline!

 

Seline and I LOVE Red House, a restaurant in Uptown Waterloo. Here, I had a beautiful turkey sandwich on potato chive bread (butternut squash aioli was to die for) and a bowl of caramelized onion and golden beet soup. For dessert, I enjoyed the deconstructed lemon meringue pie, which had white chocolate mousse, berry compute, sugar cookie – which I believe should’ve been puff pastry – and lemon curd. Seline had the truffled lamb spaghetti.

 

Snapshots from aerial silks recently.

 

Attending a fun conference at the University of Waterloo!

 

And bits and pieces of volunteering, the fall term with cooler weather, and school stuff. Plus EYE MAKEUP (?!) that my sister experimented on me, for my aerial silks showcase performance.

 

Things from my Notes on my computer.

 

And a couple tasty meals.

 

That’s all I have for ya – wish I could share something more exciting, but every day has just been school, home, school, home, etc. Have a lovely rest of the week!

Back in BC

Hello! I just got my wisdom tooth out. It was the second tooth that I had removed. My first one came out about two years ago.

Here is a flashback to Prince Edward Island. This was my office at the University of Prince Edward Island, and the dinner that we had on our last day. Seline ate the chicken masala skillet, and I had a lovely summer salad, a piece of pan-fried Atlantic salmon, and a great bowl of chowder. Seline and I shared the cinnamon roll on a skillet, topped with vanilla ice cream, for dessert. This was a great dinner from Fishbones.

This is our bedroom and bathroom, which we will be very sad to leave. We loved living in Charlottetown, and we will miss our lovely room and washroom.

Some final moments in downtown Charlottetown, including pics from our daily walk home. I always feel so connected with the PLACES that we visit, and I don’t want to forget the little mundane details.

Before our flight, Seline and I ate sandwiches. Her sandwich, unpictured, was a pesto chicken ciabatta from Receiver Coffee. I had a turkey and harvarti sandwich on multigrain bread from Leonhard’s Restaurant and Cafe. This great sandwich was loaded with a lot of turkey, mixed greens, and mustard dressing.

Things We Did (and Didn’t) Do in Charlottetown

NEVER GOT TO SEE

  • Papa Joe’s
  • Hopyard Beer Bar (fries, pub food)
  • The Chip Shack
  • Terry Berries 20 Great George St, 11-7 hours

RESTAURANTS WE’VE ALREADY VISITED

  • COWS (ice cream) x6
  • Leonhard’s (breakfast and lunch) x4
  • Himalayan Indian Cuisine x4
  • Dairy Queen x4
  • Small Print Board Game Cafe x3
  • Pilot House x3
  • Brakish x2
  • Piatto Pizzeria
  • Dave’s Lobster Charlottetown
  • John Brown Grille
  • Beanz Espresso Bar and Cafe
  • Fishies on the Roof
  • Lobster on the Wharf
  • Merchantman Fresh Seafood and Oyster Bar (S favourite)
  • Receiver Coffee Co.
  • The Gahan House
  • Terre Rouge (brunch; dinner)
  • The Dining Room at the Culinary Institute
  • Mavor’s
  • La Sazon de Mexico
  • Fishes on the Roof / Fishbones
  • Row House Lobster Co.
  • Kettle Black
  • Water Prince Corner Shop
  • Sims Corner Steakhouse and Oyster Bar
  • Claddagh Oyster House
  • Cedar’s Eatery
  • Brickhouse Kitchen & Bar (S favourite)
  • RedWater Rustic Grille

We were very happy to see family when we got back home. We were also happy to go to Ikea! We love Ikea.

Arnie didn’t really miss me, but he was really cute.

For the first few days back in BC, we had plenty of errands to run. Often, I ate waffles in the morning and then we’d go to places like Home Depot.

Mom’s cooking is always a delight. The other day, she made corn on the cob with butter, sautéed garlic green beans, scrambled eggs with shrimp, and chicken thighs sautéed with mushrooms and onions.

One of my good friends from UPEI will come to Vancouver soon. We might have vegan high tea in Vancouver together.

I also had time to go skating! It was nice to be back on the ice and skate around in circles. I want to skate for the University of Waterloo varsity figure skating team in September, but I don’t have my doubles any more.

Another couple of great dinners cooked up with family:

  1. Chicken florentine rolls with asparagus, feta, spinach // roasted baby potatoes // garlic and cheddar pita // brown butter sage mushroom quinoa risotto
  2. Chicken with creamy mushroom sauce // homemade cheesy onion bread // sautéed garlic green beans // gratin dauphinoise

Chicken with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 200g button mushrooms (white), sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1 heaping tbsp all-purpose flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 600g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1in pieces
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped sage
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil and butter in large frying pan.
  2. Cook mushrooms for 5 minutes until brown.
  3. Add onion. Cook for 2-3 mins until soft.
  4. Add garlic. Cook for 1 minute.
  5. Remove vegetables from pan. Wipe pan clean with paper towels.
  6. Heat remaining 2 tbsp oil in the pan.
  7. Season flour heavily with salt and pepper. Toss chicken in flour, shaking off excess.
  8. Cook chicken for 8-10 mins, turning, until golden all over.
  9. Add stock, sage, and boil.
  10. Add mushroom mixture. Simmer 5 mins, stirring occasionally, until sauce reduces.
  11. Add cream. Cook 2-3 mins until chicken is cooked and sauce is thick and creamy.

Gratin Dauphinoise

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 kg Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 tbsp softened butter
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 3/4 cups cream

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Finely slice potatoes.
  3. Rub 8×8 deep-sided ovenproof dish with butter.
  4. Spread in half the potatoes.
  5. Sprinkle with garlic. Season, and arrange potatoes nicely on top.
  6. Pour in the cream. You should just be able to see the cream coming up around the edges.
  7. Dot the top with remaining butter.
  8. Put dish on large baking sheet.
  9. Cook in centre of the oven for 1 hour, until potatoes are soft, cream has evaporated, and top is golden.
  10. Rest 10 minutes before serving.

This chocolate cake was on my to-bake list for a long time, and we finally made it! It stuck to the pan, but was still really delicious.

Paula Shoyer’s Chocolate Quinoa Cake

Serves 12

INGREDIENTS

  • 130g quinoa, 1.5 cups water (or 2 1/4 cups cooked)
  • melted coconut oil for greasing
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup orange juice from 1 orange
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 300g sugar
  • 80g dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 55g bittersweet (70%) chocolate

GLAZE

  • 140g bittersweet (70%) chocolate
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract, careful when adding

DIRECTIONS

  1. Boil quinoa and water over medium heat.
  2. Reduce heat to low. Cover saucepan. Cook quinoa until liquid is absorbed. It should be funny cooked and not crunchy.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12-cup Bundt pan. Sprinkle cocoa powder over the greased pan. Shake the pan to remove excess starch.
  4. Place quinoa in a blender. Add orange juice, eggs, vanilla, oil, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Process until mixture is very smooth.
  5. Melt chocolate over a double boiled. Add chocolate to quinoa batter and process until well-mixed. Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan. Bake 50 mins, or until skewer comes out clean.
  6. Let cake cool 10 mins. Turn it out of the pan onto a wire cooling rack. Let it cool on the rack.
  7. Melt chocolate for glaze in a double boiler. Add oil and vanilla. Whisk well. Let glaze sit 5 mins. Whisk it again. Use silicone spatula to spread the glaze over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides.
  8. Serve at room temperature. Store leftovers airtight at room temperature.

One more new-ish dinner – creamy salmon pasta.

Salmon Pasta

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • dried pasta
  • salt and pepper
  • 3.5 oz heavy cream
  • salmon
  • 1 tbsp chopped capers
  • zest from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped dill
  • parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Fry salmon. Break into pieces.
  2. Cook pasta in large pan of salted water.
  3. Mix cream with capers, lemon zest, and dill. Season heavily.
  4. Drain pasta. Reserve 1 ladle of cooking water.
  5. Return pasta to pan with water.
  6. Toss sauce with pasta. Add shredded salmon. Stir enough to mix. Add parmesan cheese.
  7. Serve with more parmesan.

That’s pretty much it for now.

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Have a good rest of the week.

CHOWDER FRIES in C-Town

Good morning!

Food-filled post ahead, guys. First of all, my sister and I are going to Cavendish tomorrow! It’s a touristy beach town in northern Prince Edward Island. We’ll be catching a 10:30 AM bus tomorrow and arriving in just over an hour. Both of us are really looking forward to it. I’ll be sure to take lots of photos.

Yesterday, Seline and I went to the Pilot House, where she had a striploin with mushrooms and asparagus. I had the warm seafood salad, with seared Cajun-spiced haddock, salmon, trout, shrimp, and scallops on mixed greens with cucumber, tomato, and lemon. I ate this last week, and had to order the same thing again. It’s so good – especially the goat cheese. Before our entrees, Seline ate a plate of calamari, and I had a cup of seafood chowder with a buttermilk biscuit. THE. BEST.

 

For dessert, we shared a delicious cookie pie topped with two scoops of ice cream and plenty of whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and nuts. Seline is not a dessert person, but she did enjoy this.

 

Couple of other things:

  • Seline stopped coming with me to school. Now, she’s staying at home to do some other things.
  • I chose my courses, but because there’s a time conflict, two of the courses were not added. I’m keeping in touch with my advisor to figure things out.

 

Yesterday, Seline and I went to the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market. One of my favourite vendors makes incredible focaccia bread. I had the maple-pecan focaccia, and Seline enjoyed her caramelized onion focaccia. I also had a pretty good iced London Fog. We chatted in the booths and ate our focaccia. 🙂 It was a really enjoyable morning, because I only work afternoons on Wednesday.

 

This maple-pecan focaccia was unbelievably delicious. The creamy, slightly eggy (?) topping was my favourite part.

 

The next couple of photos are actually from last week, when we were ALSO at the Pilot House. Seline ate the BURGERNATOR, which was stuffed with a big beef patty, deep-fried harvarti, all the normal burger fillings, AND a generous scoop of barbecue pulled pork.

 

I had that incredible warm seafood Cajun salad. Guys… I’d marry this salad.

 

For dessert, we savoured a sticky date pudding with vanilla ice cream. Dare I say – one of the best sticky date puddings we’ve eaten so far?

 

A fun day downtown, including: playing chess at The Great George hotel, a historical building. Neither of us can play chess, so this was a disaster.

 

Confederation Landing is a couple blocks from the “main part” of downtown. Seline and I ate COWS Creamery ice cream, looked at the water, and even bought sunglasses. Mine broke, and she didn’t bring a pair.

 

Seline and I are obsessed with this bookstore in downtown Charlottetown. It’s called The Book Emporium. We go at least four nights a week, to read, chat, and look at some new books. Last week, Seline bought three books for the price of two – The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials by James Dashner, AND the first book of the Harry Potter series.

Also, we always go to a place called Receiver Coffee Company, where Seline gets iced tea.

 

It looks like we’ve been going downtown and having fun every single day (which is true, because we have), but a large part of my time in PEI is spent at the university, where I have been working on a number of tasks. When I’m not working on UPEI-related research, I’m helping other people with miscellaneous tasks here and there. Check out my office space!

By the way, yesterday, I ate an ENTIRE BAG of that chocolate bark with caramelized nuts. It was heavenly. I just couldn’t stop!

 

Row House Lobster Company was another place that both of us were really looking forward to, and it did NOT disappoint. I had a stunning lobster gnocchi, and Seline had a lovely striploin with sauteed vegetables. We shared a chowder, as usual, and had bread pudding for dessert.

 

On Saturday, I went to the farmer’s market. The Charlottetown Farmer’s Market is in a nice building, and some vendors sell their goods outdoors.

 

I returned from the market with an array of delicious food – croissants, banana walnut bread, blueberry-lemon crumb cake, and a tasty brownie.

 

Another day, Sal and I went to Terre Rouge. This was one of my favourite restaurant experiences in Charlottetown so far – perhaps one of my top three? I had the lobster cannelloni (a word that I can never spell), and Seline ordered the creamy mac and cheese for her entree. We were given a lovely amuse-bouche: strawberry with mint and creamed goat cheese. Then, we shared a seafood chowder with a cheddar biscuit before we ate our entrees.

 

For dessert, I absolutely LOVED this miso gelato with lemon-blueberry cake, cream cheese frosting, caramel sauce, and chocolate ganache.

 

On Sunday, Seline and I did an escape room (TOTALLY a post on its own, right there). Beforehand, we had lunch at Brakish, near the water.

 

We started with a big platter of CHOWDER FRIES! You guys! This is hands-down my favourite fries dish. Ever.

Then, Seline had a grilled chicken wrap, and I ate a barbecue salmon salad with feta, blueberries, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds.

For dessert, I ate up their chocolate mousse with coconut whip.

 

This lovely meal was from Merchantman, where Seline ate crispy chicken tacos and fries. I had the seafood pappardelle with perfectly-seared scallops and mussels. I wish there was more parmesan on this dish, but the scallops were 10/10 perfection. Our dessert was a sticky toffee pudding, and we ordered another scoop of ice cream after.

 

Walking around the waterfront…

 

And that’s it! I’m actually at work, so I will get back to work. Have the best day, and I can’t wait to post more on our Cavendish adventures.

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.

#tbt | The Time I Ate Around the World… in Toronto

By the way, friends, this is a repost of a post that I’d published on BuzzFeed last spring. 🙂 For those of you who haven’t seen it (or, perhaps, wish to revisit?!) – I hope you enjoy!


Hi, everyone! My name is Cindy, and I am a 19 year-old food fanatic living in Waterloo, Ontario.

I study Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo, and recently finished my first work term. Because I am in the co-op program, I alternate between four months of school and four months of work. From January to April, I worked full-time as a clinical assistant at the Toronto Health Centre in downtown Toronto. It was my first time living alone in a big city, and I was super excited to say goodbye to exams and studying - and start exploring the incredible food scene!PS: my food blog, The Flying Foodie, celebrated its third birthday a few months ago. What started out as a gallery for my oatmeal photos has blossomed into a site for restaurant reviews, stressed-student rants, yoga progress photos, and travel notes. Ask me about the time I lived in Kathmandu (Nepal), St-Eustache (Quebec, Canada), or Paris (France)!

I study Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo, and recently finished my first work term. Because I am in the co-op program, I alternate between four months of school and four months of work. From January to April, I worked full-time as a clinical assistant at the Toronto Health Centre in downtown Toronto. It was my first time living alone in a big city, and I was super excited to say goodbye to exams and studying – and start exploring the incredible food scene!

PS: my food blog, The Flying Foodie, celebrated its third birthday a few months ago. What started out as a gallery for my oatmeal photos has blossomed into a site for restaurant reviews, stressed-student rants, yoga progress photos, and travel notes. Ask me about the time I lived in Kathmandu (Nepal), St-Eustache (Quebec, Canada), or Paris (France)!

 

Good food for a good mood.

Most people would agree with me - there are few things more beautiful than a steaming, crispy stack of onion rings or a gooey molten chocolate cake. Food, however, can do more than cause us to salivate, or perhaps whip out a camera. As I discovered after three months of exploring Toronto’s incredibly diverse food scene, I realized that food is able to connect anyone with any culture.The challenge: visit the most authentic restaurants for cuisines that I have never tried before. As a Chinese girl from Coquitlam, British Columbia, I grew up with Chinese dishes and Korean food. For that reason, I tried to avoid those cuisines during my four-month stay in Toronto.

Most people would agree with me – there are few things more beautiful than a steaming, crispy stack of onion rings or a gooey molten chocolate cake. Food, however, can do more than cause us to salivate, or perhaps whip out a camera. As I discovered after three months of exploring Toronto’s incredibly diverse food scene, I realized that food is able to connect anyone with any culture.

The challenge: visit the most authentic restaurants for cuisines that I have never tried before. As a Chinese girl from Coquitlam, British Columbia, I grew up with Chinese dishes and Korean food. For that reason, I tried to avoid those cuisines during my four-month stay in Toronto.

5 simple rules:

1. Cafe or restaurant must be within 35 minutes (by streetcar) from the downtown core.2. Go to every cafe/restaurant by myself to fully enjoy the meal experience.3. No sponsorships, no paid reviews, etc.4. No judging the food by the customer service, the design of the restaurant, or any other external factors. Food is food.5. Food must be as authentic as possible!

1. Cafe or restaurant must be within 35 minutes (by streetcar) from the downtown core.

2. Go to every cafe/restaurant by myself to fully enjoy the meal experience.

3. No sponsorships, no paid reviews, etc.

4. No judging the food by the customer service, the design of the restaurant, or any other external factors. Food is food.

5. Food must be as authentic as possible!

Canada: Canoe Restaurant

One time, I asked an upper-year student and Torontonian what the best thing about Toronto was - in the winter. Without hesitation, her answer was "Winterlicious". Winterlicious is one of Toronto's culinary celebrations, where over 200 restaurants in the city offer reduced-price meals.Anyways, Canoe was one of the first restaurants that came to mind when I heard "reduced-price". Located on the 54th floor of the TD Centre tower, Canoe is renowned for its stunning views, innovative meals, and stylish restaurant design. Being the master procrastinator I am, I emailed Canoe the day before Winterlicious began, and was happily surprised when I was told that I could make a reservation for lunch the next day.My meal began with two types of fresh, seedy bread and a tasty mustard-like spread. For the appetizers, I was served a plate of foie gras with crispy shards and blackberry jam, and smoked cod rillettes with cornichons. The sweet, rich molasses crumbles on top added excellent contrast. For the main course, I had paccheri pasta with chili oil, fried capers (the best part!), fresh cheese, and braised greens. Of course, dessert was the most anticipated part, and it certainly did not disappoint. Creamy caramel mousse, vanilla creme, stewed Muskoka cranberries, and pumpkin seed brittle were the ideal contrast to the sugary date pudding.And yes, I ate all of this by myself. And finished it.

One time, I asked an upper-year student and Torontonian what the best thing about Toronto was – in the winter. Without hesitation, her answer was “Winterlicious”. Winterlicious is one of Toronto’s culinary celebrations, where over 200 restaurants in the city offer reduced-price meals.

Anyways, Canoe was one of the first restaurants that came to mind when I heard “reduced-price”. Located on the 54th floor of the TD Centre tower, Canoe is renowned for its stunning views, innovative meals, and stylish restaurant design. Being the master procrastinator I am, I emailed Canoe the day before Winterlicious began, and was happily surprised when I was told that I could make a reservation for lunch the next day.

My meal began with two types of fresh, seedy bread and a tasty mustard-like spread. For the appetizers, I was served a plate of foie gras with crispy shards and blackberry jam, and smoked cod rillettes with cornichons. The sweet, rich molasses crumbles on top added excellent contrast. For the main course, I had paccheri pasta with chili oil, fried capers (the best part!), fresh cheese, and braised greens. Of course, dessert was the most anticipated part, and it certainly did not disappoint. Creamy caramel mousse, vanilla creme, stewed Muskoka cranberries, and pumpkin seed brittle were the ideal contrast to the sugary date pudding.

And yes, I ate all of this by myself. And finished it.

Indigenous Canada: PowWow Café

A Pow wow (literally meaning "spiritual leader" in Narragansett), I learned, is a social gathering for numerous different American-Indian communities - a place to sing, dance, meet new friends, and honour their culture. Pow Wow Cafe is one of Toronto's few Indigenous restaurants. I thoroughly enjoyed this creative variation on eggs benedict, with two poached eggs, goat cheese, and dill topping a large slab of bannock, or frybread (fresh from the fryer). The richness of the cheese, egg yolk, and fried dough contrasted well with the fresh, tangy salad made with ingredients from the market.

A Pow wow (literally meaning “spiritual leader” in Narragansett), I learned, is a social gathering for numerous different American-Indian communities – a place to sing, dance, meet new friends, and honour their culture. Pow Wow Cafe is one of Toronto’s few Indigenous restaurants. I thoroughly enjoyed this creative variation on eggs benedict, with two poached eggs, goat cheese, and dill topping a large slab of bannock, or frybread (fresh from the fryer). The richness of the cheese, egg yolk, and fried dough contrasted well with the fresh, tangy salad made with ingredients from the market.

Latin America: Bloom

Since Winterlicious is a two-week event, I had time to visit a couple restaurants. Bloom, in Bloor West, was the second of the three. They serve Nuevo Latino cuisine, which is essentially a beautiful blend of Latin American and Spanish cuisine. I savoured their soup of the day, which was loaded with wild foraged mushrooms, roasted poblano peppers, and tiny chunks of potato. The main course was two charred corn fritters, chili jam, a mushroom and onion escabeche, and fresh greens topped with chopped tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. The corn fritters were unbelievable - hot, crispy, and so flavourful with the sweet chili jam. I wish there were more fritters. While I waited for my dessert of guava bread pudding with vanilla crème anglaise, I enjoyed a cup of tea with milk and cane sugar. The dessert was a lovely way to end the meal. Though I didn't detect any guava flavour, the golden-brown dessert was the perfect size, served warm, and just sweet enough.

Since Winterlicious is a two-week event, I had time to visit a couple restaurants. Bloom, in Bloor West, was the second of the three. They serve Nuevo Latino cuisine, which is essentially a beautiful blend of Latin American and Spanish cuisine. I savoured their soup of the day, which was loaded with wild foraged mushrooms, roasted poblano peppers, and tiny chunks of potato. The main course was two charred corn fritters, chili jam, a mushroom and onion escabeche, and fresh greens topped with chopped tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. The corn fritters were unbelievable – hot, crispy, and so flavourful with the sweet chili jam. I wish there were more fritters. While I waited for my dessert of guava bread pudding with vanilla crème anglaise, I enjoyed a cup of tea with milk and cane sugar. The dessert was a lovely way to end the meal. Though I didn’t detect any guava flavour, the golden-brown dessert was the perfect size, served warm, and just sweet enough.

Lebanon: Tabülè

Tabülè Middle Eastern Cuisine has four locations around Toronto, and each one is known for cozy Lebanese dishes, plenty of veggie options, and cultural flair.I’ve always been a huge eggplant lover, but this Eggplant Vegetarian Plate easily takes the cake for the best eggplant dish I’ve ever had. The eggplant was reminiscent of tempura, lightly crispy on the outside yet steaming hot and creamy inside. The tahini dressing was lemony, rich, and full of sesame flavour, while the müjaddara, or lentil-rice base, was hearty and flavourful.Dessert was just as impressive. The waitress recommended the custard, and I was eager to give it a try! On the side, I had two scoops of gelato (smaller than I’d expected): one vanilla halva, the other pistachio. The Künafa Ashta, the phyllo pastry layered with custard and topped with rosewater syrup, blew my mind. Warm, lightly-sweetened custard with tiny curds and a rich milky flavour, topped with crisp “threads” (like vermicelli noodles) and a honey-like syrup and crushed pistachios. This dessert was certainly one to remember. A must-try if you ever visit Tabülè!

Tabülè Middle Eastern Cuisine has four locations around Toronto, and each one is known for cozy Lebanese dishes, plenty of veggie options, and cultural flair.

I’ve always been a huge eggplant lover, but this Eggplant Vegetarian Plate easily takes the cake for the best eggplant dish I’ve ever had. The eggplant was reminiscent of tempura, lightly crispy on the outside yet steaming hot and creamy inside. The tahini dressing was lemony, rich, and full of sesame flavour, while the müjaddara, or lentil-rice base, was hearty and flavourful.

Dessert was just as impressive. The waitress recommended the custard, and I was eager to give it a try! On the side, I had two scoops of gelato (smaller than I’d expected): one vanilla halva, the other pistachio. The Künafa Ashta, the phyllo pastry layered with custard and topped with rosewater syrup, blew my mind. Warm, lightly-sweetened custard with tiny curds and a rich milky flavour, topped with crisp “threads” (like vermicelli noodles) and a honey-like syrup and crushed pistachios. This dessert was certainly one to remember. A must-try if you ever visit Tabülè!

Thailand: PAI

PAI, named after a village in Northern Thailand, was recommended to me by a coworker, and I was skeptical because I am pretty confident in my Thai-cooking skills. Upon arriving at the basement-esque restaurant, however, I realized I was in for a treat. The restaurant owners also manage Sukhothai and Sabai Sabai in Toronto.I ordered the green curry with chicken (other options include shrimp, beef, fish, pork, tofu, or vegetables), a hearty dish that contained bamboo shoots, kaffir lime leaves, basil, green pepper, and luscious coconut milk, and served with steamed jasmine rice. Although it was lunchtime, I was able to order from the dinner menu (Gaeng Kiaw Wan) and have the green curry served inside a coconut. My favourite part of the meal was scraping the coconut meat out of the coconut. One thing I do wish, however, was that the waiters and waitresses made daily dessert specials clear to everyone.Note: I went to PAI on a weekday afternoon, and it was packed; I didn’t get a table and sat at the bar. I can only imagine how busy it would be on weekends, or during the dinner rush. Make reservations accordingly, or come early!

PAI, named after a village in Northern Thailand, was recommended to me by a coworker, and I was skeptical because I am pretty confident in my Thai-cooking skills. Upon arriving at the basement-esque restaurant, however, I realized I was in for a treat. The restaurant owners also manage Sukhothai and Sabai Sabai in Toronto.

I ordered the green curry with chicken (other options include shrimp, beef, fish, pork, tofu, or vegetables), a hearty dish that contained bamboo shoots, kaffir lime leaves, basil, green pepper, and luscious coconut milk, and served with steamed jasmine rice. Although it was lunchtime, I was able to order from the dinner menu (Gaeng Kiaw Wan) and have the green curry served inside a coconut. My favourite part of the meal was scraping the coconut meat out of the coconut. One thing I do wish, however, was that the waiters and waitresses made daily dessert specials clear to everyone.

Note: I went to PAI on a weekday afternoon, and it was packed; I didn’t get a table and sat at the bar. I can only imagine how busy it would be on weekends, or during the dinner rush. Make reservations accordingly, or come early!

France: Too Many!

From watching French children's TV shows to taking French courses in university, there's something about the French language, culture, and food that attracts me unlike anything else. In fact, if I had to pick a favourite food (my least favourite question, EVER) - it would be chocolate almond croissants.During my time in Toronto, I was lucky to visit Chabrol after a trip to the Royal Ontario Museum. Chabrol, located in a lavish part of town known as Yorkville, was a teeny-tiny cafe that serves beautifully simplistic French cuisine. I enjoyed a gratin of escarole, celeriac, and savoury. A gratin is a dish topped with breadcrumbs and melted cheese, to create a lightly-browned crust. After my sizzling hot gratin had been devoured, I ordered the apple tart with calvados sabayon. The apple tarts at Chabrol are made fresh to order, using homemade puff pastry, and require 30 minutes of advance notice. I enjoyed every bite of the classic meal.Aside from Chabrol, I also enjoyed visiting Delysées, Nadège, The Tempered Room, Patisserie LaCigogne, Maman, and Thobors. Some of my favourite treats include chocolate praline croissants, coconut eclairs, pistachio eclairs, pistachio croissants, and a tiramisu white chocolate cake.Public Service Announcement: pistachio croissants from Delysées are out of this world. Stuffed to the brim with creamy, nutty pistachio filling, and perfectly “shatter-y” butter topping - it’s truly the best pistachio croissant I’ve had.

From watching French children’s TV shows to taking French courses in university, there’s something about the French language, culture, and food that attracts me unlike anything else. In fact, if I had to pick a favourite food (my least favourite question, EVER) – it would be chocolate almond croissants.

During my time in Toronto, I was lucky to visit Chabrol after a trip to the Royal Ontario Museum. Chabrol, located in a lavish part of town known as Yorkville, was a teeny-tiny cafe that serves beautifully simplistic French cuisine. I enjoyed a gratin of escarole, celeriac, and savoury. A gratin is a dish topped with breadcrumbs and melted cheese, to create a lightly-browned crust. After my sizzling hot gratin had been devoured, I ordered the apple tart with calvados sabayon. The apple tarts at Chabrol are made fresh to order, using homemade puff pastry, and require 30 minutes of advance notice. I enjoyed every bite of the classic meal.

Aside from Chabrol, I also enjoyed visiting DelyséesNadègeThe Tempered RoomPatisserie LaCigogneMaman, and Thobors. Some of my favourite treats include chocolate praline croissants, coconut eclairs, pistachio eclairs, pistachio croissants, and a tiramisu white chocolate cake.

Public Service Announcement: pistachio croissants from Delysées are out of this world. Stuffed to the brim with creamy, nutty pistachio filling, and perfectly “shatter-y” butter topping – it’s truly the best pistachio croissant I’ve had.

El Salvador: Latin American Emporium

Waterloo, where are your cheap authentic ethnic eats at? At the Latin American Emporium in the Kensington Market, I enjoyed some incredible Salvadorean food - a pupusa, horchata, and a fried plantain with creamy cheese. The tiny eatery is located in the back of a grocery store, and it is the most unassuming place that likely flies under the radar.What is a pupusa, you ask? It is a thick, handmade, corn tortilla stuffed with a savoury filling, and often served with tangy, slightly-spicy coleslaw. I love how the corn tortilla was chewy, yet melt-in-your-mouth. Horchata is a traditional drink made of rice milk, blended with sesame, cinnamon, vanilla, and cocoa powder (all my favourite ingredients in one incredible drink). Despite the plantain being a bit oily for my taste, you can’t really go wrong with an entire meal that costs less than $5.

Waterloo, where are your cheap authentic ethnic eats at? At the Latin American Emporium in the Kensington Market, I enjoyed some incredible Salvadorean food – a pupusahorchata, and a fried plantain with creamy cheese. The tiny eatery is located in the back of a grocery store, and it is the most unassuming place that likely flies under the radar.

What is a pupusa, you ask? It is a thick, handmade, corn tortilla stuffed with a savoury filling, and often served with tangy, slightly-spicy coleslaw. I love how the corn tortilla was chewy, yet melt-in-your-mouth. Horchata is a traditional drink made of rice milk, blended with sesame, cinnamon, vanilla, and cocoa powder (all my favourite ingredients in one incredible drink). Despite the plantain being a bit oily for my taste, you can’t really go wrong with an entire meal that costs less than $5.

Cuba: La Cubana

A Cuban brunch spot in Roncesvalles (with another location at Ossington), called La Cubana, serves up some mean baked eggs. I’m always hesitant of baked eggs, because, well, they’re baked eggs. It takes a 10-second google search, some good cheese, and a couple eggs to make a decent baked egg dish - fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised by the creative twist added to this brunch classic at La Cubana. The baked eggs were mixed with sofrito (a sauce with garlic, onions, paprika, and tomatoes in olive oil), yuca (also known as cassava, a root similar to sweet potatoes), queso fresco (creamy, un-aged white cheese), and topped with avocado. On the side, there were rice and beans, tostones (slices of plantain that have been fried two times, making them chewy and firm), and coleslaw. The mildly-spicy rice and beans were my favourite part, because they paired well with every other flavour, from the creamy queso to the yuca and crispy cabbage. Next time - donuts for dessert!

A Cuban brunch spot in Roncesvalles (with another location at Ossington), called La Cubana, serves up some mean baked eggs. I’m always hesitant of baked eggs, because, well, they’re baked eggs. It takes a 10-second google search, some good cheese, and a couple eggs to make a decent baked egg dish – fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised by the creative twist added to this brunch classic at La Cubana. The baked eggs were mixed with sofrito (a sauce with garlic, onions, paprika, and tomatoes in olive oil), yuca (also known as cassava, a root similar to sweet potatoes), queso fresco (creamy, un-aged white cheese), and topped with avocado. On the side, there were rice and beans, tostones (slices of plantain that have been fried two times, making them chewy and firm), and coleslaw. The mildly-spicy rice and beans were my favourite part, because they paired well with every other flavour, from the creamy queso to the yuca and crispy cabbage. Next time – donuts for dessert!

Finland: Karelia Kitchen

If I could skip class and go for brunch right now, Karelia Kitchen would be the place. I browsed their menu while sipping a Nordic fog, which was a fun twist on the London fog tea latte. I wanted the "Oka Grilled Cheese" made with milk bread, caramelized pear slices and lingonberry jam, but ultimately settled on the "Potato Pancake", which came with hot smoked trout, beet and horseradish cured gravlax, and a single poached duck egg. Friends, this was easily best gravlax I have ever had. Period. Sweet, tangy, and beautifully tender, no gravlax shall ever compare.For dessert, I was happy to order their famous carrot cake. You need to take a look at their Fika menu, which is full of cakes, cookies, tarts, and pies. It was tricky to choose the carrot cake, especially with things like "Buttermilk Sponge Cake with Almond Praline", "Saffron and Pistachio Coffee Cake", and "Flourless Chocolate and Almond Fudge Cake" on the menu, but the couple next to me wouldn't stop gushing about the carrot cake, so I had to try it for myself. They were right. Moist (sorry), with tangy and fresh cream cheese icing and a side of various fruit, I demolished the entire slice.

If I could skip class and go for brunch right now, Karelia Kitchen would be the place. I browsed their menu while sipping a Nordic fog, which was a fun twist on the London fog tea latte. I wanted the “Oka Grilled Cheese” made with milk bread, caramelized pear slices and lingonberry jam, but ultimately settled on the “Potato Pancake”, which came with hot smoked trout, beet and horseradish cured gravlax, and a single poached duck egg. Friends, this was easily best gravlax I have ever had. Period. Sweet, tangy, and beautifully tender, no gravlax shall ever compare.

For dessert, I was happy to order their famous carrot cake. You need to take a look at their Fika menu, which is full of cakes, cookies, tarts, and pies. It was tricky to choose the carrot cake, especially with things like “Buttermilk Sponge Cake with Almond Praline”, “Saffron and Pistachio Coffee Cake”, and “Flourless Chocolate and Almond Fudge Cake” on the menu, but the couple next to me wouldn’t stop gushing about the carrot cake, so I had to try it for myself. They were right. Moist (sorry), with tangy and fresh cream cheese icing and a side of various fruit, I demolished the entire slice.

India: Banjara, Mother India, Gandhi’s

Ah, Indian food. When I lived in Kathmandu, Nepal, palak paneer was my go-to meal. Savoury, rich spinach stew, studded with chewy chunks of paneer cheese, there's nothing to hate about it. In fact, saag paneer was one of my #1 favourite things about Toronto. I visited three Indian places:* Banjara (plate, with naan bread on the right): I loved their vegetarian platter, which came with curry-spiced rice, vegetable pakora, lentil dahl, palak paneer, rice pudding, and aloo gobi (cauliflower and potato curry). This came with generously-buttered naan, and the variety in this meal was a lovely surprise. I loved all of the flavours, particularly the palak paneer, which had extra onion. Would highly recommend Banjara to anyone looking for a different dinner experience.* Mother India (little photo in the middle, on the bottom): This roti from Mother India on Queen West was stuffed with pureed spinach, tender potatoes, and some chunks of paneer cheese. I had a big craving for Indian food after a patient told me about Mother India, and it needed to be satisfied! This roti was less spicy than the one from Gandhi's, and the dough more malleable.* Gandhi's (big photo on the left side): These rotis involved bigger chunks of paneer, less "filler" of potato, and brighter green spinach. The only downside was that the stew was a little salty for my taste. It was also a giant serving, which I demolished... and felt sick after.

Ah, Indian food. When I lived in Kathmandu, Nepal, palak paneer was my go-to meal. Savoury, rich spinach stew, studded with chewy chunks of paneer cheese, there’s nothing to hate about it. In fact, saag paneer was one of my #1 favourite things about Toronto. I visited three Indian places:

Banjara (plate, with naan bread on the right): I loved their vegetarian platter, which came with curry-spiced rice, vegetable pakora, lentil dahl, palak paneer, rice pudding, and aloo gobi(cauliflower and potato curry). This came with generously-buttered naan, and the variety in this meal was a lovely surprise. I loved all of the flavours, particularly the palak paneer, which had extra onion. Would highly recommend Banjara to anyone looking for a different dinner experience.

Mother India (little photo in the middle, on the bottom): This roti from Mother India on Queen West was stuffed with pureed spinach, tender potatoes, and some chunks of paneer cheese. I had a big craving for Indian food after a patient told me about Mother India, and it needed to be satisfied! This roti was less spicy than the one from Gandhi’s, and the dough more malleable.

Gandhi’s (big photo on the left side): These rotis involved bigger chunks of paneer, less “filler” of potato, and brighter green spinach. The only downside was that the stew was a little salty for my taste. It was also a giant serving, which I demolished… and felt sick after.

Venezuela: El Arepazo

El Arepazo is a surprisingly large Kensington Market eatery, dedicated to the arepa. Arepas, a staple of Venezuelan and Columbian cuisine, are round, gluten-free cornbread sandwiches. Fried or baked, they are sliced crosswise like a pita bread and stuffed generously with all kinds of vegetables, salsas, beans, hot sauce, cheese, and meats. My arepa, called "Veggie The Works", was stuffed to the max with avocado, tomato, crispy fried plantains, melted queso fresco, and black beans. The fried plantains were my favourite part, and I noticed that the queso tasted like halloumi. I had to eat this sandwich with a fork because it wouldn't stay up, and as I neared the end of the sandwich, there was at least 1/4 of an avocado smashed in there. It was a fantastic sandwich made with truly fresh ingredients, but next time I will add a sprinkle of salt and some hot sauce.

El Arepazo is a surprisingly large Kensington Market eatery, dedicated to the arepa. Arepas, a staple of Venezuelan and Columbian cuisine, are round, gluten-free cornbread sandwiches. Fried or baked, they are sliced crosswise like a pita bread and stuffed generously with all kinds of vegetables, salsas, beans, hot sauce, cheese, and meats. My arepa, called “Veggie The Works”, was stuffed to the max with avocado, tomato, crispy fried plantains, melted queso fresco, and black beans. The fried plantains were my favourite part, and I noticed that the queso tasted like halloumi. I had to eat this sandwich with a fork because it wouldn’t stay up, and as I neared the end of the sandwich, there was at least 1/4 of an avocado smashed in there. It was a fantastic sandwich made with truly fresh ingredients, but next time I will add a sprinkle of salt and some hot sauce.

Ethiopia: Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant

I am the least coordinated person in the world. Eating this, at Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant, was a struggle because my fingers have a hard time tearing, scooping, and wrapping. Throughout the meal, I wished for a fork and knife. Despite my lack of coordination, I loved the collard greens, split peas, lentils, chickpeas, and vegetables. The "base" of the meal is an injera, which is a flatbread from East Africa. It is made with sourdough and has a distinct sour flavour, paired with a foamy, sponge-like texture. It is a national dish in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and is commonly made of teff flour or wheat flour. It's hard to tell in these photos, but this meal was massive - and came with another injera (no toppings) on a different plate. Also, if you go with a friend, there is an option to get "enough for two", which involves an even bigger injera and more toppings.

I am the least coordinated person in the world. Eating this, at Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant, was a struggle because my fingers have a hard time tearing, scooping, and wrapping. Throughout the meal, I wished for a fork and knife. Despite my lack of coordination, I loved the collard greens, split peas, lentils, chickpeas, and vegetables. The “base” of the meal is an injera, which is a flatbread from East Africa. It is made with sourdough and has a distinct sour flavour, paired with a foamy, sponge-like texture. It is a national dish in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and is commonly made of teff flour or wheat flour. It’s hard to tell in these photos, but this meal was massive – and came with another injera (no toppings) on a different plate.

Also, if you go with a friend, there is an option to get “enough for two”, which involves an even bigger injera and more toppings.

Egypt: Maha’s

I know I said that I wouldn't judge the food based on anything other than the food itself, but you should probably know that I waited for an hour and a half for this meal. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon, and fellow brunchers were waiting outside. The clock moved super slowly, and I watched as diners took their sweet time and people behind me in the line-up walked away to get Pizza Pizza.You can probably guess that by the time I was seated, my expectations were sky-high. Maha's, however, did not disappoint. I didn't hesitate to order some Egyptian black tea and the Cairo Classic, a traditional breakfast dish with fava beans with tomatoes and onions, sliced hard-boiled egg, a falafel, a scoop of homemade feta cheese with tomato, balady bread (Egyptian flatbread, with two layers that can be torn), and salata baladi (Egyptian salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers). The foole, mashed fava bean stew, was spiced beautifully, and paired so well with the charred balady bread, crispy falafel, and fresh vegetable relish. Their menu is quite extensive, with all kinds of delicious dishes like date grilled cheese and vegan lentil soup.My only complaint, aside from the long wait? More falafel, please! Definitely one of the best I've ever had.

I know I said that I wouldn’t judge the food based on anything other than the food itself, but you should probably know that I waited for an hour and a half for this meal. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon, and fellow brunchers were waiting outside. The clock moved super slowly, and I watched as diners took their sweet time and people behind me in the line-up walked away to get Pizza Pizza.

You can probably guess that by the time I was seated, my expectations were sky-high. Maha’s, however, did not disappoint. I didn’t hesitate to order some Egyptian black tea and the Cairo Classic, a traditional breakfast dish with fava beans with tomatoes and onions, sliced hard-boiled egg, a falafel, a scoop of homemade feta cheese with tomato, baladybread (Egyptian flatbread, with two layers that can be torn), and salata baladi (Egyptian salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers). The foole, mashed fava bean stew, was spiced beautifully, and paired so well with the charred balady bread, crispy falafel, and fresh vegetable relish. Their menu is quite extensive, with all kinds of delicious dishes like date grilled cheese and vegan lentil soup.

My only complaint, aside from the long wait? More falafel, please! Definitely one of the best I’ve ever had.

Russia: The Tempered Room

кулебя́ка, or coulibiac, is a Russian puff pastry filled with salmon, rice/buckwheat, hard-boiled eggs, mushrooms, onions, and dill. At The Tempered Room, the coulibiac was given a special twist and filled with flaked trout instead of salmon, and quinoa instead of rice. There was also kale inside - not sure how authentic that is.Because I went a little crazy (it is a patisserie, after all), I bought lots of croissants and a tea latte, so I just ate half of the coulibiac. I thoroughly enjoyed each bite of this unique pastry, and thought all the flavours worked well together. The trout was cooked just-right, and the pastry crisp and buttery.

кулебя́ка, or coulibiac, is a Russian puff pastry filled with salmon, rice/buckwheat, hard-boiled eggs, mushrooms, onions, and dill. At The Tempered Room, the coulibiac was given a special twist and filled with flaked trout instead of salmon, and quinoa instead of rice. There was also kale inside – not sure how authentic that is.

Because I went a little crazy (it is a patisserie, after all), I bought lots of croissants and a tea latte, so I just ate half of the coulibiac. I thoroughly enjoyed each bite of this unique pastry, and thought all the flavours worked well together. The trout was cooked just-right, and the pastry crisp and buttery.

Philippines: Platito Filipino Soul Food

If there's one thing about Toronto that beats Vancouver and Waterloo by a mile, it's the existence of BlogTO. There are too many good things I could say about BlogTO, but perhaps my favourite thing is that BlogTO publishes annual lists: the 'Best Of' lists, which involve anything from shawarma shops to stationery stores. But that's not the point. BlogTO also creates little trailer-like videos that showcase new restaurants, and Platito Filipino Soul Food caught my eye right away.This is the ginataang hipon, which featured crispy fried shrimp (in the shell, which I wasn’t a big fan of), green beans, fried squash, coconut milk, and squash puree. After the entree, I couldn't control my excitement about the ube waffle. Ube, which I learned is pronounced 'oo-bay', is mashed purple yam. The waffle was topped with more ube ice cream and macapuno, which is a type of coconut with chewy, jelly-like strands. Online reviews were adamant about how the ube waffle was overrated and unexceptional, but I beg to differ. This dessert, as confirmed by my lovely food-loving coworker, was perfectly-cooked. It struck the balance between sweet and salty, creamy and chewy, hot and cold. It's meant for two people, but trust me, you won't want to share. I would sit in a car for 1.5 hours to drive back to Toronto for one of these.

If there’s one thing about Toronto that beats Vancouver and Waterloo by a mile, it’s the existence of BlogTO. There are too many good things I could say about BlogTO, but perhaps my favourite thing is that BlogTO publishes annual lists: the ‘Best Of’ lists, which involve anything from shawarma shops to stationery stores. But that’s not the point. BlogTO also creates little trailer-like videos that showcase new restaurants, and Platito Filipino Soul Foodcaught my eye right away.

This is the ginataang hipon, which featured crispy fried shrimp (in the shell, which I wasn’t a big fan of), green beans, fried squash, coconut milk, and squash puree. After the entree, I couldn’t control my excitement about the ube waffle. Ube, which I learned is pronounced ‘oo-bay’, is mashed purple yam. The waffle was topped with more ube ice cream and macapuno, which is a type of coconut with chewy, jelly-like strands. Online reviews were adamant about how the ube waffle was overrated and unexceptional, but I beg to differ. This dessert, as confirmed by my lovely food-loving coworker, was perfectly-cooked. It struck the balance between sweet and salty, creamy and chewy, hot and cold. It’s meant for two people, but trust me, you won’t want to share. I would sit in a car for 1.5 hours to drive back to Toronto for one of these.

Hungary: Eva’s Original Chimneys

Speaking of BlogTO, I also found out about Eva's Original Chimneys through their Facebook page. Located on Bloor and surprisingly cashless, Eva's Original Chimneys is super popular with locals and tourists. I visited mid-January, and the line was already extending out the door and onto Bloor. Known by most Torontonians as "donut cones", these treats are actually Kürtőskalács (Hungarian), or "Chimneys" in English. The dough itself is crispy on the outside, yet fluffy and tender inside. It was fun to twist the dough outwards, in a spiral, as I devoured the ice cream. This was a large serving and reminded me of a carnival, probably because of the generous sprinkle of cinnamon sugar with a touch of salt. I was sad to find people eating just half, and then throwing it out - don't do that! There's a big chocolate truffle ball at the bottom of the cone, serving as a plug so the soft serve doesn't drip through the apex of the cone.

Speaking of BlogTO, I also found out about Eva’s Original Chimneys through their Facebook page. Located on Bloor and surprisingly cashless, Eva’s Original Chimneys is super popular with locals and tourists. I visited mid-January, and the line was already extending out the door and onto Bloor. Known by most Torontonians as “donut cones”, these treats are actually Kürtőskalács (Hungarian), or “Chimneys” in English. The dough itself is crispy on the outside, yet fluffy and tender inside. It was fun to twist the dough outwards, in a spiral, as I devoured the ice cream. This was a large serving and reminded me of a carnival, probably because of the generous sprinkle of cinnamon sugar with a touch of salt. I was sad to find people eating just half, and then throwing it out – don’t do that! There’s a big chocolate truffle ball at the bottom of the cone, serving as a plug so the soft serve doesn’t drip through the apex of the cone.

Iran: Pomegranate Restaurant

This was the Fesenjaan from Pomegranate Restaurant on College Street. It was a smooth, rich stew of ground walnuts and pomegranate syrup, studded with boneless chicken breast and topped with pomegranate seeds and slivered almonds. With the stew, there was a "relish" made of chopped cucumbers and onion, basmati rice with a scoop of saffron rice, and lightly-dressed greens. I have never tasted a flavour quite like the stew, and loved how it blended sour and nutty flavours. This tasted great with the rice, but I wish there was more of the saffron rice.For dessert, I tried the ice cream topped with rosewater and rose petals, pomegranate, and more pistachios. The ice cream was a bit hard and too icy for my taste (I like my ice cream melty!), and the rose flavour was disappointing.

This was the Fesenjaan from Pomegranate Restaurant on College Street. It was a smooth, rich stew of ground walnuts and pomegranate syrup, studded with boneless chicken breast and topped with pomegranate seeds and slivered almonds. With the stew, there was a “relish” made of chopped cucumbers and onion, basmati rice with a scoop of saffron rice, and lightly-dressed greens. I have never tasted a flavour quite like the stew, and loved how it blended sour and nutty flavours. This tasted great with the rice, but I wish there was more of the saffron rice.

For dessert, I tried the ice cream topped with rosewater and rose petals, pomegranate, and more pistachios. The ice cream was a bit hard and too icy for my taste (I like my ice cream melty!), and the rose flavour was disappointing.

Portugal: Carousel Bakery

The St. Lawrence market is a must-see for anyone touring Toronto, and these custard tarts and probably the second most famous food to enjoy there (followed by the peameal sandwich). I thoroughly enjoyed this custard tart from Carousel Bakery, which was flaky and charred outside, yet tender and creamy inside. I would have eaten ten of these, and would highly recommend it.

The St. Lawrence market is a must-see for anyone touring Toronto, and these custard tarts and probably the second most famous food to enjoy there (followed by the peameal sandwich). I thoroughly enjoyed this custard tart from Carousel Bakery, which was flaky and charred outside, yet tender and creamy inside. I would have eaten ten of these, and would highly recommend it.

Japan: Tsujiri, Millie, Miku

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I never carry my wallet with me, and the reason is simple: I can't be trusted with money when there are ice cream stores near by. Tsujiri is a famous matcha ice cream store on University/Dundas, directly across the street from where I worked. The menu is loaded with a variety of drinks, sundaes, and small baked goods. I love their sundaes and have tried them all, and my favourites include the ones with cornflakes, red bean, shiratama (rice balls), and matcha chiffon cake. The sakura blossom cookie in the first picture was oddly salty, but paired well with the subtle sweetness of the matcha and vanilla. I always ordered the 50/50 vanilla swirled with matcha, but they recently swapped out the vanilla for hojicha, which is a type of Japanese green tea roasted over charcoal.Millie desserts are also delightfully Japanese with a twist. I adore their crepe cakes, which they are known for, but the black sesame gelato and coconut gelato will hit the spot for any gelato purist who loves unique flavours.Finally, Miku! Expanding from the Vancouver location and known for their upscale, contemporary sushi dishes, Miku was another one of my top spots for a Winterlicious meal. I enjoyed octopus tartare, flame-seared aburi sushi, and the tastiest ebi fritter. Overall, a fantastic meal with a classy twist.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I never carry my wallet with me, and the reason is simple: I can’t be trusted with money when there are ice cream stores near by. Tsujiri is a famous matcha ice cream store on University/Dundas, directly across the street from where I worked. The menu is loaded with a variety of drinks, sundaes, and small baked goods. I love their sundaes and have tried them all, and my favourites include the ones with cornflakes, red bean, shiratama (rice balls), and matcha chiffon cake. The sakura blossom cookie in the first picture was oddly salty, but paired well with the subtle sweetness of the matcha and vanilla. I always ordered the 50/50 vanilla swirled with matcha, but they recently swapped out the vanilla for hojicha, which is a type of Japanese green tea roasted over charcoal.

Millie desserts are also delightfully Japanese with a twist. I adore their crepe cakes, which they are known for, but the black sesame gelato and coconut gelato will hit the spot for any gelato purist who loves unique flavours.

Finally, Miku! Expanding from the Vancouver location and known for their upscale, contemporary sushi dishes, Miku was another one of my top spots for a Winterlicious meal. I enjoyed octopus tartare, flame-seared aburi sushi, and the tastiest ebi fritter. Overall, a fantastic meal with a classy twist.

Belgium: Petit Déjeuner

Ah, my first restaurant experience in Toronto! Described by Google to be a "brick-lined bistro serving Belgian-Canadian comfort food made with seasonal ingredients all day", Le Petit Déjeuner has plenty of weekly specials and an extensive, customizable menu. I was debating between two dishes, this one and the "Apple and Brie Panino" with slices of matsu apple, dijon and melted brie, but I think I made the right choice. These authentic Belgian waffles were airy and light, with subtle sweetness that paired well with the runny poached egg, sour coleslaw, and sharp, savoury salmon.

Ah, my first restaurant experience in Toronto! Described by Google to be a “brick-lined bistro serving Belgian-Canadian comfort food made with seasonal ingredients all day”, Le Petit Déjeuner has plenty of weekly specials and an extensive, customizable menu. I was debating between two dishes, this one and the “Apple and Brie Panino” with slices of matsu apple, dijon and melted brie, but I think I made the right choice. These authentic Belgian waffles were airy and light, with subtle sweetness that paired well with the runny poached egg, sour coleslaw, and sharp, savoury salmon.

Poland: Café Polonez

One patient at the Toronto Health Centre, a gentle Polish lady, always told me about how she cooks her own cabbage rolls and mixes up her own pierogies. I was super envious, but quickly realized that living in Toronto meant that I, too, could enjoy some incredible Polish food! Cafe Polonez in Roncesvalles is a homey, family-run establishment with quite an extensive menu. They have a different soup special for each day of the week, and are known for their famous pierogies.I've had pierogies before, and these were just as delicious, filled with cheddar and mushrooms. As usual, they reminded me of Chinese jiaozi or Nepalese momos. I loved the addition of sour cream, and the freshness of the pierogies was noticeable. My potato pancakes had the best crispy edges, and was not too salty. Of course, the cabbage roll was equally tasty. Mine was topped with a mushroom gravy, and filled with wild rice and minced mushrooms. The menu calls this dish Golabki nadziewane grzybami, w sosie grzybowym.

One patient at the Toronto Health Centre, a gentle Polish lady, always told me about how she cooks her own cabbage rolls and mixes up her own pierogies. I was super envious, but quickly realized that living in Toronto meant that I, too, could enjoy some incredible Polish food! Cafe Polonez in Roncesvalles is a homey, family-run establishment with quite an extensive menu. They have a different soup special for each day of the week, and are known for their famous pierogies.

I’ve had pierogies before, and these were just as delicious, filled with cheddar and mushrooms. As usual, they reminded me of Chinese jiaozi or Nepalese momos. I loved the addition of sour cream, and the freshness of the pierogies was noticeable. My potato pancakes had the best crispy edges, and was not too salty. Of course, the cabbage roll was equally tasty. Mine was topped with a mushroom gravy, and filled with wild rice and minced mushrooms. The menu calls this dish Golabki nadziewane grzybami, w sosie grzybowym.

Chile: Jumbo Empanadas

Empanadas, which originated in Spain or Portugal, are stuffed pastries that are baked or fried. The Spanish verb "empanar" means "to wrap, or to coat with bread". Empanadas are essentially a pocket of dough folded over stuffing, which may be cheese, meat, or vegetables. Jumbo Empanadas have great, CHEAP empanadas, cute Chilean pastries, and various other Chilean eats. I also tried a humita, which, as Wikipedia tells me, is a Native American dish from pre-Hispanic times, consisting of masa harina and corn, steamed or boiled in water. I loved the simplicity of the humita, which was fresh and sweet and tasted incredible with the acidic salsa.

Empanadas, which originated in Spain or Portugal, are stuffed pastries that are baked or fried. The Spanish verb “empanar” means “to wrap, or to coat with bread”. Empanadas are essentially a pocket of dough folded over stuffing, which may be cheese, meat, or vegetables. Jumbo Empanadas have great, CHEAP empanadas, cute Chilean pastries, and various other Chilean eats. I also tried a humita, which, as Wikipedia tells me, is a Native American dish from pre-Hispanic times, consisting of masa harina and corn, steamed or boiled in water. I loved the simplicity of the humita, which was fresh and sweet and tasted incredible with the acidic salsa.

Italy: Mattacchioni, G for Gelato

Gelato falls under a category called 'Cindy's Top 3 Biggest Weaknesses'. As in, if I see a gelato store, I'm going in and coming out with at least two scoops. This one, from G for Gelato, satisfied my craving during one long walk. I ordered two scoops here: one being the chocolate almond fudge, and another being pistachio-walnut. Sweet, chocolatey, and nutty flavours are the ideal match, in my opinion, so this cup of gelato nailed it.Mattachioni is a cozy spot known for authentic Neapolitan pizzas. I ordered the apollonia, which was topped with fresh mozzarella, basil, tomatoes, arugula, and fresh stracciatella. I learned that stracciatella is a creamy cheese produced by Italian buffalo milk. I enjoyed cannoli (Italian pastries, literally meaning "little tube") for the first time, and thought it was fantastic. The creamy filling was flavoured with lemon, and contrasted well with the bubbly, golden-brown fried shell.

Gelato falls under a category called ‘Cindy’s Top 3 Biggest Weaknesses’. As in, if I see a gelato store, I’m going in and coming out with at least two scoops. This one, from G for Gelato, satisfied my craving during one long walk. I ordered two scoops here: one being the chocolate almond fudge, and another being pistachio-walnut. Sweet, chocolatey, and nutty flavours are the ideal match, in my opinion, so this cup of gelato nailed it.

Mattachioni is a cozy spot known for authentic Neapolitan pizzas. I ordered the apollonia, which was topped with fresh mozzarella, basil, tomatoes, arugula, and fresh stracciatella. I learned that stracciatella is a creamy cheese produced by Italian buffalo milk. I enjoyed cannoli (Italian pastries, literally meaning “little tube”) for the first time, and thought it was fantastic. The creamy filling was flavoured with lemon, and contrasted well with the bubbly, golden-brown fried shell.

America: Sweet Olenka’s, Bakerbots, Barque Smokehouse

I ate my weight in gelato and ice cream during my time in Toronto with no regrets! Two of my top dessert places include Bakerbots and Sweet Olenka’s. At Sweet Olenka's, I devoured a scoop of chocolate Oreo ice cream, and a scoop of vegan salted caramel, which was made with coconut milk. Bakerbots, less than a block off Bloor, is a quiet, petite cafe known for creative ice cream flavours and freshly-baked cookies. It’s a DIY-sort of place, where you can choose your cookie and two scoops for the filling. I selected the caramelized peanut butter cookie, a scoop of totarn (ube, or purple yam) ice cream, and a scoop of cinnamon toast ice cream. With the chewy, crisp-at-the-edges peanut butter cookie and rich, flavourful ice cream, I have to admit that this is one of the Top 3 desserts I’ve ever tasted in my life.Another day, I enjoyed a phenomenal brunch at Barque Smokehouse, where I enjoyed cornbread topped with citrus-smoked salmon, two poached eggs, and BBQ hollandaise, the crispiest roast potatoes, and a kale salad with carrots, cabbage, and pear.

I ate my weight in gelato and ice cream during my time in Toronto with no regrets! Two of my top dessert places include Bakerbots and Sweet Olenka’s. At Sweet Olenka’s, I devoured a scoop of chocolate Oreo ice cream, and a scoop of vegan salted caramel, which was made with coconut milk. Bakerbots, less than a block off Bloor, is a quiet, petite cafe known for creative ice cream flavours and freshly-baked cookies. It’s a DIY-sort of place, where you can choose your cookie and two scoops for the filling. I selected the caramelized peanut butter cookie, a scoop of totarn (ube, or purple yam) ice cream, and a scoop of cinnamon toast ice cream. With the chewy, crisp-at-the-edges peanut butter cookie and rich, flavourful ice cream, I have to admit that this is one of the Top 3 desserts I’ve ever tasted in my life.

Another day, I enjoyed a phenomenal brunch at Barque Smokehouse, where I enjoyed cornbread topped with citrus-smoked salmon, two poached eggs, and BBQ hollandaise, the crispiest roast potatoes, and a kale salad with carrots, cabbage, and pear.

 

What will my next food adventure be?

My eat-around-the-world experience, although incomplete, gave me valuable insight into the rich and diverse culture of many countries I hadn’t considered before. I can’t wait to try cuisines from even more countries, including Sri Lanka, Haiti, Hawaii, and Romania…

 

Any thoughts? What are your favourite “unique” eats from around the world?

Fact: You can never have enough delicious food.

The Tiniest Asparagus

Hello! Lately, my agenda has been full of exciting activities. This week is O-Fest, which means there are plenty of introductory sessions that welcome students to the University of Queensland. Next week, it is CONNECT Week, so there are free fitness sessions and other activities designed to help students find friends with common interests. You can see my trusty planner (a kind gift from my sister, Seline) along with my morning cheddar scrambled eggs with mushrooms. Also, my laptop stand is truly a gift!

I got to see some cool animals. Check out this dwarf crocodile, which is ten years old, and this male owl. I had the opportunity to pet both of them, and they are really cute. This was organized by the QUEST Society at UQ. QUEST stands for the Queensland University Exchange Student Society.

The UQ campus is really beautiful, complete with museums (art, geology, and more), a Great Court, and so much more. I love it. Even though I get lost on an hourly basis.

There’s a grocery store called Fruity Capers in the local mall, and they sell the most amazing little vegetables I’ve ever seen. Check out these teeny tiny asparagus, which were about the length of my wrist to fingertips. They are so cute, and cooked in a minute. I put them in my scrambled eggs, which you can see below. I like these tiny asparagus more than large (regular?) asparagus, because they don’t have stalky ends and cook much quicker.

Another afternoon, I happened to pass a place called Noosa Chocolate Factory. They are famous for a massive selection single origin, single plantation & blended slabs delivered fresh daily from the Noosa Chocolate Factory, fine specialty coffee, and rustic hot chocolates. Of course, I had to try one of their renowned drinks! The 35-degree temperature, however, gave me the opportunity to try their iced chocolate drink. This one, which was 56% cocoa, was sweet-but-not-overly-sweet, icy, and had such a rich chocolate taste. No phony stuff here!

In other words, I’m in love. Can I live here? And eat chocolate for the rest of my semester?

Afterwards, I went for a little stroll around this lovely area of Brisbane. There were plenty of souvenir shops, and I loved looking at the lit-up bridges as I walked down the river.

At this grocery store, there are always fresh fruit samples. Next time, I want to try their homemade banana bread! Banana bread is, and always will be, one of my weaknesses. I just want to toast it up and smother it all in peanut butter.

On Friday, I had a day off! No orientation events, no classes, no commitments, nothing. The day before, I created a detailed plan of activities and events that I wanted to attend, but when Friday rolled around, I was so tired (and hot!) that I didn’t want to do anything. I ended up relaxing at home, cooking, and spending time in the downtown area.

IMG_6258

More eats:

  • 2 plates of buffet food: coleslaw, pasta salad, goat cheese spinach salad, melon, cheese, carrots, gratin potatoes, omelet with squash, onion, vegetables, roasted squash and sweet potatoes, crispy fried pita bread (a wonderful Chinese New Year feast with my landlord’s family)

  • breakfast on the bottom right:
    • 2 scrambled eggs with broccoli, cheddar and gruyere
    • vanilla Greek yogurt with 1/2 container blueberries, 1/3 packet pecan butter

I spent the next day strolling around one of my favourite parts of the city, and had the opportunity to visit Morning After Cafe. My dish was absolutely spectacular, and I added halloumi on the side. I’m in love with halloumi!

  • red pepper, eggplant, and onion sauté, cucumber with labneh and dill, fried egg, halloumi, paprika oil

Dessert at Gelato Messina was quite eventful. Their menu was enormous, and you can get three scoops of three flavours in one cup. How could I resist that? After sampling a few, I decided on:

  • 1 scoop pistachio praline, 1 scoop white chocolate hazelnut, 1 scoop milk chocolate peanut butter fudge gelato

All together in a large-sized cup, this dessert was an absolute dream. To be honest, the flavours were on the sweeter side (thanks to the white chocolate, praline, and fudge), and I would’ve preferred the sweetness to be dialled down a little. Nonetheless, delicious!

Few things from recently:

  • This beautiful post by Bucket List Tummy discusses reasons why one should never diet, and is worded in such a clear, inspiring, beautiful way.
  • One of my favourite pairs figure skating teams (Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany) won the event. I was super happy because their performance was flawless, and this was Aliona’s fifth and final Olympics. Are you following the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea? Which events are you interested in?
  • 56 different names for sugar – interesting!

That is pretty much all I have for today. I hope the rest of your week is wonderful!