Last Week in Australia

Hello! Happy Canada Day, or happy fourth of July. My sister and I are now in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (Eastern Canada), and I am writing this from the University of Prince Edward Island. My sister and I had a fantastic time in Toronto, and then a good night in Charlottetown, so I have even more photos that I’ve yet to upload. Before I show you some of the delicious eats that I enjoyed during my last week of Australia, here is a list of the activities I did, and the cafes I visited, during my four months in Australia.

Me with my landlord; vacuuming the yoga studio for the last time; delicious meal of veggies, halloumi, scrambled eggs, and falafel

List of Things I Did and Ate in Australia

FOOD-RELATED PLACES I VISITED

  • Cat and Fiddle Deli Cafe in Toowong
  • Jocelyn’s Provisions
  • Pearl Cafe
  • Mu’ooz
  • MADO Cafe and Restaurant
  • Fogata Latin Fusion
  • Anouk
  • Tartufo
  • Gauge
  • Crust & Co. Bakery
  • Harveys
  • She Bangs
  • Pourboy Espresso
  • Sourced Grocer
  • Morning After
  • Banneton
  • A Night In India
  • Corner Store Cafe
  • Campos Coffee
  • Bakers Arms
  • Chouquette
  • John Mills Himself
  • Abode Cafe
  • Bunker Coffee
  • Three Monkeys Coffee House
  • Nitrogenie
  • Pawpaw Restaurant
  • The Gunshop Cafe

FUN-RELATED PLACES I VISITED

  • Cultural Centre
  • Gallery of Modern Art
  • Queensland Performing Arts Centre
  • State Library of Queensland
  • Queensland Art Gallery
  • Queensland Museum
  • City Hall Clock Tower
  • Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens
  • City Cat ferry down Brisbane River
  • Roma Street Parkland
  • Museum of Brisbane
  • New Farm Park
  • Brisbane River walk
  • Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre
  • South Bank
  • Milton Sunday Market
  • Jan Powers Farmers Market: Powerhouse Market, City Farmers Market
  • Wheel of Brisbane
  • Streets Beach, Little Stanley Boutiques
  • Davies Park Farmers Market
  • City Botanic Gardens
  • Suncorp Stadium
  • Queen Street Mall
  • Eagle Street Pier
  • Anzac Square
  • City Centre Heritage Trail
  • BrisAsia Festival
  • Avid Reader Bookstore
  • Woolloongabba Antique Centre
  • West End (shopping)
  • Paddington
  • Science Centre
  • Fortitude Valley nooks, like Bakery Lane

Now, here are some of the things that I wanted to do. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to doing these activities or eating at these restaurants. I suppose that means I’ll have to come back to Australia in the future.

IF I HAD ANOTHER WEEK, I WOULD SEE:

  • Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
  • Eat Street Northshore Market
  • Sherwood Arboretum
  • Noosa Heads
  • Mount Coot-tha lookout
  • Story Bridge Adventure Climb
  • Spring Hill Baths
  • Australia Zoo
  • Kangaroo Point Cliffs Walk
  • Brisbane Maritime Museum
  • Moreton Bay snorkelling at Tangalooma wrecks, whale-watching

IF I HAD ANOTHER WEEK, I WOULD EAT:

  • Ecco Bistro
  • Naim
  • Cafe O Mai
  • Wild Canary
  • Lady Marmalade
  • Goodness Gracious
  • GOMA Restaurant
  • Julius Pizzeria
  • Popolo
  • Longtime
  • Merriweather Cafe
  • Marchetti Cafe
  • Double Shot New Farm
  • Gettin’ Place
  • The Yiros Shop
  • Corbette and Claude
  • King Arthur Cafe
  • The Cheese Pleaser
  • Billy Kart Kitchen
  • Flour and Chocolate Patisserie
  • Sassafras Canteen
  • Jam Pantry
  • Gertrude and Mabel
  • Scout Cafe
  • Miss Bliss Whole Foods Restaurant
  • Let Minnow
  • Lokal & Co.

This was one of the last, and most delicious things, I ate at Pearl Cafe. It was a sticky date loaf topped with date buttercream, poached pears, and honeycomb ice cream. It was a dreamy dessert with all the richness and fresh sweetness I could ask for. The ice cream, paired with soft pears and date loaf, was superb.

One weekend morning, I went to the University of Queensland yoga festival, where there were tons of food and clothes vendors, a corner for meditation, and a large outdoors yoga class. The sunny weather was perfect for some zen-time, and I enjoyed watching the yogis with a small cup of Blackdog vegan chai made with soy milk. Then, I said goodbye to the UQ campus!

You guys! How amazing does this look? From Nodo donuts, I enjoyed this homemade brioche bread topped with beet-cured salmon, a soft egg, dill foam, greens, yuzu pearls, and sorrel. The flavours were extraordinary, and it was hands-down the most unique eggs benedict-type meal I’ve ever enjoyed. I wish there was more, because that buttery toasted brioche was heavenly with a smear of brown butter hollandaise, and all the flavourful toppings. I will think about this forever.

I also had a small cup of chai and a delicious baked cheesecake with mixed berries. The crust (gluten-free) is so good, and I dare say it’s better than any gluten-containing crust I could imagine. It has a light nutty flavour that I love.

A lot of lists and schedules were made.

Goodbye, beautiful, beautiful Brisbane! The sunset was glorious one evening, and another day, Seline graduated from high school. The last image is from her commencement, where she received two big awards. The entire family was very proud of her, and she was simultaneously shocked and thrilled.

From Anouk Cafe, I loved their salmon pot pie with herb gremolata and arugula salad. For dessert, I had a buttery apple almond flour cake with sliced almonds on top, and two generous vanilla ice cream scoops. This is my favourite kind of dessert – a little fruity, made with almond meal, warm, and served with plenty of ice cream.

Another day, I had a Pearl Cafe strawberry shortcake cake, which was incredibly buttery and delicious. The strawberry jam, sandwiched between shortcake layers, provided plenty of fruity, summery flavour.

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Campos Coffee for lunch: mushroom risotto with roasted chestnuts and smoked cheese. I don’t have risotto as much as I’d like, because ravioli and gnocchi always seem more appealing, but this was divine. The smoked cheese on top was slightly melted and had such a sharp flavour that paired beautifully with the creamy rice. For dessert, I loved the peanut butter chocolate brownie, which came with raspberry puree, whipped cream, and two scoops of unpictured vanilla ice cream. The peanut butter swirl here was THICK!

One Sunday afternoon, I went to Brisbane’s Art Gallery. It was a beautiful, serene, thought-provoking place with many galleries that I thoroughly enjoyed. These were some of my favourites. The Garden of Narcissus was one of my favourites (it’s the one with the mirrored orbs on the water). According to the Queensland Art Gallery blog: clusters and constellations are formed, reflecting the building’s architecture back onto itself from an infinite number of angles. Not unlike the myth, there is a dreamy yet sinister aspect to the work — it mesmerises at the same time that it forces one to look away. I love how it blends art with architecture.

Lovely meal at home: a mix of salads, including my favourite with roasted cauliflower and date, and some quiche. One of them is a homemade tart with spinach and truffled goat cheese, and the others were purchased from Botanica. I am going to miss their quiche (the crispy, flavourful crust is unbelievable) so much.

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Finally, I had a wonderful time at aerials before I left. When packing for the plane ride, I looked at these two websites, which informed me which healthy things I could bring onto the plane. Very exciting! Then, before I knew it, I was back in Canada. 🙂

Finally, a list that I’ve been working on, ever since I arrived in Australia!

Things I Liked About My Time in Australia

  • Class and campus
    • Play area on campus for children, like a day care, whose parents are in class
    • Cover page scanner for academic submissions
    • Lecture automatically recorded and uploaded to Blackboard
    • UQ Library website has previous course exams for the last five years
    • Classes are smaller, with about 30-50 students
    • Classes are more interactive, with discussions, debates, word banks
    • Professors and other speakers honour Indigenous people, the traditional owners of the land
    • 15 libraries on campus, and many of them are open 24 hours
    • Sleeping pods in the libraries
    • Buildings are numbered, and there are signs that direct you to different buildings
    • Classes are broadcasted on a screen outside the lecture hall, so you can always be sure that you are entering the correct room
    • UQ Nav app so I don’t get lost on campus
    • Professors and other university staff answer their emails very clearly, promptly, politely
    • Many microwaves and kitchenettes
    • Largest, most beautiful campus ever!
    • Many food options on campus, and open from morning until evening (including Chatime)
    • Free ice cream during O-Fest (Orientation Week)
    • All readings are available online; do not need to purchase textbook
  • Transport
    • Excellent bike lanes, bicycle lights, pedestrian areas
    • Slow for SAM (Speeding Awareness Monitors) on small roads with a smiley face
    • Bus times projected on screens
    • Large number of buses that go everywhere
    • Stops are numbered
    • It is very clear which buses go where
    • Bus drivers are kind and interact with passengers
    • People line up to take the bus, rather than crowding around the stop
    • Bus drivers wait until everyone is seated
    • Trains have U-shaped poles, so there is extra room for guide dogs
    • Trains have security and a lot of workers supervising
    • Trains have very cushy, comfortable seats
  • No allergies at all (no sneezing, no runny nose)
  • Because it’s so hot, I sweat a lot and my pimples disappeared
  • Super colourful birds with very vibrant colours
  • Mats at C!RCA training centre are very clean
  • Farmers markets (~15-20 per week?): over 50,000 markets, festivals, and events in Brisbane each year
  • Beautiful river with great bridges and comfortable, safe river walk
  • Foam soap that smells like soap from Princess Café
  • Free outdoor gyms for adults
  • Smaller bananas
  • Kitchens, bathrooms, etc. are more environmentally-friendly
  • Vegan market, many organic/raw/vegan restaurants, and many vegan options available in restaurants/grocery stores
  • Takeout coffee culture, so everyone has little reusable glass coffee cup that they take to cafes (many cafes have Keep Cup discounts)
  • A Night in India has kind waitresses and delicious palak paneer
  • Sun rises very early
  • Accents are occasionally tricky for me to understand, so I have to listen very carefully during lectures instead of zoning out
  • Dining outside is easier and more common, with great patios
  • Many butcher shops in malls, and many of which sell meat pies
  • Casual dress
  • Tips are incorporated into the bill, so tipping is not required
  • Tap water is drinkable, and there are water fountains everywhere
  • Many garbage cans out on the street, so there is little litter
  • People are generally very laidback, friendly
  • Wi-Fi everywhere, even on the bus
  • I have a moveable shower head
  • I live close to restaurants, shopping centres, grocery stores, and a great library
  • Tax is included in prices
  • Many seasonal fresh fruits (eg. Papayas, melons)
  • Tiny asparagus and giant blueberries
  • Farmers markets are typically cheaper than grocery stores
  • Grocery stores have massive yogurt selection
  • Vibrant colours: super blue sky, very green grass
  • Unique and beautiful plant life
  • Keys to home are not fussy; easy to use
  • Live music in the valley at night (great nightlife, and a lot of bars)
  • Time difference makes it quite easy for me to chat with family (they go to sleep around my afternoon/evening), and Mom wakes up before I go to bed
  • Excellent cafes with very unique menus
  • Laundry machine will finish washing clothes in less than 30 minutes
  • Fun vendors and booths everywhere
  • I have my own bathroom
  • Early morning yoga sessions (5:30 AM session, 6:05 AM session, 9:30 AM session)
  • There are bats outside in the evening
  • Lecturers end 30-45 minutes before they are scheduled to finish their lecture
  • At the mall, you can take the shopping carts around the entire mall
    • Shopping carts have store directories, phone slot, cup holder

Things I Disliked About My Time in Australia

  • My hair becomes greasy sooner because of the heat
  • In the rain, it is so loud when the raindrops hit the metal roof
  • Bluetooth issues
  • Lecturers alternate (eg. One class has three lecturers, another has five), with many guest lecturers
  • Difficult to find entrances to buildings on campus
  • Birds are very squawky and loud
  • Rain is spontaneous
  • Cafes do not serve tea lattes (but they do have chai!)
  • Crows may swoop down and bother cyclists, so people wear helmets with zip-ties attached to the holes of the helmet
  • Fruit can be quite expensive from Fruity Capers
  • No standing desks or standing café spots
  • Buses and train rides are expensive
  • O-Fest was not as fun as I’d expected
  • Fitness centre on campus is not free; student price for 1 drop-in pass is $14
  • Bus stops to go to campus are very busy at noon on weekdays
  • During the heat wave, had to shower twice a day from the heat
  • Water tasted mineral-y when I first arrived
  • Saturday store hours are terrible, and most close at 3-4
  • Cafes close early (2-3)
  • Many places closed on Monday
  • Random spider webs can go in your face if you walk under a tree
  • Fan at home clicks loudly
  • Need vehicle to visit cool, beautiful places near Brisbane
  • Ants in the house (very fast and smart), and cockroaches
  • Library closes very early, and is closed on Sunday
  • Some cafes don’t have bathrooms, so need to walk a few houses down to arrive at construction bathroom
  • Gets dark quite early; sun sets around 5:30
  • Some online videos are unavailable in Australia
  • Difficult to find the entrance to train stations
  • SIM card plans are complex
  • Chair at home is not very comfortable or ergonomic
  • Must hail bus drivers

Neutral Differences Between Canada and Australia

  • Most breakfast/brunch/lunch restaurants serve:
    • Milkshakes
    • Smoothies
    • Avocado
    • Halloumi
    • Chai
    • Vegemite toast
    • Sourdough
    • Golden latte (turmeric latte)
    • Beet latte, mermaid latte
    • Chai latte
    • Turkish bread
    • Flower decorations
    • Dukkah
  • Australian Polysporin = Betadine
  • Australian Restoralax = Osmolax
  • Australian Chipotle = Guzman y Gomez (GYG)
  • Australian Bed, Bath, and Beyond = Bed, Bath, and Table
  • Australian Booster Juice = Boost
  • Australian Cobs Bread = Bakers Delight
  • Australian Chapters, Coles, or Indigo = Dymocks
  • Australian Burger King = Hungry Jacks
  • Australian Lays = Smiths
  • Australian Starbucks or Tim Hortons = Merlo’s
  • Australian Rogers or Shaw = Telstra or Optus
  • Australian LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) = BWS (Beer, Wine, Spirits)
  • Australian Goodlife Fitness = 12RND (twelve round) Fitness
  • Steering wheel is on the right side, and people drive on the left side of the road
  • Thursday is the “late night”
  • GPA is out of 6 or 7
  • Very steep hills in some suburbs
  • Must push a button to get on and off a train
  • Wheelchair logo is reversed (mirrored)
  • Eating competitions held at festivals
  • High schools and malls are “outdoors”
  • Toilets have little water in them
  • Grammar-related
    • Use of ’s’ instead of ‘z’ in words (organised, fertilised, analyse)
    • Use of “ae” in words such as faeces, aetiological, paediatrics
    • No oxford comma
    • “ch” or “j” sounds instead of “t” sound (eg. Tuesday, produce, due date)
  • Australian food
    • Lamingtons and Snowdrops
    • Nougat
    • Beef jerky
    • Meat pies
    • Rocky Road
    • Macadamia
    • Tim Tams
    • Arnott’s cookies
    • Eton Mess
    • Hot dogs with white bread instead of a hot dog bun
    • Chicken parmigiana
    • Melting moments
    • Hot cross buns
    • Turkish delight
    • Sticky date pudding
  • School zones and other areas where pedestrians walk are painted
  • Eggs are not refrigerated
  • Playgrounds are shaded with a “roof” because it’s too hot
  • Pools are outdoors
  • Aboriginal names like Indooroopilly, Cooloongatta, Tangalooma, Woolloongabba
  • Tiny outlets can be turned on and off
  • Hole punches have 2 holes instead of 3
  • Many private-practice health practitioners who work out of their homes
  • Clothing-related
    • Spaghetti straps
    • Anello bags
    • School uniforms = dresses with big puffy sleeves for girls, button-ups, hats, white socks, standardized shoes and backpack
    • Colourful peasant blouses
    • Dark denim skirts
    • Flip flops or sandals
    • Bras are okay in public
    • Tote bags
    • Lorna Jane athleticwear
  • No radiators or dehumidifiers
  • Many dinner places have “banquets” which are like set dinners for 2+ people
  • Male and female bathrooms are often separate (i.e. in separate parts of a hallway)
  • Bathroom sink areas and bathroom stall areas are separated by a door
  • Many roundabouts instead of intersections
  • Lots of water dragons and geckoes
  • Separate colleges for boys and girls
  • Gum trees instead of evergreens, firs, or pines
  • Less time to cross the street
  • Sushi is pre-made and sits on the counter, uncut, so people can grab it as an on-the-go snack and eat it like a wrap
  • Walking on the right, standing/waiting on the left of an escalator
  • Some streets are also appear in Ontario: Dovercourt, King, Queen, Ann, Adelaide, Albert, Elizabeth, Edward, Morningside region
  • Traffic lights are black
  • Giant spiders that spin massive webs from tree to tree

Different Words Between Canadian English and Australian English

Canadian English Australian English
Bandaid Plasters
Whole milk Full cream milk
2% milk 98% milk
1% milk 99% milk
Outlet Power point
Duotang Folder (they use folders or clipboards)
Call Ring
Post-secondary students Tertiary students
Hashbrown Potato rosti
Darn, that sucks! Bugger
Period Full stop
A-P-A APA, pronounced “apa”
Hot flashes Hot flushes
Cotton candy Fairy floss
Raisins Sultanas
Exact change Correct money
Store hours Trading hours
Melt, or open-faced sandwich, or grilled-cheese Toastie
Tasting menu Degustation
Great Beauty
Pepper Capsicum
Sorry Soz
Coconut yogurt Coyo
Movator Travelator
Sunglasses Shades, sunnies
Fanny pack Bum bag
Elevator Lift
Pharmacy Chemist
Appetizer Entrée
Entrée Main course
Personal tent Swag
Gas station Servo, petrol station
Pass (passing someone on the road) Overtake
Eraser Rubber, or eraser pronounced ‘e-ray-zer’
Sweater Jumper
Tap (debit or credit card) Pay pass, pay way
Pay with card/machine EFTPOS (Electronic funds transfer at point of sale)
Papaya Pawpay
Kindergarten Kindy
Cafeteria Tuck shop
Area, section, or zone Precinct
Attendance Roll
Prom Formal
Math Maths
Tour Contiki
Umbrella Brolly
I believe, I think I reckon
Disaster, mess Dog’s breakfast
Tank top Singlet
Afternoon Arvo
Candy Lolly
Mosquito Mozzy
Tasmania Tassy
Brisbane Brissy
Meat pie Traveller meat pie, long pie
Drunk driving, or driving under the influence Drink driving
Biscuit Bicky
People on wheelchairs Ambulants
Washroom Toilet
Dropbox Chute
University Uni
Teaching assistant (TA) Tutor
Fries Hot chips, chips
Chips Chips
Hollow position Dish position
Streetcar Tram
Baby stroller Pram
Rent or borrow Hire (yoga mat rental = yoga mat hire)
Flashlight Torchlight
Tattle on you, tell on you Dob on you
Tattletale Dibby-dobber
Duvet Doona
Garbage Rubbish
That’s okay, no problem You’re alright (after receiving apology)
Interested Keen
Friend Mate
Whole grain Whole meal
Plants and animals Flora and fauna
Office hours Consult hours
Flip flops Thongs
How are you doing? How are you going?
Syllabus ECP (electronic course profile)
Sidewalk Footpath
Midterm exams, midterms Midsems
Water fountain Bubbler
Container Punnet
Barbecue Barbie
Curb Kerb
Green onions Eschallots
Ice box, cooler Chilly bin, esky
Hoop Lyra
Silks Tissu
Thrift store Op shop
What would you like? What are you after?
Feta Fetta
Garbage can Bin
The week after classes finish, and before exams begin (study week) Swotvac “study without tutor vacation”
Cup of coffee Cuppa
Bathing suit Togs
Avocado Avo
Cinnamon buns Scrolls
Good (in response to “how are you doing?”) Well (in response to “how are you going?”)
Redneck Bogan

Touring Toronto: From Croissants to Creepy Fish

Good morning, friends! How has 2016 been treating you so far?

My new year has been going smoothly for the most part, and I’m enjoying every second that my dad is staying here with me in Waterloo. On Saturday, we took a semi-day trip to Toronto. The journey began at 5:30 AM when we hopped into the car. The drive was long, dark, rainy, and unfamiliar, but we made it to Nadege Patisserie safely and excitedly.

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Nadege is famous for their croissants and art-like dessert pastries. They also have a large array of sandwiches, and the combinations that caught my eye included fig + goat cheese + arugula and one with smoked salmon and cucumber. The croissants were freshly baked that day, too. They open at 8:00 and we we found a parking spot at around 7:35, so it was a long and torturous wait.

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I felt like I was back in Paris, where sandwiches like these are king. Look at how those baguettes are just bursting with filling. This is about as Parisienne as it gets here in Canada!

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Macarons, petit choux, and cakes were lined like pieces of jewelry in the display counter. The colours were gorgeous! Which one would you order, if you had to choose?

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I really, really wanted one of these individual-sized cakes. How pretty are these guys? The donut looked really tasty, as did the modern pecan pie.

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They also have these alphabet chocolate bars, which came in a variety of super unique flavours, like Wasabi for W, Yuzu for Y, and Sesame for S. Dad and I were the first customers, and we took a seat near the gift display case.

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We ordered four pastries: three for me and one for dad!

Pecan pie croissant, award-winning almond croissant, and raspberry pistachio croissant and hot chocolate for me // cappuccino and chocolate croissant for Dad.

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Dad ordered the hazelnut chocolate praline croissant, which he described as flaky, layered, soft, and with a crispy crust. The chocolate was firm and not too dark. He enjoyed it and would order it again 🙂

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My breakfast was nothing short of spectacular, either! I asked for all three to be cut in half and enjoyed half of each one.

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The almond croissant was doughy and had great crisp on the outside. One thing I noted was that the inside layers of the croissant seemed to be underbaked, as the layers of puff-pastry were still clearly visible, thick, and quite chewy. It wasn’t too sweet and had a decent amount of almond paste, though I wish there was more! It was very well made and so flaky. Not one of my top 5 almond croissants, but a tasty one nonetheless. I wish I could try the chocolate almond croissant, too.

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This one was a truly special pastry. It was the #1 favourite of the lady behind the counter, and for a good reason. The pistachio paste was not too sweet and had the most “pistachio-est” flavor and a great smooth texture with teeny grains. The berries on top were clearly very fresh, and I loved how chopped pistachios on top gave it a bit of crunch.

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The pecan pie croissant is one of Nadege’s most popular. I was a little disappointed, though, to see that the filling involved only one tiny “roll” of pecan pie filling – I was expecting the pastry to be bursting with sweet nuts and brown sugar filling. My favourite part about this croissant was the crunchy caramelized pecans on top, which were drenched in a brown sugar sauce and baked until slightly charred (yum) and super crispy.

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The lady behind the counter also came to our table to give us a salted caramel macaron! I took a bite and gave the rest to Dad. We both really liked it, and I thought it tasted like a Werther’s candy. Ooooh, I love those. I can see why their macarons are some of the best in Toronto. The outsides shattered in my mouth, but the insides were perfectly chewy and the filling had excellent flavor. I’m still not a huge macaron person, but this was definitely one of the best I’ve tried.

I had a sample of a chocolate madeleine, which was tasty and had hints of lemon, before hopping back into the car. Then, we were off for the Ripley Aquarium, our first destination!

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On the way there, we saw skyscrapers, crazy traffic, and the CN tower. I haven’t seen massive buildings like this for a long time! They don’t exist in Waterloo. 😛

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The CN tower was, well, tall. Even taller in person. Looking up at it reminded me of the time Seline and I toured the Montparnasse Tower in Paris. I am always so amazed at what humans can build. Anyways, we went into the Ripley Aquarium at 9:00, right when it opened. Since it was so early on a blustery Saturday morning, the aquarium was practically empty. We didn’t have to line up for a second!

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Fish are super cool to me. Dad loves carp and koi (what’s the difference?) but I prefer looking at stranger fish that look odd or do bizarre things.

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Like these guys! I’ve never seen anything quite like these platypus-like fish. And we were lucky enough to watch these crabs play – or maybe fight? The big one gave the little one a short piggyback ride before they both toppled over, which we thought was so cute and funny.

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Then I caught a family portrait of some sad-looking eels and preppy tropical fish. I could honestly watch tropical fish for hours. Each one is so unique and so beautiful. One thing we observed was that they not only look different, but also behave differently.

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Some fishies were really photogenic and loved being near the glass, where it was a lot easier to capture photos of them. Other ones strayed near the back or circled the coral and anemones.

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We stood in front of this tank for at least twenty minutes because there was just so much to look at!

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The Ripley Aquarium is probably most famous for their “conveyer belt” tank, where you can stand on this very, very slow belt and go into a tunnel-like tank. This tank had thousands of fish, all swimming in schools, and at least twenty sharks.

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I seriously wonder how this shark eats his food. Having that big sawlike “beak” (snout?) seems useless. I’m curious as to what he actually uses it for.

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Every sight was incredible. I wish my eyes could take pictures for you!

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Whoa. This is one of my favourite pictures because I love how rays of sunlight are streaming into the tank.

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We found Nemo (and about 500 other Nemoes), his dad, Dory, and all his tank-mates! Plus, in the tank next door, a kind of creepy-looking fish that wouldn’t budge from its position in the sand.

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If I had to describe lionfish in one word, it would probably be “exquisite”. These beautiful fish remind me of poisonous butterflies that are dazzling but deadly. Some species can grow up to half a metre long!

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Seahorses are another one of my favourite sea animals. In Grade 3, my class had an animal research project where we had to write reports about the behaviour, habitat, diet, etc. on a unique animal. I chose the seahorse, but there weren’t any library books about seahorses so I had to switch my animal into the chickadee. And I was really sad about that because I thought chickadees have really stupid names – and they don’t even make a “chickadee” sound! Random, I know… but seahorses are just so cool to me. They remind me of delicate pieces of jewelry or fragile dolls.

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I did do a project on the leafy sea dragon in middle school. These guys look so different in person. They are truly masters of disguise!

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I couldn’t decide which photo of this jellyfish I liked best! I worked at the Vancouver Aquarium before going to the Sunshine Coast and Paris over the summer, and I learned there that “jellyfish” is actually a wrong term – without gills or fins, or even BRAINS, they aren’t actually fish. So we have to call them jellies. Same with starfish, which aren’t fish either. So we should refer to them as sea stars. Did you know that? 😀

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One tank was literally the size of my entire apartment unit, no exaggeration! The lights that illuminated this tank changed colour every couple of seconds, so the jellies went from being yellow to pink to green. It was fun to watch and take selfies with the mirror. Smile, Dad!

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After a quick browse through the gift shop, we walked across the street to the CN Tower.

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The view from the top was incredible. We could see the Toronto islands, which I had no idea existed.

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The elevator ride was fast and exciting, because the walls were glass. My ears popped twice with all the pressure!

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The CN Tower has a glass floor section near the top, where you can stand on “windows” on the ground and see all of Toronto beneath your feet. I loved this, and so did some children who were there. It was mostly the adults who didn’t want to stand on the glass panel!

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After the CN Tower, and getting lost in the Downtown Core for around twenty minutes, we finally found The Westerly, where we had brunch at 2:00.

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I ordered the eggs benedict, as usual. This one came with salad and pan-fried potatoes. I love bennies that are made with biscuits – this one had a warm cheddar biscuit and gravlax.

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Mmm, the biscuit was so yummy. I demolished my entire plate and felt pretty uncomfortable afterwards.

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Unfortunately one of my poached eggs were more soft-boiled than poached, so there is no sexy drippy egg-yolk photo for you guys today. 😦

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Dad ordered the burger, which was stuffed with bacon, red onion, and white cheddar – all his faves. He finished his whole plate, too, including the rosemary-dusted French fries. We both loved our meals!

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We headed home after lunch, when it was around 3:00. I really wanted to visit the Eaton Centre (Toronto’s biggest mall), Whole Foods (… yes) and the ice rink in front of City Hall. But Dad was getting worried that the weather was worsening, and he wanted to be home before the sky got dark. So we buckled up and drove another 1.5 hours back to Waterloo. Basically, I had another 1.5 hour nap. 😉

We had SUCH an awesome day!

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Thanks, Dad! Maybe we can do this again sometime… soon. Need more croissants. 😉

The Food-tastic Fortnight: A Must-See for Vancouver Foodies!

Happy Friday, friends!

Whew. How did that week go for you? Mine was a blur. I’ve been out and about, and in other words, I’ve returned to Waterloo, Ontario – with my dad! He will be here for 12 days in total. I’m so lucky to have him around for another week! On Monday morning, we rented a car from the local Enterprise, braved the cold a couple hundred times, bought essentials from Costco, had brunch…

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… enjoyed lattes and hot chocolate from Princess Cafe, bought a printer from Staples, and went grocery shopping at Sobeys. Dad stocked up on instant noodles, microwaveable chicken strips and fish strips, nacho chips, and croissants.

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Mom’s been a busy lady back in BC! One day, she made a roast beef with vegetables and served it with mashed potatoes and gravy. This was a popular meal, she reports 🙂 Another day, Mom made sauteed tofu with vegetables, chicken drumsticks, cucumber, and yellow turmeric rice. Dessert was cream puffs with berry, honey, and toasty coconut.

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Mom also hopped onto the baking bandwagon – here, she tried a new recipe for lemon berry muffins. These look so delicious! Wish I could try some, too.

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That’s just what’s been up lately! I didn’t post much during my winter break semi-hiatus, but I have definitely been eating. Here are some of the most memorable meals that I enjoyed out and about in Vancouver.


Lunch at Ajisai Sushi with Mom, Dad, Seline, and Grandma

Waterloo suffers from a serious sushi famine, hence my choice of Japanese food as my first meal off the plane! I originally wanted to enjoy a meal at Kishimoto Sushi on Commercial Drive, but they were closed for lunch. Instead, we lined up in Ajisai Sushi Bar for over half an hour. Poor Seline whose wisdom teeth had just been removed, skipped breakfast as usual and was one grumpy girl.

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The Seafood Salad is a very popular dish. The shrimp was my favourite part – chilled, fresh, with the perfect flavor. Cornflakes were sprinkled on top for texture, but I found this quite bizarre! The sushi was quite tasty as well. We ordered lots of California rolls for Seline!

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We also enjoyed some pressed sushi – salmon and eel, both of which were yummy. There was a hint of wasabi in the rice, which grossed Dad out. But the fish was top-notch and super fresh. The black cod was seared, and one of the most tender filets I’ve ever enjoyed in my life. The charred outsides were crispy and flavourful, but the interior was so soft and melted in my mouth. My family and I loved the black cod so much that we ordered a second one, even before finishing the first.

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Ajisai was great, but wasn’t worth the 30-minute wait. I much prefer Kishimoto Sushi for high-quality sushi and their much better presentation. 🙂


Lunch at Railtown Café with Hollie and Jia

The salad I ordered at Railtown Café was, without a doubt, the best salad I’ve ever eaten in my life. I had a dark hot chocolate and a roasted winter squash soup with that, but none of the sides even came close to the amazing salad.

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Hollie enjoyed the popular chicken club sandwich and a hot chocolate, while Jia nommed on the spinach salad with a peppermint mocha.

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My salad was a foodie’s dream: topped with avocado, sliced grilled chicken, pesto baby mozzarella, beets, feta, squash chips (delicious!), and toasted pumpkin seed vinaigrette over a bed of arugula. I savoured every bite.

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My supposedly “dark” hot chocolate wasn’t very dark, and wasn’t very rich. Keep in mind, though, I do compare every hot chocolate to the rich l’Africaine (basically, a pot of melted chocolate) that my sister and I enjoyed in Angelina’s Tea Salon in Paris. I believe this one was made with water and dark chocolate powder, because the bottom of the cup was a little grainy and powdery. I finished the whole thing, though, and enjoyed it 🙂

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For dessert, we split a peanut butter crunch bar three ways and nibbled at pinches of this hazelnut chocolate muffin, which had an excellent muffin top and great cinnamon flavor. Hazelnut and chocolate was a beautiful flavor combination, and with cinnamon, this muffin was top-notch. The PB crunch bar was too yummy for words, and I kind of need an endless supply of these guys in my life.

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I will absolutely be back, hopefully with someone with a car who can drive us past the sketchy downtown Eastside 😉


Breakfast at Beaucoup Bakery with Mom

I think I have the world’s best Mom. Ever since visiting Beaucoup Bakery late last spring, I couldn’t get this amazing patisserie out of my mind. I honestly think this place creates croissants that rivals the best of Paris, France.

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On the table today: one almond croissant, one apple pie croissant, one hot chocolate for me, and a coffee for Mom. We asked for the croissants to be cut in equal halves so we could both try both. Mom is my food friend with food benefits. Does that make sense? 😉

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My hot chocolate was fairly thick, with a hint of sea salt that cut through the sweet richness of the cocoa powder and milk. It was a little foamy on top and had the cutest, um, heart (?) on top. The hot chocolate was absolutely amazing, but I need more of these croissants ASAP!

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Lunch at Joey with Natasha, Medha, and Sally

I can’t believe it’s been half a year since I’ve seen these girls! We’ve been friends throughout high school and went through so many highs and lows together – from crying in Calculus (seriously… multiple times. Mostly me.), to slicing shark reproductive organs and bouncing their eyeballs on the floor, to making dance videos in a locked bus on a July afternoon (AKA dying of heatstroke). We even spent prom night together. 🙂 Oh, good times.

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L to R: Natasha, Sally, Medha, me! 🙂

This was the Ahi Tuna Sashimi Salad, which my friend Vivian recommended. Vivian works full-time at Joey Coquitlam, where she specializes in desserts. I can’t believe Vivian is my age – she has 50 times the talent when it comes to creating beautiful and delicious food.

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My salad was fresh and much bigger than it looks. The greens were packed in here, there was an entire half avocado, and toppings were hearty with plenty of roasted salted peanuts, tomatoes, mangoes, and crispy noodles. The wasabi sauce was fresh and gave the seared fish lots of zing. I just wish the iceberg lettuce could have been replaced with arugula or spinach, and I found the salad slightly overdressed.

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One of their most famous desserts is the apple pie: hand-rolled pastry crust with caramelized apple, nuts, and maple ice cream. We asked for this to be cut into quarters to share, and that was just the right size. The maple ice cream had a prominent maple syrup flavour, and the buttery crust was the best part. With caramel sauce and melty ice cream on the pastry, this dessert was to die for.

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The chocolate cake was sweet, decadent, and rich to the maximum. This was also split into quarters at the table, and we divided the vanilla ice cream as well. The raspberries provided great contrast to the sweetness of the chocolate. The middle was gooey perfection and I’m still drooling just by looking at that picture. Mmmmm.

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Brunch at Wendel’s with Mom, Aunt Mimi, and Uncle Charles

Mimi and Charles have been telling me about Wendel’s for over a year, but since I spent the summer volunteering at the aquarium, visiting the Sunshine Coast with my family, and living in Paris with my sister, we never got the chance to go. They raved so much about the famous French onion soup and coziness of the place that I made this the #1 place to visit during my return to BC.

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Wendel’s is located in Fort Langley, the historic part of town. It’s on such a quaint street that reminds me of uptown Waterloo. Wendel’s is connected to its own little bookstore filled with all sorts of journals, colouring books, and novels. We arrived at 9:00, when it opened, and the seats were practically full already!

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Mom enjoyed a blueberry scone and coffee, and was kind enough to share parts of her scone with me. Warm and buttery, this was one of the best scone’s I’ve had. Charles ordered French onion soup with a turkey sandwich on multigrain bread.

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Mimi’s brunch was also French onion soup, with a grilled cheese with red peppers on multigrain. She shared some of her soup with me, and oh my goodness, I can see why it’s their signature dish. Creamy cheese, rich and dark onions with a flavourful broth, I absolutely loved this dish and will be ordering it next time for sure.

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My brunch dish of choice is almost always eggs benedict. See Case 1, Case 2, and Case 3. Just can’t get enough! Do you guys like eggs benedict for brunch? I ALWAYS order it because poached eggs and Hollandaise are something that intimidate me too much to make at home, and I have a serious soft spot for biscuits and gooey egg yolk. This one had smoked salmon and beautifully poached eggs on English muffin, with potatoes. I wish they served freshly-baked biscuits instead of English muffin for their bennies, but this was still quite yummy.

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Dessert time! Wendel’s has a massive selection of sweet treats, from decadent ones to desserts that are gluten-free and vegan. We ordered four for the four of us, and one of them was the lemon meringue in a jar which was exclusively for Charles. One time, he ate TWO jars in one sitting after lunch – that’s how popular and delicious these sweets are.

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L: Coffee chocolate ganache cake

M: Salted caramel chocolate brownie cheesecake – this was my favourite 🙂

R: Bee sting cake with Bavarian cream, vanilla sponge, honey, coconut and almond topping – the contrast between layers here was incredible. Would also order this again! Would be awesome with a mug of tea or hot chocolate.

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I love Wendel’s, and so did everyone at our table. We are already making plans to return for lunch next time!


Lunch at Heirloom Vegetarian with Rachel

Do you guys know Rachel? She’s a food blogger extraordinaire, and my Vancouver food adventure buddy. We’ve enjoyed brunch together at Matchstick Coffee and Lebanese food at Nuba. I’m sure there’s another place we checked out together, but I can’t seem to remember it now! Anyways, you MUST take a look at Rachel’s blog at http://www.momentswithrae.com and be prepared to be WOWed by her stunning photography and editing skills.

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Heirloom has both a vegetarian menu and a vegan menu, and an extensive list of drinks. I started with the London Fog latte, which was unsweetened and served with a little cup of cane sugar. I was a little disappointed because although we arrived before noon, it wasn’t until 1:00 until our food came. Not a big deal, though, because we got lots of talking done!

Here’s is Rachel’s Heirloom Scramble, with organic Saskatchewan quinoa, green onion, leeks, oven roasted tomato, kale, artichoke hearts, rennet free goat cheese, topped with scrambled free range eggs tofu and salsa verde. She made a couple subs but apparently there were still bits of goat cheese in there. 😦 I tried some of her scrambled tofu and was pleasantly surprised. I have no idea how they got tofu to taste and feel “eggy”, but I’m sure nutritional yeast and turmeric were involved. Yummy!

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I was originally going for the Mushroom Hash, with caramelized onion, arugula, kale, scrambled tofu, bell peppers, and hash browns on a roasted leek puree. Unfortnately, they had just sold out and I settled on the California Hash, which came with organic Saskatchewan quinoa nut fritters, collard greens, yams, bell peppers, and hash browns, on creamy cilantro sauce, topped with seahorse dressing and pea sprouts.

“Settled on” would be the wrong words to describe this. After my first bite, I was completely blown away. Beautifully-cooked vegetables and fresh, flavourful sauce made a filling meal to remember. The quinoa nut fritters were like chewy falafels with a glorious crust, and reminded me of a cross between zucchini fritters from Paris and chickpea falafels from Thrive Energy lab. The green sauce underneath was made of cilantro and walnut, and the yellow spots are a vegan Hollandaise. I demolished this bowl and couldn’t get enough of those fritters, the sauce, and the yams. Mmmmm.

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The dessert of the day was underwhelming for me. It sounded great theoretically: vegan chocolate brownie with dates, walnuts, and almonds, and an avocado chocolate ganache served with berries. We asked for this square to be cut in half so we could share, but it turned out to be extremely filling. The “brownie” part itself was very chewy and firm, and the flavor seemed to be “off”. The avocado chocolate ganache was decent, though, and I was disappointed to see sliced apples on my plate instead of berries. I would not order this again and much, much prefer peanut butter-chocolate chip Larabars or black bean brownies for their texture and flavor.

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Thank you Rachel, for a delicious meal! What is our next destination? 😉


Dinner at The Flying Pig with Mom, Dad, Seline, and Grandpa

Have any of you seen Cirque du Soleil before? I saw one show in Montreal, Quebec in the summer of 2014 and another one right before this lovely dinner at The Flying Pig. Kooza was a funny and mega-entertaining show, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the performers and their incredible stunts. The sounds (live music!), costumes, and pure skill was unbelievable. I can’t even describe how good the show was – both this one, and the one I saw in Montreal. If you haven’t had the chance to watch Cirque du Soleil, I’m begging you to! What the human body can accomplish simply mesmerizes me every time.

Back to the food! Rachel introduced me to The Flying Pig and raved about the brunches she’s enjoyed here, so I knew that we had to stop by after the show. It certainly did not disappoint! My favourite bite was goat cheese + caramelized walnut + beet + arugula, but the seared cod was tender and equally delicious. I’m going to have to try brunch here next time!

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  1. Beet salad with arugula and goat cheese, candied walnuts
  2. Pulled pork poutine
  3. Chicken breast with asparagus and mashed potatoes
  4. Seared cod with spring vegetables

Lunch at Olive Garden Bellingham with Dad, Seline, Uncle Charles and Aunt Mimi

One of the highest-priority things on my “To-Do in BC” list was go to Trader Joe’s! And for one reason only – I wanted a jar of TJ’s SunButter. Thanks, Jack, for getting me totally addicted to the stuff! Sunflower butter is so dang delicious on bananas, in oatmeal, and on yogurt. So we drove to the states, shopped, bought clothes, got my precious jar of SunButter (which, unfortunately, had to STAY in BC because of airplane regulations), and enjoyed a meal at Olive Garden, the usual.

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I started with some chicken and gnocchi soup. Guys, I LOVE gnocchi! Have you tried it before? I’ve only ever had it a couple times from Olive Garden, and once from Wild Rice, and I enjoy ever single chewy, creamy, doughy bite. Next on my must-eat list = sweet potato gnocchi!

Dad had a customizable pasta bowl which included cavatappi pasta, crispy chicken, a spicy meat sauce, and parmesan.

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Mimi and I decided to go halfsies, and I ordered something from their “Lighter Fare” menu. Tilapia with shrimp and a butter, garlic, and white wine sauce with lots of herbs, served with broccoli. Mimi enjoyed the smoked mozzarella manicotti, and we shared. 🙂 The filling in her manicotti was delicious, and I loved my tilapia. The broccoli was really unsatisfying. Chopped into tiny florets and boiled for probably 10+ minutes, this broccoli was mushy hospital food at best. Still, broccoli is broccoli and I ate it all.

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Dessert was redeeming! Apple galette with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. I really enjoyed the flaky, buttery pastry with the cool ice cream. Would definitely order this dessert again 🙂

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Going to TJs, the Bellis Fair mall, and Olive Garden is becoming a yearly tradition for our family! I love it. Do you have any family traditions? 🙂


And, because I have no idea when else to post this – here’s Seline’s favourite recipe for macaroni and cheese. It’s super quick and easy to make, yet decadent and meets all the requirements for comfort food. For added nutrition, try adding some chopped non-hospital-mushy-like broccoli, bell peppers, spinach, asparagus, or mushrooms. You could also go the Whole Foods route and add breadcrumbs to the top, then broiling until they become crispy. Yum!

Seline’s Classic Mac and Cheese

Serves two, or one hungry teenager after school

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 oz macaroni
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup milk and ½ cup cream OR ¾ cup half-and-half and ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper, or more to taste
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (can use a mix)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Boil water, salt heavily, and cook macaroni according to package directions. Set aside.
  2. Melt butter over medium heat.
  3. Add flour, salt and pepper. Whisk until well blended.
  4. Pour milk and cream gradually and stir constantly.
  5. Bring mixture to a light boil and cook, stirring constantly.
  6. Reduce heat and cook, stirring constantly, for ten minutes or until thickened.
  7. Add shredded cheddar cheese and whisk to melt. Simmer until all cheese is melted. Taste the sauce – you can add extra flavourings here: more salt, more pepper, some spices like paprika, garlic, or maybe some Dijon mustard.
  8. Add cooked macaroni noodles to the saucepan. Stir and toss to coat with cheese sauce.

That is definitely it for today, because I have LOTS of work to get done and things to prepare for next week. Dad and I have plans to tour Toronto for two days – tomorrow and Sunday! – so I need to get ahead with schoolwork. This semester is a busy one for me, as I have seven courses: human physiology, physics, psychology (my favourite course, surprisingly), anatomy + anatomy lab, a clinical practice lab, and French. 🙂

I hope your weekend will be filled with great moments and yummy food as well!

A Wonderful Weekend + Marvelous Monday

Hello everyone! How are you doing? Hope y’all had a great weekend because I sure did! Totally feels like spring now, as opposed to last week (super rainy). The sun is out, the clouds are gone, berries are back, we’re getting ready to dust off the barbeque… and my allergies are back. But let’s not discuss my sneeziness/runny nose/red itchy bunny eyes here – don’t want to ruin your appetite. 😉

 

SATURDAY

Saturday I had a fabulous pancake breakfast. I LOVE Bob’s Red Mill pancake mix. It’s hearty, whole wheat, and has no artificial colours/flavours/preservatives. It’s basically just whole wheat flour + buttermilk powder + baking powder + salt. I sift out the salt, add a large dash of cinnamon, a tablespoon of quick oats for some fiber, and a teaspoon of flax for omega-3’s. Topped with macerated raspberries (mix with a spoonful of brown sugar, leave to “marinate” in fridge). Also spread with with almond butter, peanut butter, sunflower butter, as well as a sprinkle of chia, coconut, and lots of maple syrup for dipping!

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Lunch was quinoa salad with chopped Costco rotisserie chicken, sundried tomatoes, peppers, feta, and simple EVOO + lemon + pepper dressing. With 3 unripe slices of cantaloupe. Had this lunch at Mom’s friend’s house. Not the best lunch, but I managed to reject ketchup-drenched shrimp and rack of lamb.

Had a snack of Ambrosia apple + peanut butter + cinnamon.

Dinner was lame. Dad and sister went to a restaurant (Taiwanese tea place) so I made a little dinner for one. 1/3 of a cup of Quaker rolled oats cooked with water, spinach, 1 package single-serving cheddar cheese, sautéed corn and peas. Placed a fried egg on top and topped it with black pepper. It wasn’t terrible, but it was pretty bad. I was disappointed! With a headache, I went to bed early, looking forward to Sunday.

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Savory oatmeal…
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… not my thing!

 

SUNDAY
Sunday Funday was a much better day. Breakfast #1 was an Ambrosia apple (those are my FAVOURITES – so crunchy and sweet!) with peanut butter. Had brunch at the Rumpus Room, where I ordered the Vegan Platter, expecting a salad. I know, I know… it’s a platter. I have no idea why I thought it’d be a plate of lettuce with toppings!

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My Vegan Platter: raw veggie sticks, avocado, hummus, goat cheese, roasted vegs, pickles, tomatoes, cukes, crackers
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Grandpa’s Rumpus Salad with hummus, avocado, tomato, sprouts, onions, a grilled chicken breast, and more!

When my platter came, I was horrified at first. Raw carrots? Raw celery? I can’t do it!

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Mom’s smoked salmon eggs benedict. I had the one on the right!
Brunch isn't brunch without creamy eggs benedict!
Brunch isn’t brunch without creamy eggs benedict!

But then I grew to really enjoy the platter. The star of the show was definitely the house-made hummus – it was rich, smooth, and chickpea-ish. The texture was great, and I even got to CHEW on some unblended chickpeas! The hummus was topped with a rich, sweet, balsamic vinegar reduction. I’d also asked for a little dipping bowl of goat cheese! Yum. There were roasted vegetables (zucchini and red peppers) as well as raw sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado slices, and the said carrot + celery sticks. I think the best dippers were the crackers. They were seedy, grainy, and topped with sea salt – and they just melted and crumbled in my mouth. Reminded me of the multigrain Breton crackers from Costco – they really do taste identical. Except for the watery cucumbers and the raw veggies that I shared with Aunt + Uncle, I sorta liked it! I’d give the Vegan Platter a 6.5/10.

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Dad’s classic bacon cheeseburger, fries
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Sister’s bacon cheeseburger with poutine!

Mom had the smoked salmon eggs benedict. I stole some bites ate one whole poached egg + smoked salmon + hollandaise + English muffin. It came with breakfast potatoes, which were cut thin and seasoned just right! But that benny… oh my goodness. Really, really yummy. I thought the yolk could’ve been cooked a little runnier (we asked for soft, not medium), and I sort of missed the cheese. We were supposed to have a dill caper cream sauce, but that was missing. I was a little disappointed about that, but nonetheless we left absolutely stuffed.

Granny Smith apple, dried cranberries, almonds, red onions
Granny Smith apple, dried cranberries, almonds, red onions
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Thank you Mimi!

Dinner was kale salad, which my aunt had bought from Whole Foods for me. It had chopped Granny Smith apple, cranberries, slivered almonds, and red onions. The dressing was EVOO + balsamic + honey. I liked it! The kale was super raw, but not in a bad way. Very flavourful from the vinegary dressing. Dessert was a cup of peppermint hot chocolate (Silly Cow makes the BEST hot chocolate, and its ingredients are only cocoa powder, sugar, and peppermint!).

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MONDAY
Weekend news aside, I just had the best Monday EVER. After a leisurely sleep-in until 8, I washed my hair in the morning – which I never do – and headed downstairs for a quiet breakfast with Mom. Carrot + apple juice for her, fried egg + apple with almond butter + hot chocolate for me. Amazing! And miraculous considering I didn’t have oatmeal, despite having a ripe banana on the counter!

Then we skytrained to Grandma’s house, where we were picked up by Aunt Mimi {AKA best-ever-tour-guide-who-didn’t-charge-us-a-cent!}. We drove and drove and drove to Matchsticks, a well-known Vancouver coffeehouse and bakery. I bought (or, sorry, Grandma bought me) a pear + honey + almond muffin, a walnut + brown butter + pumpkin muffin, AND a cranberry orange muffin! Hint: you’ll see them all at dessert… keep reading! I am such a lucky girl! :mrgreen: Then, we drove to Granville Island. After shopping for ~30 minutes at the Public Market (and spending 15 minutes figuring out the parking meter, haha!) we had lunch at the Sandbar.

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The Sandbar is a famous restaurant in Vancouver, known for its incredibly fresh seafood. It’s a 3-story building. My family dined out on the patio, where ceiling heaters warmed us up, and the ocean breeze cooled us down. Loved it! Not only was the view amazing, the food was spectacular. We got a plate of bread to start, with butter that was labelled butter. The crust was apparently very tough and chewy, and my braces were kind of hurting, so I passed. Looked and smelled superb, though!

Here’s what I ate:
My entree was the Beet & Arugula Salad with fennel, walnuts (would have been better toasted!), goat cheese, crispy brussel sprouts (!), shallot lemon vinaigrette, added 1 filet grilled salmon (the BEST salmon I’ve ever eaten. Charred and crispy but still so tender and flaky inside!)

My beet + arugula salad with lemon shallot dressing. Added a filet of grilled salmon.
My beet + arugula salad with lemon shallot dressing

Smoked Salmon flatbread (2 slices) red onion jam, capers, lemon crème fraiche. This was Mom’s entree. Apparently she “has a small stomach”, so she can’t eat too much or risk having a stomachache. That’s sorta good news for me, too, because I always get to “rescue” her by eating half her meals!

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Mom’s flatbread

10 Truffle Parmesan Fries with roasted garlic aïoli (yes, FRIES. I haven’t had fries for at least 2 years! WOW! These were so worth it!)

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1 of Mimi’s shrimp with red curry coconut sauce (very coconutty. Tasty!)
1 bite of Grandma’s mahi mahi with pineapple salsa (it came with kale, grilled tomato, and coconut jasmine rice).

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*Sister ordered from the kid’s menu. She had creamy linguine with parmesan, and polished it off in minutes!

After a little more walking, we drove to our next destination – Mondo Gelato. This little shop on Robson had AT LEAST 50 flavours! Heaven for an ice-cream lover like me. Much pondering left me ordering a scoop of Kinder Bueno gelato (probably my #1 favourite candy bar?) and one scoop of Fererro Rocher gelato. So good! The Kinder Bueno flavour was so hazelnutty, which I loved. Wish I’d seen the strawberry cheesecake flavour – would’ve ordered that instead of the Fererro Rocher! They also had Nutella, every fruit imaginable (even lychee!), pistachio, coconut, cappuccino, tiramisu… oh my. Oh, Grandma ordered black sesame gelato! Crazy – I’ve never seen that flavour anywhere else! Very unique flavour; I wouldn’t say it was sweet, but it wasn’t savoury either. And it’s not nutty, not seedy… hmmm! :S There were real sesame bites in there, too. Give me a spoon and lock me in there overnight, please!

I was stuffed after that! Walked around the mall for a little while, then skytrained back home. Went for a 25 minute walk with Mom and the dog before dinner.

Dinner!
Dinner!

Dinner was incredible. Wow, my mom can cook! She usually cooks two to four dishes that we eat on top of rice. One dish was organic broccolette, from Costco. Have you tried broccolette? The kale/broccoli cross was surprisingly good! I expected it to be woody and chewy, but no – the florets were like “skinny broccoli” and the stalks like asparagus. It reminded me of gai lan, a Chinese broccoli that has little yellow flowers. It was crunchy and crisp yet tender (she steamed it first). On top of being packed with vitamins and minerals, we found it for cheap! Did I mention it’s organic? 10/10 for Costco’s broccolette! Woot!

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… did I really write 111 words about broccolette? #crazy #passionateaboutvegetables #omg #… #whatamidoing

Moving on! The broccolette was sautéed with carrots and onions, seasoned simply with salt, peppah and a little scallion oil for me. The other dish was asparagus stir-fried with egg and onions. I love egg stir-fries! My mom makes them creamy but still chewy (not in a rubbery egg way, though!). Such a healthy, quick, and most of all, delicious dish!

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We also had leftover rack of lamb (see Saturday’s lunch for deets) and leftover pork that she heated up. I didn’t have either – veggies, egg, and rice are enough for me! I had seconds, obviously, so add another scoop of each dish to my bowl. Asparagus in March is seriously irresistible! I can’t believe I used to hate asparagus. :O

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Muahahaha!

Dessert, of course, starred the three muffins from Matchsticks. I topped 2.5 spoonfuls (that’s not a word? Really?) of plain yogurt with honey, chia seeds, and crumbled pear + honey + almond muffin. There are seriously no words to describe how good this muffin was. I thought Whole Foods made the best muffins. Boy, was I WRONG! These Matchsticks muffins were buttery, crumbly, and honey-sweet. I could tell that this one was made {at least partially} with whole wheat flour or bran.

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Then, I had little slivers of the other two. The cranberry orange muffin wasn’t my favourite (I’d give it 3rd place), but probably only because it had dried cranberries instead of fresh. The cranberry orange muffins at Whole Foods are always BURSTING with fresh, juicy cranberries! Still, this one was incredible. The punchiness from orange zest/juice was great – I’d love this muffin over oatmeal with cranberry sauce. The crunchy turbinado sugar on top made this muffin!
The walnut + brown butter + pumpkin muffin was untouchable in terms of ability to melt in your mouth. It literally dissolved into buttery, pumpkin-y crumbs on my tongue. I really, really, enjoyed eating slivers of this one! The crumbs on top were truly the crowning glory. I think I also detected specks of real vanilla bean in here? Oh, and the cinnamon flavour was divine.
Whoa… reading that again, it totally seems like I was paid to write that. Haha, I wish! But these three muffins were honestly the best muffins baked goods I’ve EVER had. Can I give them 12 out of 10? :mrgreen: I can’t wait to have them again tomorrow, on top of oatmeal or alone! What are/were your favourite baked goodies? Do you like muffins?
**Stay tuned for a how-to post about making dessert healthier, using what you have at home!**

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Sidenote: Aunt Mimi once bought me two scones from Matchsticks – berry dark chocolate made with spelt flour and scallion + apple + Asiago. The scones were good, but not great like the muffins. Mimi, however, LOVES the scones – she bought five today! I guess it’s just the fact that scones aren’t as sweet? Do you like scones? Savory or sweet?
Lastly… another walk and some school stuff – then it’s time to read and go to bed. Have a fantastic Tuesday everyone, and I’ll update y’all again tomorrow! Good night 🙂