Goodbye, Waterloo

On Wednesday (3 days ago), I flew out of Toronto and came back home to BC.

My last few meals in Ontario were absolutely delicious.

Good times were spent with my friends (this is Kianna, my friend from aerial silks) – and we had a great lunch at Solé Seafood Bar.

Complimentary bread, tomato and blue cheese noodles, spinach and feta flatbread – both of which I shared with my friend Lara. Kianna had the shrimp scampi.

For dessert, we had a dark chocolate tart with creme fraiche and berry coulis.

One day, I cooked Gordon Ramsay scrambled eggs, which turned out irresistibly creamy. They did take a little extra effort to make, and I prefer my spinach + cheddar eggs.

Meal plans were created:

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I liked my sweet potato fries, salmon, with broccoli couscous. The garlic aioli was my favourite part.

Pancakes are always a dreamy breakfast. Chopped prunes on top!

Almond Flour Pancakes

Serves 6 pancakes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp melted butter or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Whisk dry ingredients together.
  2. Beat together liquid ingredients. Whisk wet into dry.
  3. Allow batter to rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Heat up pan to medium-high. Cook pancakes until tops are bubbly, edges are dry, and bottoms golden brown. Flip over and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  5. Serve hot with butter.

Have a lovely rest of the day, friends!

Finals ➳ Furniture ➳ Fries ➳ French

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week so far. The last week or so was quite hectic – last Friday was the last day of my final exams. We wrote the exam in the physical activities complex, which is currently being demolished to make way for a brand-new athletic facility.

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After the exams, I started taking photos of furniture to sell. The hardest part was clearing all of my things from the drawers and figuring out whether I wanted to sell, store, or take them home.

I also had to remove some of my beloved photographs and collages from the wall, unfortunately tearing out some paint. At least now I will have a souvenir to take home? I guess this is why I paid deposit. 😦

Things were packed, sold, and stored.

I also had to take these lovely cards from the wall and take pictures of them before I threw them away. I love these cards and wish I could keep them forever.

The room was a disaster once the furniture was moved out of the way. Look at all of the dust and hair! It was highly satisfying to sweep it all up with my dollar store Swiffer. Many trips to the dumpster were also made.

On Friday, all of my furniture was cleaned and a very kind man, his wife, and his brother-in-law came to take the furniture away. They are furnishing an unfurnished house in Waterloo and actually needed all the furniture. Moving was so much easier with some extra hands. Fourth floor, no stairs – no problem!

From left to right:

  1. New high score? Seline would not be proud. Her current score is over 1200!
  2. I posted on Twitter about my moving sale items, which were cross-posted initially on Kijiji. Princess Cafe responded to my tweet. I am going to miss them, too 😥
  3. Can you believe the small dots in this picture are all grey? This one still shakes me. Seeing is believing… until it’s not.
  4. Theatre Arcturus was founded by my new aerial coach, Lindsay. She retweeted me! That made my day.

I saw a hilarious series of finger twisting tricks online and wanted to give it a try. I could only do this easy one, but some of the others were mind-blowing. It would be neat to have double-jointed fingers and be able to freak everyone out.

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So, with all my furniture moved out, including my nice mattress, I’m left with five nights and a whole lot of floor. The first night was pretty uncomfortable and I woke up a few times throughout the night, but last night I felt alright. It was mostly my tailbone that didn’t like being pressed into the ground.

Lunch yesterday was lovely. Went to Timeless Cafe and Bakery with four friends: Christina, Victor, Daniel, and Danielle. I had the open-faced trout melt with parmesan and artichoke soup. Both were amazing, especially the creamy heap of trout salad and sharp cheddar on homemade seed bread. For dessert, we savoured some brown butter cherry loaf, raspberry and white chocolate scone, coconut and chocolate macaron, and a great salted hazelnut chocolate brownie.

Breakfast this morning was scrumptious. I made banana bread a while ago, using Greek yogurt and no honey/maple syrup because I ran out. The bread was a little dry, and not very sweet, so I Frenched it up with 1/2 mashed banana and a whisked egg, then fried it up in butter before topping it all with coconut chips, granola, chopped prunes, peanut butter, and blobs of yogurt. This is my new favourite breakfast!

My walk to a cafe was was wonderful this morning. I’m writing this now in the comfort of Balzac’s, which smells like roasted coffee beans and fresh muffins. I just had the best London Fog tea latte 🙂

This breakfast was so good that I actually had it two days in a row! Have you ever made French toast out of an “untraditional” loaf – like zucchini bread or carrot cake?

Dinner last night had all my favourites. Broccoli and peas sautéed with couscous, sweet potato fries (cayenne, cumin, and cinnamon + S/P make the best seasoning) and garlic aioli, plus garlic-butter salmon.

I could eat this every day! In fact, I will make it again for dinner tonight 🙂

A few days ago, scrambled tofu made an appearance with zucchini, peas, and mushrooms. The poached egg on top turned out very well – I boiled water, turned it down to a simmer, then carefully cracked an egg into swirling water. Then, I removed the pot from the heat, covered it for exactly 4 minutes, and voila, runny poached eggs. Also, that isn’t some plain ‘ol pita – it’s fried up with cheddar inside to make a pseudo grilled cheese!

That’s it for today, and I better get studying. My French final exam is on Tuesday evening and there is a lot of culture and vocabulary that I’ve yet to look at.

Have a wonderful rest of the week!

A [literal] Hole in the Wall, then Fish & Chips

Good Friday morning, everyone! Hope you’re all having a great week. Although I’m back in the Lower Mainland (AKA home, and off the islands now), I’ve been having a pretty good time scrolling through pages and pages of photos, trying to select the best ones for the blog.

This is one of them! On our way from Parksville to Ucluelet, we drove past Port Alberni and visited the famous Cathedral Grove. It is part of the MacMillan Provincial Park, and is known for having some of the largest and oldest trees in the country. Some of the trees were up to 800 years old.

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Seline and I climbed a lot of the trees – sounds cool, but we only dared to step on the sturdy, low, and large trunks!

After that, we drove down to the Coombs Country Candy Shop, a place that makes their own caramel corn, their own hand-churned ice cream, fresh gelato, and all kinds of candy. I wanted a big piece of tiger butter (white chocolate peanut butter chocolate), but ended up ordering two scoops of ice cream: one English toffee and one peanut butter chocolate. It hit the spot on this hot, hot day.

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Next, we crossed the street (actually, highway) to a secret location called Hole in the Wall. It was, quite literally, a hole in the wall with a lovely waterfall gushing out.

Seline and I loved exploring this private little area! There was no one else in this rocky grotto.

Lunch was our next stop! Bare Bones Fish & Chips was a busy restaurant that served fresh seafood, salads, and fries. My mom and I shared grilled halibut with Caesar salad, while my dad and sister devoured calamari and fried cod. Dad loved his chicken strips! I loved the dips – there was wasabi aioli, sweet Thai chili, tangy seafood, lemon-dill, and traditional tartar.

Mom and I took a walk to the Victoria Quay. She looks SO cute here! Big thanks to my mom for taking about 390,435 (probably more) photos of my sister and I.

We waved at ships and admired the clear blue water. Hey, how do you pronounce the word ‘quay’?

Next stop – the Naesgaard Farmer’s Market! This place was a foodie’s dream. I walked past rows and rows of baby kale and arugula (planted!) and saw dozens of different squash. My mom and I ended up picking up a delicata squash, which is one of my favourites. I’ve only ever seen it in Waterloo!

Unfortunately, we didn’t take many photos at our next destination, the MacLean Sawmill from the 1920s. It was quite mesmerizing to see refrigerators, cars, beds, briefcases, and kitchenware from nearly a century ago. The best part was playing with this typewriter and old dial phone. Typewriters are heavy!

PS: did you know that T-Y-P-E-W-R-I-T-E-R is the longest word in English that you can type using only one line of the keyboard?

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Another long drive was endured before we arrived in Ucluelet, ready for some barbecue! At Hank’s Untraditional BBQ, my mom and I demolished a bowl of beans, cornbread, cabbage stew, potatoes, and tender BBQ pulled pork. Seline liked her pulled pork mac and cheese, too.

Then it was time to unpack, play cards, and sleep. 🙂 Family vacations are the best – especially when you go with a close family friend family. Did that make sense?

Stay tuned for a couple more days of vacationing in the Sunshine Coast!

Tapas Tuesday at Nick and Nat’s Uptown 21

Hey everyone!

A bit of a different post for you guys today – lots of pics of recent restaurant and cafe eats. The summer’s been going well for me so far, and every day has mostly been busy with volunteering, yoga, and relaxing.


SETTLEMENT CO.

Chai tea latte and Greek yogurt and cherry croissant

I was pretty disappointed with this snack. The chai tea latte smelled incredible, but the flavour wasn’t there. It was quite bland in terms of spices, but overly sweetened and more watery than milky. I didn’t think it was a true latte because of how thin and diluted it was, as well as how sugary the drink tasted.

I asked for the croissant to be heated up, and I did see the server put it in the oven. However, when it was served to my table, the croissant was cold, firm, and not the least bit flaky. The filling was unevenly distributed, with yogurt on one side and cherry jam on the other. It wasn’t warmed up at all, and lacked the crispy, buttery, flakiness that all croissants should possess. I would not recommend Settlement Co. at all!


On Tuesday, Madhulika and Arsalan (housemates) took me to Uptown 21 for their famous tapas.

  • Disappointment #1: called in the afternoon and there was no answer.
  • Disappointment #2: didn’t make a reservation (this was entirely my fault).
  • Disappointment #3: we didn’t get a table, and had bar seats directly outside the kitchen.

NICK AND NAT’S UPTOWN 21

Shredded beet salad, curried chickpea salad, cucumber and carrots in vinegar dressing

The shredded beets were sweet and tangy, but nothing special. I didn’t like the cucumber and carrot dish, because I found it plain and too vinegary. The chickpea salad was decent, but more curried spices could have been used. I also tasted yogurt and possibly pureed peppers. I think the curried chickpeas could have easily been made at home, with much more flavour.

Pesto breadsticks with tomatoes, olives, and herbed ricotta

This was okay. I don’t like how the pesto was drizzled (rather than smeared) on the breadsticks, and there was nothing particularly special about the bread. The ricotta was quite delicious, though.

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Grilled asparagus with hummus

This was one of my favourite things of the night! The asparagus was cooked perfectly, with a hint of smoke from the grill. The hummus was flavourful and tasted homemade. It even had small chickpea chunks in it! The flavours paired together very nicely.

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Honey-garlic chili fried chicken thighs and drumsticks

Another favourite dish! I’m certainly not a big meat-eater, and was actually very hesitant to eat a thigh. With some convincing from Madhulika, I had to give one a try. There were absolutely no regrets! The skin was crispy, the sauce just sweet enough with a great kick, and the garlic flavour was not overpowering. Also, the chicken itself was juicy and succulent. I could have eaten several more pieces!

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All the “appetizers” together.

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Mussels in tomato broth

I’m not a huge fan of mussels, but I had a couple and thought they were just average. The tomato broth was simple. With mussels, I like to have a coconut-based seafood stew with garlic, ginger, and other Thai flavours like lemongrass.

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Crepe with “fromage fort” (blue cheese) and picked zucchini

This would’ve been nice if it had been served warm. Unfortunately, it was chilled and stuffed poorly. My piece had tons of blue cheese, which can be off-putting. The pickled zucchini lacked flavour, and the crepe itself was thick and chewy.

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Grilled hanger steak with cayenne oil

I had a small piece of the beef, and it was surprisingly better than other beef that I’ve tried. Very chewy, which I don’t like, but the flavour was pretty good.

Parsnip fries

“These taste like stale… regular fries” was what Arsalan described these fries as. Madhulika enjoyed them, and I thought they were just okay. When it comes to veggie fries, I like sweet potato fries, followed by carrot. Parsnips have a flavour that I think does not belong in a French fry.

Chilled tomato gazpacho with crunchy herb croutons

It’s probably just a Cindy-thing, but I am seriously against cold soups. I just don’t like them. Soup, being pureed vegetables and liquid, should NOT be doused in vinegar and served chilled in a mason jar. The crunchy croutons were slightly redeeming, however. Arsalan, Madhulika, and I agreed that this was too acidic from the vinegar.

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Poutine with veal gravy and mushrooms

I had one fry and a mushroom. It was pretty average, but then again, I am DEFINITELY not the right person to ask when it comes to evaluating fries (especially poutine).

Soft-boiled eggs with truffle cream

I really liked this! The eggs were cooked very well, and the truffle cream tasted great. I think the cream was made with truffle oil whisked into mayonnaise, because the oil bits had somewhat separated from the creamy mayo. This was a really special dish that I enjoyed a lot. 🙂 I forgot how tasty soft-boiled eggs can be!

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Smoky grilled bok choy with balsamic drizzle and crispy onions

Another great dish! The crispy onions had excellent flavour, and I love how the leafy ends of the bok choy had the shatter-y, fragile quality of a kale chip. The balsamic drizzle gave these veggies tons of flavour. It was my first time eating bok choy in a non stir-fry setting!

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Beet salad with chipotle aioli and crunchy breadcrumbs

This was great. I liked the beets, but the crunchy, buttery breadcrumbs were very special. They didn’t taste like regular breadcrumbs, but more like a rich crumbly graham cracker. The aioli was nice, with a bit of a kick. I think it could have been spicier, but it paired nicely with the sweet beets.

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Deep-fried rainbow trout with chipotle aioli

This was our last dish. We were getting full and decided to surrender after the fish. I really liked this, but was a little disappointed that the trout came with the same chipotle aioli as the beets. The fish itself was cooked nicely, with great crisp. It tasted very fresh, and reminded me of salmon tempura.

Random note: six of the savoury dishes were served with these micro-sprouts. Why not use chopped chives? Dried basil? Crispy garlic? I got kind of bored of this garnish after six dishes.

Then, we waited for dessert…

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Chocolate brownies with ganache

These were much, much firmer than I’d expected. They tasted more like a truffle, or a block of chocolate, than a brownie. A little upsetting, especially because I am a HUGE chocolate brownie lover. I like my brownies soft, chewy, dense, and fudgy, not firm and truffle-like.

Whipped cream with strawberries and crumbled meringue

The kitchen ran out of raspberry mousse before making this dessert. I was disappointed, because they replaced the famous berry mousse with whipped cream. 😦 Topped with only four strawberries, this mason jar wasn’t very exciting. The meringue crumbles were an interesting addition.

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Apple bread pudding with powdered sugar and whipped cream

This was my favourite dessert, but it still wasn’t amazing. With a faint apple flavour and a hint of vanilla, this bread pudding was tasty compared to some of the other sweets that we were served.

Peach, chocolate, and cherry sorbet

I. Officially. Loathe. Sorbets. Peach tasted very “off”, the chocolate wasn’t cocoa-y in any way, and look at those ICE particles on it! Definitely a sign of poor-quality sorbet, in my opinion. Cherry tasted like medicine.

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Steamed rhubarb and sesame brittle on whipped cream

Unique, but again, whipped cream. This was the third of five desserts that used whipped cream. The sesame brittle was a creative twist that I enjoyed, but it was too “corn-syrup” and not sesame-ish enough. The poached rhubarb had great flavour that I can only describe as berry-ish, with the texture of a silky vegetable.

And that’s it for today!

  1. Do you like tapas?
  2. What would your favourite dish here be?
  3. Do you think my dinner was worth $40 (actually $52 with tax and tip)?

 

Paris Desserts

Dessert Gallery

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TOP 5 DESSERTS

5) Chocolate brownie from Chez Sesame

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4) Mille-Feille from Josephine Chez Dumont

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3) TIE between Amorino pistachio gelato with Speculoos gelato // Pozzetto Gianjula and pistachio gelato

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Above: Amorino // Below: Pozzetto

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2) Speculoos cheesecake by Guu desserts (from Auchan supermarket)

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1) Creme brûlée from Bistrot Richelieu: WINNER!

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Almost made the list: financiers from Moisan Bakery and Eric Kayser

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Above: Moisan Bakery // Below: Eric Kayser (mini with nature, chocolate, pistachio, regular-sized pistachio)

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Paris-Brest

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Desserts from Gateaux Thomieux, Bon Marche, Liberte, and Tholoniat: Opera, mille-feuille, chocolate tart, flan, St-Honore, eclair, choux, etc.

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Dinners in Paris

Dinner Gallery

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TOP 5 DINNERS

5) Blanquette de veau (creamy veal stew with carrots, pearl onions, mushrooms)

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4) Baguette, carrot mustard salad, Caprese salad, Compte cheese, steamed Provencale-style fish, steamed broccoli, sautéed vermicelli

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3) Spaghetti with tomato shrimp sauce, mushrooms, Camembert cheese and zucchini stir-fry with krill

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2) Caprese salad, rocket and pine nut salad, baguette, garlic green beans, potato cake, stir-fried bean sprouts, steamed fish with scallions, rice

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1) Taco cups with ground beef, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, cheddar, cheese plate with grapes, vegetable soup with baguette

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Almost made the list: creamy lobster pasta with tomatoes and basil

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