Three Unbelievable Brunch Dishes 👌

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For dessert… you guys. You guys.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And… I’m back to studying!

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

Bye!

First Impressions of Brisbane, Australia

Before my direct flight to Brisbane (15 hours nonstop from Vancouver!), I had a lovely meal with my family: Mom, Dad, Seline, Grandpa, and Mimi (aunt) and Charles (uncle). My aunt and uncle had just returned from Kathmandu, Nepal, that very day, so I was very lucky to have a meal with them before I jetted off to the southern hemisphere.

I split a Joeys classic with mom: salmon, quinoa, veggies, radish, as well as a great pesto shrimp flatbread. For dessert, I savoured apple galette with maple ice cream, chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream, and a great caramel parfait with sponge toffee.

Not too long after, I arrived in sunny, beautiful Australia. I was welcomed by Margaret, my mom’s friend from several decades ago, and her friends Bill and Carolyn. Bill and Carolyn greeted me with a delicious vegan lunch, which consisted of noodles, bok choy, vegan “chicken” made of soy and gluten, carrots, and soy sprouts. On the side, we had corn soup, and then large mugs of green tea. What a great way to say hello to Australia!

I had the opportunity to check out my new room (very warm!), unpack both of my suitcases, and then take off for some exploring around the neighbourhood, which is called Toowong.

Brisbane is such a spectacular city. I feel like it has the charm of a quieter town, but the big-city excitement of places like Toronto. On my first night, I went to CIRCA, where I did a few hours of open training at the circus gym. I will share photos soon!

Saturday morning was exquisite. I enjoyed breakfast at The Corner Store Cafe, where I devoured:

  • 1 smoothie with banana, acai berry, coconut water
  • flatbread filled with lamb, hummus, pickled turnips, 2 fried eggs, 2 pieces halloumi

All I have to say is W-O-W. I’m not a huge fan of lamb, but this was hella delicious with the crispy fried halloumi, creamy garlicky hummus, and luscious runny egg yolks.

On Sunday morning, I feasted on a papaya boat topped with coconut vegan yogurt. The vanilla bean flavour in this coconut yogurt was absolutely divine, and I loved how the tanginess of the raspberries contrasted with the creamy flesh of the papaya and rich yogurt. While the vegan yogurt didn’t have the signature sour tang of regular cow’s milk yogurt, it reminded me of coconut whipped cream in the best way possible. I can’t wait to have more later today.

Aside from the deliciousness that is coconut yogurt, I got a Go Card. Although it’s not as convenient as flashing bus drivers a student card (like I do in Waterloo), the Go Card is much better than dealing with cash. Plus, as a student, concession fares!

I had my first aerial straps private lesson on Sunday. It was my first time touching a set of straps, and I had quite the workout. My wrists didn’t like it very much, though… as you’ll see in a moment. These are aerial straps. While I am nowhere near this skilled, I am very determined to improve the skills that I’ve been introduced to, and look forward to increasing my stamina, strength, and, sadly, my pain tolerance.

I was always confused when people talked about having a high pain tolerance for aerial straps, but I get it now. Both of my wrists are bruised, the skin has rubbed off in many places, and yesterday, some areas bled and leaked watery fluid. My fingertips, which you can’t fully see in the picture, also bled quite a bit (due to the amount of pressure in my grip). Then, there’s the muscle aches and pains, though the abrasion is much worse than muscle tension, in my opinion.

After my straps lesson, Margaret and I drove down to the Gold Coast, where we enjoyed a fabulous lunch. I ate:

  • summery smoothie with banana, mango, peach, passionfruit
  • small balsamic salad with grape tomatoes
  • melt on Turkish bread with mozzarella, ham, wild mushrooms

The beaches in Australia are truly something else. I was rendered speechless by the blueness of the waves, the warm breeze, and the soft, fine, powder-like sand. I could wander here for ages!

Sunday passed too quickly, and before I knew it, it was Monday, and I was at school for my first day of Orientation. The University of Queensland is easily one of the most beautiful campuses I’ve been to. I went to the school’s pharmacy, gift shop, and book store. I look forward to picking up one of the hoodies for Seline, who loves hoodies.

Speaking of Seline, the two of us are, again, slightly extremely obsessed with the Maze Runner series by James Dashner. I thought my obsession had been cured (hehehe) after seeing the final film of the trilogy and spieling all my thoughts into a Google Doc, but Seline’s newfound interest in the film caused my addiction to resurface. :’)

Back to Brisbane! Truly, truly, an incredible city. I had the opportunity to visit the museum, which was free (yay), and walk around some quiet streets like Bakery Lane. The Queensland State Library was also beautiful.

That night, I had dinner at Tartufo, an Italian restaurant where I devoured:

  • pasta with smoked mozzarella, Italian sausage, fried eggplant, tomato, basil, parmesan cheese
  • 1 chocolate fondant with mascarpone cheese, Belgian dark chocolate shavings, vanilla gelato
  • English breakfast tea with milk and sugar

Then, it was dark and time to go home. 🌃

Have a gorgeous day!

Taiwan, Cambodia, Macau | Trip Summary

Coquitlam, Canada

Early January, my sister and I did some hilarious (i.e. stupid) things, and I got an eyelash perm. I also packed up my travel bag with plenty of homemade baked goods, books, popcorn, and info sheets with health tips. Read more, and find more photos, here.

Taipei, Taiwan

Before I knew it, we were in Taipei after a twelve-hour flight. Though most of the first days were uneventful (we had errands to run), it was exhilarating to be back in Asia, and I loved browsing the markets. Read more about it here.

One of the highlights of my time in Taiwan? We visited a famous Taiwanese breakfast house, where I tried savoury soy milk, and ate egg pancakes, “shao bing”, Chinese crullers, and more. We also visited a temple, some old friends, and had a seafood meal with my two of my six great-aunts. I also got a massive taro ice cream (hands-down one of my favourite ice cream flavours, next to pistachio and chocolate-hazelnut). Then, we flew to Cambodia! Read more about it here.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

In Cambodia, we arrived at our hotel in Phnom Penh. I loved our hotel room, and the restaurant downstairs, where I enjoyed baked snails, risotto, and other incredible dishes. Dipping my toes into the pool was so special, and then we headed to an authentic Cambodian restaurant. Read more about it here.

We spent one sunny morning at the Royal Palace, where we took some of my favourite photos. I also enjoyed the lunch we ate at Daughters of Cambodia, a café that trains young women trapped in the sex industry. Then, we visited the beautiful National Museum. Read more about it here.

At Khéma, a stunning French restaurant, the three of us enjoyed a spectacular meal. I also loved taking photos outside our hotel, in the beautiful, yet busy, streets of Phnom Penh. We visited a market in the morning and had a lovely brunch together. Read more about it here.

Dad and I visited Wat Phnom, a Buddhist temple built in 1372 to mark the centre of Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. There were so many photograph-able places. In the afternoon, we took a tuktuk to a Cambodian restaurant, and I saw a little gecko in the bathroom! Read more about it here.

Our last day in Phnom Penh involved another visit to Daughters of Cambodia, some time by the hotel pool, and tasty tapas. After a breakfast buffet in the hotel, we took a six-hour bus ride to Siem Reap, a city in Northern Cambodia. We ate an unforgettable seven-course meal at EMBASSY, a French restaurant with a Cambodian twist. Read more about it here.

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Finally, I got to check off “Angkor Wat and Angkor Archaeological Park” from my bucket list! We woke up at 4:00 AM to buy tickets and watch the sunrise. Despite a torrential downpour, I was thrilled and amazed to get a glimpse into these legendary temples surrounded by forest. Read more about it here.

The next morning, Dad and I did some exploration before enjoying breakfast at the hotel. I tried jackfruit for the first time, before we completed Angkor Archaeological Park’s Grand Circuit, visiting temples in the outskirts. This was one of my favourite days of the trip, and made me realize that I’d love to visit more historical world heritage sites. Read more about it here.

Kep, Cambodia

After a final meal in Siem Reap, we took a night bus back to Phnom Penh, had breakfast at our old hotel in Phnom Penh, and took a three-hour to Southern Cambodia, where we enjoyed our time in a resort in Kep. We completed a short hike in Kep National Park, and I had the best fish dish with spicy garlic coconut sauce. After brunch the following morning, Dad and I visited Bokor National Park, where we saw the Old Palace (built by French settlers prior to 1920). Read more about it here.

Since Kep is famous for their peppercorns and fresh crab, we took advantage of the situation to devour plenty of prawns, crab, and fish! I loved wandering around our resort, where there were plenty of bright, colourful plants to photograph. One afternoon, Dad and I visited the caves of Kampong Trach, which was a little disappointing since they were dry (it is dry season), and there was no waterfall. I also made a list of things I had the opportunity of eating for the first time in Cambodia. Soon, our Cambodia adventure was over, and we found ourselves back in Taipei. Read more about it here.

Macau, China

A trip to the night market kicked off our one-day stay in Taipei, and then we were off to Macau, the City of Dreams. We ate a scrumptious dinner at Bene, an Italian Restaurant near Sheraton, our hotel. I also made the mistake of ordering (and solo-eating) two large desserts. 10/10 would do it again, though. The next day, I had a delicious quiche before a lovely spa treatment, and we had dinner at the famous Din Tai Fung. Read more about it here.

Delicious buffet meals and incredible dim sum were enjoyed in Macau, and we had the opportunity to see some wonderful performances. I also got to do the Sky Walk on Macau’s highest tower! Read more about it here.

Taipei, Taiwan

During the last few days I spent in Taiwan, I enjoyed a variety of night market treats, had a tasty meal with family, and watched The Death Cure. Read more about it here.

On one plane ride, I had the opportunity to compile a list of tips for those travelling with elderly parents or grandparents. Like I mentioned in that post, many special memories were created during our trip to Cambodia, and I gained a valuable appreciation for my grandfather. Most importantly, the time that we spent together was a gift that I will cherish for a lifetime. Read more about it here.

Then we were back home! 🏡

Night Markets, Eel Rice, and Airport Adventures | Last Days in Taiwan

Hello, everyone!

I hope you are all having a wonderful week so far. It’s now Friday morning, and I’m happy to be back home with my family in BC. Next Thursday, I’ll be flying off to Australia, so I’m thrilled to have some time to unwind, unpack, and… repack.

But first, let’s look at some eats!

On one of our last days in Taiwan, we had breakfast at the buffet at our hotel, the Taipei Hero House. I ate two plates, and particularly loved the steamed bun (mantou), pickled turnips, Taiwanese braised pork rice, and sautéed cabbage.

At Yum Cha, a dim sum restaurant, we ordered:

  • siu mai with pork and shrimp
  • wok-fried beef strips and wide rice noodles
  • eggplant with spicy pork and salted fish
  • glutinous rice and chicken in a lotus leaf

Another morning, I had a lovely quiche from a coffee shop in the airport. This quiche was labelled as “chicken and vegetable”, but I didn’t detect a single piece of chicken in here. That was no problem, though, because it was stuffed with onion and mushroom – it was super flavourful.

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That night, Dad and I went to a night market called Raohe Street Night Market, which primarily caters to tourists. First up: an oyster omelet with plenty of sweet and sour sauce. I love oyster omelets, and this was a great way to kick a the night of eating.

Then, I ate:

  • deep-fried taro ball filled with cheese
  • deep-fried taro ball filled with red bean paste and salted egg yolk (unpictured)
  • taro milk
  • cheese bubble waffle
  • stinky tofu with pickled cabbage
  • Taiwanese tempura with pig blood cake (made with pork blood, sticky rice, broth, and steamed or cooked in a hot pot)
  • wheel cake filled with radish
  • wheel cake filled with cream
  • bolo bao (pineapple bun) filled with vanilla ice cream

The next day, Grandpa and I went to a botanical garden in Taipei and ate dim sum. The creamy salted egg yolk buns will always be my favourite.

We enjoyed food at a Japanese grill for lunch before watching a movie. The restaurant was packed with people, and the line extended for a block! Everyone in the restaurant ate very quickly, and I felt like I didn’t have time to enjoy my meal to the fullest.

I ordered the small steamed rice box with eel. I love eel (unagi), and my mom used to make it for me all the time when I was little. On the side, we enjoyed deep-fried oysters with Japanese-style “tartar” sauce, sautéed vegetables, grilled squid, blackened pork kebabs, and miso soup.

Then, we went to watch The Death Cure. Guys. If I’m not eating, sleeping, or studying, I’m probably somewhere obsessing over some YA novel or its movie. Anyways, The Death Cure came out early in Taiwan (as most movies do), and I watched it with my great-aunt, dad, and grandfather. Sorry Seline – we planned to see the midnight premiere together. 😥 No regrets on my end, though. Definitely need some more time to process it.

I thought the movie was absolutely electrifying. I like the Maze Runner series more than Divergent, and I felt like the movies certainly did the books justice. It is also refreshing to have a courageous, yet emotional, male lead in a dystopian YA film. The Death Cure had funny snippets of dialogue and expressions that added comedic relief – interlaced with shocking parts that I never saw coming. Did anyone else see this yet?

After the movie, my mind was muddled with bombs and explosions and moral corruptness, and we went to Starbucks for some coffee and chatting. Dad and I also had time to go to Carrefour (similar to Wal-Mart), where we picked up some slippers to bring home for guests.

After some more walking, and shopping in old Taiwan’s local market, we ate wontons. These wontons were smothered with a delicious sesame sauce, soy sauce, and plenty of scallions. They were delicious!

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At the Taoyuan International Airport, more food: delicious soup dumplings with soy sauce and ginger. I love soup dumplings, but would never believe that an airport could make such tasty ones. This was lovely, and I had a great mug of dark hot chocolate from Godiva.

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Then I established this lame, but exciting-to-me, list!

Things I got to eat in Taiwan:

  • beef noodles
  • soy milk
  • Chinese donut
  • bean curd
  • fried oysters
  • milk tea
  • beef intestine salad
  • tian bu la (tempura)
  • pig blood cake
  • shaved ice mountain (bao bing)
  • mochi
  • pineapple bun
  • glutinous oil rice
  • fried cruller in a baked flatbread (shao bing you tiao)
  • stinky tofu
  • fried stinky tofu
  • taro milk
  • braised pork rice with eggplant
  • oyster omelet
  • beef rolls

Things that I sadly did not have the opportunity to enjoy:

  • egg pancake (dan bing)
  • salt and pepper chicken
  • ba wan (Taiwanese glutinous meatballs)
  • fried buns
  • pineapple cake
  • scallion pancakes
  • gua bao
  • sun cakes

Twelve hours later, I found myself giggling with my sister back home!

At Earls, my family enjoyed lunch together. My plate included fried salmon with a dill and pepper sauce, buttery asparagus, and jasmine rice with scallions and fried onions. This meal was incredibly flavourful, and it was great to eat salmon again!

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That is it for today, mes amis. 🙂 I hope you all have a fantastic Friday.

December Things | Coupons, Lobster, Turkey Marinade

Happy holidays, friends! ❄️

According to over 63,000 votes on Google Surveys, these are voters’ favourite parts of Christmas:

  • 3% carolling
  • 14% Christmas decorations
  • 9% Christmas dinner
  • 6% Christmas movies
  • 9% Christmas music
  • 24% presents
  • 7% Santa Claus
  • 28% time with family and friends

What do you think?

This holiday, I’ve been home for a week so far and have had so much deliciousness. First up, a tasty plate of Hainanese chicken rice, a fried egg, sauteed asparagus, and seared tofu with green onions. Mom is an amazing chef.

Another day, I loved chocolate oatmeal with crunchy peanut butter, along with the richest honey Greek yogurt and blackberries.

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Mom’s Taiwanese dishes are lovely. I loved this rouzao rice (minced pork rice) with stir-fried broccoli and carrots.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet up with the super intelligent, articulate, hardworking, and food-loving SHANNA YEUNG! I had such a fangirl moment when my mom and I saw her parking her car and coming over. Shanna suggested Kinemi Kitchen, a quiet Italian restaurant in a Vancouver strip mall. While unassuming from the outside, Kinemi Kitchen smelled amazing and served up the best cheesy baked lobster I’ve ever had, atop a bed of linguine and veggies in garlicky rosé sauce and parmesan,

We also had dessert: taro Nutella bubble tea sans bubbles and red bean cheesecake bubble tea – also sans bubbles. Before I knew it, I was on my way home!

Mom and I did some baking shortly after:

Chocolate Cheesecake

Serves one 9” pan (16 servings)

INGREDIENTS

  • 18 to 24 Oreo cookies or graham crackers, crushed finely (1.5 cups)
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar, optional (I didn’t use this)
  • 2 to 6 tbsp melted butter (depends on how much cookie you use)
  • 3 8-oz packages softened cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 8 oz semisweet chocolate chips, melted  in a double boiler and cooled
  • sprinkle of cinnamon, optional
  • 1/2 espresso powder, optional
  • 3 large eggs

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine cookie crumbs, icing sugar, and butter. Press into the bottom of a 9” springform pan.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes, or until you smell a strong chocolate aroma.
  4. Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add a pinch of salt.
  5. Add chocolate. Mix well.
  6. Add eggs one at a time. Mix on low speed until just blended.
  7. Add optional cinnamon and espresso powder, if desired.
  8. Pour over crust.
  9. Bake 55 mins, or until centre is set. Turn off the oven. Crack the door open several inches. Allow the cake to cool in the oven for 1 hour. Remove.
  10. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen the cake.
  11. Cool before removing the rim.
  12. Refrigerate cheesecake for four hours.
  13. Serve with berries (raspberries are awesome), caramel sauce, and whipped cream.

The day before, I had the opportunity to speak at my high school about travelling, co-op, volunteer work, and life in university. It was a wonderful experience, and neat to see all the hopeful, excited grade twelve students.

On a completely different note, I emailed a bunch of companies during the fall (to ask for free samples) and recently made a compilation of all the companies that responded to me with coupons. These were all mailed to my house.

Basically, what I’m saying is: if you have free time, or no life like I do, email these companies and get some free coupons. Mom and I ended up getting juice, maple syrup, bread, three boxes of tea, nut butter, two large containers of hummus, and frozen chicken and cheese taquitos – for just over $1.00.

Operation Coupon

  • Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery $1 off (x5 coupons)
  • Tetley CARE Lemon Ginger tea bag
  • Tetley Ayurvedic Balance Herbal tea bag
  • Tetley free herbal iced tea
  • Tetley herbal iced tea save $1 (x2 coupons)
  • Ozery Bakery $1 off (x3 coupons)
  • Ozery Bakery one free package of any product (max value $5)
  • Ocean Spray save 50 cents
  • Quaker, Aunt Jemima, Rice-A-Roni $2 coupon
  • Maple Lodge Farms $1 (x2 coupons)
  • Nature save 50 cents (x5 coupons)
  • Hain Celestial $1 off (x2 coupons)
  • Earth Balance $1 off (x2 coupons)
  • El Monterey Free product (max value $16.99)
  • El Monterey save $1 (x3 coupons)
  • Welch’s save 50 cents (x2 coupons)
  • TAZO free box of filter bag tea or tea latte concentrate (max value $5.99) x2 coupons
  • Sabra hummus free product (max value $5.99) x2 coupons
  • Smucker’s save 55 cents (x2 coupons)
  • Clover Leaf tuna snacks save 50 cents (x3 coupons)
  • Eden or Sobaya $1 off (x3 coupons)
  • Splenda $1 off (x2 coupons)
  • Twinning free box of tea, any size (max value $9.99)
  • Organic Meadow save 75 cents (x3 coupons)

That’s pretty much it for today. It’s Christmas Eve already, so I’m going to help with Mom’s turkey cooking. Here is what she used to make the turkey really flavourful.

Mom’s Special Turkey Seasonings

  • olive oil
  • butter
  • soy sauce
  • Dijon mustard
  • lemon juice from a fresh lemon
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • Italian seasoning
  • poultry seasoning
  • Montreal chicken seasoning
  • dried oregano
  • dried parsley
  • dried thyme
  • dried rosemary
  • dried basil
  • paprika

Food, Face Mask, Flying Home

My last few days in Scarborough were snowy. Very snowy and up to -30 degrees at night.

On my last day of work, the team went to a restaurant called The Local, which is run by hospitality and cooking/pastry students at Centennial College. Here, the students learn to make sauce, stocks, bread, and more, while serving the public. It’s a special place with a connected cafe, open to everyone, and nothing is made from a box. In fact, all the ingredients is fresh, seasonal, local, and homemade. For example, the signature burger uses a homemade burger and bun – and homemade ketchup and a homemade pickle!

Below: plate one with creamy dill trout, Mediterranean pizza, Latin cheese puff, goddess salad, Asian green salad, rice with black beans

The menu switches up every three weeks. According to their news report, “choices are influenced by Scarborough and the school’s multicultural environment”, so everything is globally-inspired.

Below: plate two with Jamaican jerk chicken, more creamy dill trout, and spiced rice with black beans

Other cool things: there is free parking for community members who stop by for lunch/dinner, and there is no tipping! Food is served buffet-style, and there are always plenty of veggie options.

Below: dessert of white chocolate mousse with berries, salted caramel apple crumble, and raspberry chocolate mousse cake

Packing went much smoother than I’d expected, since I had fewer things. Before I knew it, both suitcases were packed and I was on my way home.

That night, I had plenty of extra oats and yogurt to use up, and I did.

“Chock full of protein, calcium, vitamin D, and probiotics (the healthy bacteria that aid digestion), there’s no doubt yogurt provides delicious benefits for your insides. But it can also do beauty wonders for your outsides as well, namely for your skin. Yogurt contains lactic acid that dissolves dead skin cells. This gentle exfoliation not only helps to create a natural glow and prevent breakouts, but works to diminish the appearance of lines and wrinkles. When topically applied to the skin, a velvety yogurt face mask will help moisturize, fight acne, prevent premature aging, relieve sunburn, and reduce discoloration. It’s an all-around beauty multi-tasker.”

  • Honey: Softens and moisturizes skin, rich in antioxidants which prevent free radical damage. Reduces fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Oatmeal: Great exfoliant. Nourishes skin and removes excess sebum and dirt from deep within skin pores.

This made me feel super fresh.

Yogurt Face Mask

  • 2 tbsp yogurt
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp oats
  • OPTIONAL:
    • cinnamon
    • nutmeg
    • olive oil
    • mashed strawberries
    • lemon juice
    • mashed avocado
    • cocoa powder
  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well.
  2. Wash your face, making sure hair is tied away from the face (or use headband).
  3. Optional: do a facial steam to open pores.
  4. Smooth yogurt all over face and neck. Use a thick coat.
  5. Keep on for 15 minutes, then rinse off, gently, with warm water.
  6. Splash cold water on your face to close pores.
  7. Pat dry with a soft towel.
  8. Moisturize.

How gorgeous is this? Flying over the Rocky Mountains is always such an honour, especially in the midmorning. Canada has so much to offer ❤

Exciting news: I purchased all my MCAT books and created a big study plan. I have 225 days until the MCAT that I’m planning to write on the first day of September. Let’s get studying! WOO!