Brackley Beach

I can’t believe we’re already a week into August. This summer is going by so quickly! Last week, my sister and I revisited Brakish, where I enjoyed the arugula salad with feta, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, cucumber, tomato, raw broccoli, barbecued Atlantic salmon, and raspberry vinaigrette. It’s such a fresh, flavourful, delicious salad, and I’m glad I ordered it again. The salmon was perfectly cooked.

There was some salad left over, so I ate it for lunch the next day, alongside a banana-oat muffin smeared with peanut butter, some blackberries, and delicious sweet and salty trail mix. My favourite parts of trail mix are always the cashews and pecans.

Seline and I were so lucky, because we had the opportunity to go to Prince Edward Island’s beautiful Brackley Beach. Brackley is about fifteen minutes from Charlottetown, and “offers miles of pristine sandy beaches and majestic dunes with various nearby attractions to enthrall all guests to the region“. Seline and I enjoyed wading in the water, reading in the sand, and biking around the area.

For dinner, we biked to the Dunes Studio and Gallery, where Seline had lamb shank in Massaman curry, veggies, and rice. I had two appetizers – one massive seafood chowder with chives, and an incredible cashew pesto flatbread with caramelized apples, brie, vodka-infused cranberries, and scallions (incredible). I also ate so much of their daily bread, which was studded with chillies, cheddar, and chives. It tasted perfect when dunked into the creamy broth.

For dessert, we shared the strawberry shortcake and their daily special, the sticky date pudding. The macerated strawberries tasted awesome with whipped cream and biscuit, and as usual, the sticky date pudding was to die for. It was lovely served alongside fresh vanilla ice cream and berries.

Some things:

  1. Looking at the Dunes menu before going – Seline had the third option, the lamb shank
  2. PEI schedule
  3. List of requirements for a cool scholarship that Seline found

Few more things…

  1. I made a virtual poster for the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children
  2. List of things to do in New Glasgow, another area of PEI. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the opportunity to go
  3. Thank-you letter for our landlord

Our beautiful PEI home. Goodbye, lovely house on North River.

Seline and I have an obsession with Leonhard’s Cafe and Restaurant. I normally eat their salmon and avocado eggs benedict, which is absolutely delicious, but since we went later in the afternoon yesterday, I felt like something more lunch-y. I ordered the beet and goat cheese tart, which was topped with candied pecans. This is the most delicious tart I’ve ever eaten.

A completely different note – Sal and I love Small Print Board Game Cafe. Our favourite games are kind of lame: Quoridor, Guess Who Disney Edition (!!), something about funding the expeditions, Word on the Street, and Last Word.

Another day, Seline and I went to Piatto Pizzeria. It reminds me of Famoso Pizzeria in Waterloo, which I’ve been to quite a few times. I think I still like Famoso’s pizzas better, because they are more generous with their toppings. At Piatto, I ordered the arugula salad with gorgonzola, candied pecans, dried cranberries, and balsamic. In terms of pizza, Seline had the barbecue chicken pizza with caramelized onions, and I liked my goat cheese, proscuitto, and pear pizza. It was on the salty side, with the goat cheese and proscuitto, so I wish there was more sweet pear.

For dessert, Sal had vanilla bean ice cream, and I had a mason jar of creamy, flavourful tiramisu.

Another evening, Sal and I dined at the Pilot House. It’s one of our favourite PEI places. This time, she had the chicken gnocchi, and I ate the warm Cajun seafood salad again.

Pear and cream cheese pie with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream for dessert. This pie was great, but I’m not a big pie fan.

Yesterday afternoon, Seline and I went to COWS Creamery for our last dose of delicious Charlottetown ice cream. Seline had a scoop of vanilla and a scoop of chocolate, and I enjoyed my Cow-nadian Moo-ple ice cream (maple with swirls of syrup and crushed maple cookies) and pumpkin patch.

One of my favourite lunches was from Mavor’s Restaurant, where I ordered an award-winning grilled cheese sandwich. It was smeared with pear compote and stuffed with ricotta, cheddar, Gouda, and bacon. The bread was also a superstar – it was potato rosemary bread with plenty of butter. I loved this lunch, as well as the little side salad.

For dessert after lunch, Sal and I shared the chocolate lava cake with two scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Dinner from Lobster on the Wharf – I had the seafood pot pie with green beans and boiled new baby potatoes with butter and sour cream. Seline had their striploin with mushrooms and onions, plus coleslaw. I also had a lemon-poppyseed salad, which was a little boring.

Dessert was amazing. I’m a huge carrot cake fan, but don’t find good carrot cake very often because I’m a cream cheese icing snob. The cream cheese icing has to be perfect! And this one was. The cake was actually served warm, with the creamy, cheesy icing slightly melted. YUM!

Last but not least, a peaceful lunch at the office, starring peanut butter and banana, croissant, a banana-oat muffin, yogurt, more peanut butter, blackberries, and awesome trail mix.

IMG_3332

Seline and I are flying back to Vancouver (actually, Toronto first, then Vancouver – we have a one-hour layover) TOMORROW! We loved our time in C-town but are excited to come home, too.

The Vancouver Pastry Taste-off

Ultimate 5-Sentence Backstory: I love almond croissants. I really, really, really love almond croissants. I left my home in BC to come back to Ontario for work. Dad offered to take me on a Vancouver almond croissant tour. I was told to not be too greedy…

#1

Yes, I know it’s not a croissant… but why don’t we talk about it anyways?

Sour cherry buckwheat scone from Purebread Bakery ($4.50): crispy exterior, very tender inside, excellent flavour with a strong, toasty, grainy (but not excessive) buckwheat taste. I really enjoyed it. The texture is crumbly, which I really like and look for in a good scone, and it is studded with fairly large, juicy dried cherries. This is one of my favourite scones of all time, and in fact, I chose to come to Purebread for this scone, which I’ve had before (and have been thinking about, ever since). I vaguely remember there being white chocolate chunks in this scone previously, but I did not find any chunks of white chocolate this time.

#2

Almond croissant from Sweet Victory Bakery ($9.50 for the croissant and a London Fog tea latte): firm, loose/separated layers, chewy, hard, scantily-filled. This was my least favourite croissant because it was more hard than crispy, causing me to suspect that it had been baked a day or two ago. I picked up a London Fog tea latte from Sweet Victory, and enjoyed it greatly, despite it being a little cooler than I would’ve liked – they nailed the flavour and I liked the touch of latte art, which I rarely see on tea lattes. Completely unrelated: the bakery itself was quite nice, and I loved the modern décor (marble, geometric gold, wood finishings).

#3

Double-baked almond croissant from Thomas Haas: heartily-filled, and the almond filling was reminiscent of blanched almond flour. It was not very gooey, and held its shape nicely. The layers were buttery, and the exterior crisp (not hard). There was much more filling than the almond croissant from Sweet Victory, and the texture was better as well. In fact, Thomas Haas’s almond croissant beat the almond croissant from Sweet Victory in every sense: taste, texture, and in my opinion, presentation. This croissant was my dad’s second favourite, and my mom and I ranked it third place.

#4

Lavender Earl Grey scone from Purebread Bakery ($4.50): lavender haters beware – this scone was extremely strong in lavender flavour. I could barely detect the Earl Grey, and had I not known it was a lavender Earl Grey scone, I would’ve assumed it was purely lavender. My dad disliked this scone greatly, as he hates lavender. You can smell the lavender from quite a distance away. My favourite thing about this scone was the dense, buttery texture. I don’t want to say that it was fudge-like, but it was truly a dense, thick scone with immense buttery flavour.

#5

Almond pistachio croissant from Thomas Haas: this croissant had a large “puff”, in that there was a lot of air space between the base, where the filling ended, and the peak of the croissant. The filling was minimal. Unlike Delysees (Toronto), where the pistachio croissant is filled to the brim with gooey pistachio paste, this croissant had a mere smudge of pistachio-almond paste, which was disappointing. The texture of the pistachio was similar to chestnut, noted my mom. My dad pointed out that the filling could be saltier. This croissant was truly a disappointment; I would’ve liked to see at least six times as much filling and a crispier exterior, as if it’d been double-baked like the almond croissant from Thomas Haas. Both Thomas Haas croissants came in cute paper bags (unlike the paper bags from other places), and I was offered a nice plastic bag to hold the two.

#6

Double baked rhubarb cheesecake croissant from Beaucoup Bakery ($4.60): fantastic topping. The topping of this double baked rhubarb cheesecake croissant was the best of the batch. I loved the crispiness of the top, as well as the caramelized sugar on the base. As for the filling, the rhubarb was cooked until very tender, though not mushy, and carried its signature sour flavour. The sweet, crusty exterior provided excellent contrast to the sour-tender filling of the rhubarb and cheesecake. My mom noted that the cheesecake filling tasted like sour cream, so it would’ve been nice to detect some citrus or vanilla notes in the cheesecake batter filling. On a different note, we felt that the chunks of rhubarb inside were too big and would’ve been more enjoyable if they were cut smaller.

#7

Chocolate almond croissant from Beaucoup Bakery ($4.60): incredible croissant. My dad ranked this one in second place, while my mom and I felt like it should come in third. It was filled generously, and the chocolate was rich and satisfying. Almonds covered the top generously, but I wish the chocolate had been more evenly spread. We cut the croissant in fourths, and my quarter was almost entirely filled with chocolate while my parents’s pieces lacked chocolate completely. Regardless, this croissant was tender inside and had rich, buttery layers that I would not hesitate to order again and again.

#8

Almond croissant from Timbertrain Coffee Roastery ($4.90): good thing we tried this one last, because all three of us agreed that this croissant was the number-one croissant of the batch. First of all, the filling was more “liquid-y” than the filling from Thomas Haas’s croissant, and all three of us enjoyed the gooeyness. The layers tasted like perfectly-toasted bread, though one end of the croissant was slightly burned. Despite being crisp, the croissant was anything but hard. The filling was sweet, but not too sweet, and the exterior provided great contrast. We also enjoyed the base of the croissant, which carried the taste and texture of caramelized sugar. There was no doubt that this almond croissant came in first place, and I would easily go back to Vancouver for more of these. My only complaint? Timbertrain Coffee Roastery doesn’t make tea lattes – I wanted a London Fog tea latte, but they could only make mistos (steamed milk + tea base), as they don’t have syrups in their cafe.


Any thoughts? Are you a croissant or scone person? What do you look for in a good pastry?

Bhima’s Warung

On Friday night, I met up with a new friend! We met in the coolest way:

Hi Cindy – you don’t know me at all but I promise I’m not too weird! I follow a lot of food bloggers, and I saw you commented on Kath Eats’ blog, and after checking out your page I found out that you go to UW! I’m a student at Laurier so I just thought that was kinda cool.. pretty small world haha! Just wanted to let you know that I love your blog and will be continuing to follow it 🙂

We chatted about housing, sublets, Toronto, food, sushi, and blogs – then realized we were both free Friday evening for an exciting food outing!

Before I show you those pics, check out this pear oatmeal. I grated most of the pear inside with a cheese grater, then topped it with pear slices and a big glob of peanut butter. Cocoa powder was also involved, making this breakfast deliciously dessert-like.

Also, check out this horrific lighting. iPhone camera + 8AM sunrise/5PM sunset = this.

On the bright side, I made muffins? These delicious, tender, not-too-sweet vegan applesauce carrot muffins were fantastic. I’ll share the recipe in my next post!

img_3769

We decided to meet at Bhima’s Warung. They had so many reservations booked throughout the evening, that, even though I called three days beforehand, we were left with a 5:45 reservation. Which, now that I think about it, was probably a blessing because I got super full.

img_3731

Our appetizer involved delicious chicken and scallop dumplings, fried and topped with spicy mango sauce and shoots. I really liked this! The dumplings were crisp, the fillings flavourful, and the sauce a great companion.

Indonesian-style noodles were also ordered. We shared this sweet, savoury, and tomato-y bowl of noodles. It doesn’t look big, but it was! The perfectly-cooked egg noodles filled me up so quickly. This bowl was also loaded with mushrooms, carrots, cilantro, and crunchy peanuts. The sauce was excellent!

Our main dish featured a piece of monkeyfish and a lobster tail, along with spicy coconut broth mixed with egg noodles. I absolutely loved this and could not get enough of the spicy, creamy sauce, tender noodles, and flavourful fish. The monkfish was cooked just right, and tasted quite fresh.

img_3750

Both of us were about to explode, but there were still noodles and some of our entree left over. Nonetheless, dessert was ordered.

Guys, this dessert blew my socks off (do people even still say that?). I absolutely loved this. It looks strange from the picture, but I’ll try to describe it. On the menu, this was called a black sticky-rice creme brûlée, so I was expecting a traditional creme brûlée studded with black rice. Instead, there was a cup of phyllo pastry filled with creamy black rice in a sweet sauce. That was topped with a custard-like vanilla pudding creme and a big shard of creme brûlée sugar topping. There were also grapefruit shreds on top. On the side, there was a slab of chewy toffee nuts. Everything tasted so fresh. The sweet vanilla custard and the tender black rice were my favourite parts.

Denise enjoyed a chocolate marquise, which involved spicy chocolate and orange (mango?) sorbet. I tried some of her chocolate marquise, which was absolutely delicious. It tasted like a dark, chocolatey, rich truffle crossed with the best gelato. I ate all of my dessert – and some of Denise’s too. YUM.

Yesterday and Sunday were yoga teacher training days! I have just three more days before I’m certified. WOO! Yesterday, I taught around 8 minutes of yoga to a group of 40+ people in this studio. I thought I would be nervous and shaky, but it didn’t turn out too bad at all. In fact, EVERYONE did amazing when they taught their parts. I felt so proud of my fellow yoga classmates! It felt a lot more natural once I was at the front, demonstrating. Guess my standards were a bit too low for myself 😉

15110468_10154744866199592_1767843454343489766_o

And, I believe that’s it for today! Happy Monday, my friends 🙂

Flourless Black Bean Chocolate Cake Recipe + Lately

Aaah, yum.

Did the title gross you out a little bit? I mean, it is a chocolate cake made without flour and refined sugar, with a whole can of black beans. The icing, completely dairy-free, is made of whipped coconut cream with a touch of maple and vanilla. There are two kinds of people in the world: ones that will eagerly give this a try and declare that the black beans are completely concealed, and those who refuse to take a bite because of the whole flourless/sugarfree fact.

I’m assuming you are the former. 😉

DSC00302

Blender recipe alert! I love those. Isn’t it 10x more awesome when a recipe can be made in one container, than, say, three or four? I think the best part of the recipe is that you can decorate it any way you like – I went the simple route and used fresh berries with milk chocolate shavings. I’m thinking some banana slices, and a drizzle of peanut butter, would be incredible too. Or maybe poached pears? Really, the options are endless.

DSC00267 DSC00298

For the coconut whipped cream, I simply refrigerated a can of coconut milk overnight and beat the CREAM ONLY for a minute or so, until creamy, then added a little maple syrup and vanilla extract. The coconut whipped cream can be refrigerated in a separate container until ready to spread.

Decorated with fresh raspberries and milk chocolate shavings, this was the perfect way to celebrate 2016. You guys are going to love this easy, delicious, and oh-so-nutritious cake. Watch slices just FLY off the table at your next family gathering and think of all the vitamins, minerals, and protein in each cakey, chocolatey bite.


Black Bean Chocolate Cake

INGREDIENTS
  • 15 oz unseasoned black beans
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 6 tbsp coconut oil (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Grease a cake pan or springform pan. We used a 9” pan.
  3. Drain and rinse beans. Shake off the water.
  4. Put all ingredients in the food processor or blender. Beat on high until the beans are completely mashed and the batter is very smooth.
  5. Scrape batter into pan.
  6. Tap on counter to pop the bubbles.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes. Cake is done when the top is round, cracked, and firm. Check to see if a knife comes out clean.
  8. Cool, then cover and refrigerate.
  9. Let the cake sit overnight in the fridge, or at least 8 hours for the best flavour.
  10. Serve the next day with coconut whipped cream, raspberries, and additional coconut, cocoa powder, or chocolate flakes!

Please, take a bite!
DSC00309
You must be wondering how this guy tastes! I’ll try to describe it:
  • Rich and chocolatey, like the outside of a molten chocolate lava cake
  • Soft and tender, but not fall-apart soft
  • Just sweet enough
  • Great contrast between the rich chocolate and light flavor of the coconut cream
  • Slightly chewy, but melts in your mouth

Just make this ASAP 🙂 We brought this whole cake to a party with three families, and cut it into the tiniest slivers. Everyone finished their slice, and many had seconds. This is a recipe that I will be making again and again!

DSC00279
What else has been up recently? On Saturday, Dad and I went to Toronto where we (okay, I) indulged on the most beautiful pastries. We also visited the Ripley Aquarium in Toronto’s downtown core. You can check out the post here, which I promise isn’t filled with iPhone photos like this one!
12544750_1266816790011523_1230747635_o
I was so happy when I received a message from Mom, who recently made my almond cake recipe. Hers looks just like mine!
12539916_1288723791144915_460843849_n 12544263_1288723771144917_1693725555_o
And she sent me this. My mom is too cute. 🙂
12498777_1288723811144913_1396533029_n
At the aforementioned family party where we enjoyed the black bean chocolate cake, there was a kitty called Mitten! Mitten is from Montreal, and he is just like a dog. 🙂
DSC00282
Before Dad and I came to Ontario, and before we did all the grocery shopping/buying essentials/eating in Waterloo, we had dim sum in Richmond with Aunt Mimi and Uncle Charles. The milk and egg cream buns were my favourite. The yellow goop inside is unexplainably good – like a melted bo lo bao! Liquid gold, I swear. Do you like dim sum?
DSC00313 DSC00316 DSC00319
I’m not quite sure how to describe these, other than mashed taro surrounding chopped duck meat, rolled in crispy “shreds” and deep-fried. I had a couple of these too, sans the meat inside which I found too chewy. But the crispy exterior was light and had great texture that contrasted with the tender taro. Mmmm.
DSC00322 DSC00323 DSC00325
Toronto’s Pearson airport is so hard to navigate!
DSC00328 DSC00329
I mentioned in a previous post that Dad and I had brunch together on our first day in Waterloo. Here’s what I had – a London fog latte (it was overwhelmingly sweet and definitely the creamiest I’ve had – in a not-very-good way) with the smoked salmon scramble. The toast was homemade and so good with wilted spinach, goat cheese, shallots, and egg. I liked their jam, too!
DSC00332 DSC00338
I bought a scone to enjoy at home, but accidentally ate it all on the car ride to Costco. Oops.
DSC00342 DSC00343
Breakfast the next day involved toast, almond and peanut butter, sliced banana, and lots of cinnamon.
DSC00345
Dad and I also had a Mexican dinner – his in the form of unpictured tacos, but I had mine in a quinoa bake topped with avocado, salsa, and plain yogurt as a sub for sour cream. I used ground chicken instead of ground beef, and it was my first time cooking meat by myself! 😀
DSC00354 DSC00360
I’m trying to remember what I put in here, but I’m pretty sure it was just a mishmash of veggies with goat cheese and cheddar.
DSC00368
I made a chocolate mug cake another day, which we shared. Such an indulgent dessert that takes just a minute to make and another minute in the microwave.
DSC00371 DSC00373
We split it 50/50 but Dad doesn’t like warm desserts. 😦 I topped mine with more chocolate (can never have enough, am I right?) and lots of creamy peanut butter. Best. Dessert. Ever.
DSC00375
Omelet with asparagus, brie (oh, this was so good) and avocado toast topped with truffle salt. A super filling breakfast for a very busy day.
DSC00378 DSC00385
Another Princess Café knockoff panini sandwich with butternut squash soup. This sammie was filled with sliced apple, brie, mustard, spinach, and some garlic and herb goat cheese.
DSC00392 DSC00403
It doesn’t get much better than a hot, crispy sandwich filled with creamy, melty cheese.
DSC00400
Tofu sautéed with veggies and peanut sauce on a bed of quinoa. This plate was inhaled! I would probably even eat uncooked pasta or rotten berries if they were smothered in this peanut sauce. It’s just so good.
DSC00405 DSC00408
Lastly, a sweet note: yogurt with microwaved apple (chopped apple in the micro for a minute with some water and cinnamon), almond butter, and coconut cashews. Ah, the perfect end to my day.
DSC00421
I know it was a super quick post today but I am off to a Power Yoga class this morning before a lab (a human CADAVER lab – I’m SO excited! We’re looking at shoulders today. More later!) and another couple of classes in the afternoon.
Happy Wednesday, everyone!

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.

DSC00424 DSC00426

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.

DSC00443 DSC00429

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!

DSC00431 DSC00432

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?

DSC00433 DSC00441 DSC00440

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.

DSC00439 DSC00438 DSC00437

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.

DSC00434 DSC00444

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.

DSC00445 DSC00459

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 🙂

DSC00450 DSC00451 DSC00477

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

DSC00467

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.

DSC00460 DSC00455 DSC00479

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.

DSC00464 DSC00480

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.

DSC00454 DSC00463 DSC00484

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!

DSC00473 DSC00498

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. 😛

DSC00490 DSC00491 DSC00784

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!

DSC00782 DSC00783 DSC00503

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.

DSC00501 DSC00509 DSC00511

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.

DSC00519 DSC00534 DSC00535

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.

DSC00543 DSC00563 DSC00566

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.

DSC00573 DSC00577 DSC00586

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

DSC00593 DSC00604

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.

DSC00641 DSC00617

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.

DSC00607 DSC00609

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

DSC00611 DSC00652 DSC00764

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

DSC00622

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.

DSC00662 DSC00686

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!

DSC00668 DSC00680

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.

DSC00700 DSC00703

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!

DSC00710 DSC00719

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? 😀

DSC00760 DSC00759 DSC00748

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!

DSC00724 DSC00728 DSC00738

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

12544082_1266162293410306_1446950855_o 12506619_1266162280076974_1024734568_n

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

DSC00775

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

DSC00776 DSC00770

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!

DSC00780 DSC00781

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.

DSC00786 DSC00787

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.

DSC00806

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

DSC00805 DSC00800

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. 😦

DSC00815

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!

DSC00809 DSC00794

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!

BeFunky Collage

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

Paris Desserts

Dessert Gallery

dsc00052 dsc09961

dsc04288 dsc04201

dsc04004 dsc03145

dsc02816 dsc02814

dsc02780 dsc02629

dsc02534 dsc01848

dsc01902 dsc02226

dsc01756 dsc01226

dsc01127 dsc01737

dsc01627 dsc01619

dsc00959 dsc00953

dsc00815 dsc01568

11939133_1193123114047558_1800216867_n dsc00537


 

TOP 5 DESSERTS

5) Chocolate brownie from Chez Sesame

dsc02332

4) Mille-Feille from Josephine Chez Dumont

dsc03861

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

dsc04436 dsc00225

Above: Amorino // Below: Pozzetto

dsc02885 dsc09796

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

dsc04495

1) Creme brûlée from Bistrot Richelieu: WINNER!

dsc03689


 

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

dsc01778

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

dsc03396 dsc09882

Paris-Brest

dsc03259

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

dsc00465 dsc04592

dsc02417