A Food-Filled Weekend Getaway

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I train at C!RCA in Brisbane, which is located on the third floor of a contemporary arts and dance centre. It is a beautiful place, and I’m so honoured to train in the same space as world-famous acrobats.

Good morning! Hope you are all having a spectacular week so far.

 

It is now Tuesday, and I spent the morning in class, then meal-prepping. I made a massive, hearty vegetable stir-fry, and ate it with some random protein from the fridge (a cheesy omelet and falafel). Now, for some blogging before I start studying.

Last night, I went to aerials as usual. I’m currently working on a post for my Schulich Foundation media page on my journey with aerial straps.

But more importantly:

my friend and I spent the weekend at Byron Bay!

I mentioned this on a previous post, but my friend – Grace – and I planned a weekend getaway to Byron Bay, which is approximately two and a half hours from Brisbane. On Friday morning, I enjoyed a delicious homemade chai latte, some yogurt with nuts and banana bread, then packed up my backpack and a gym bag. Next, I cleaned up my room and the bathroom. I love coming home from a trip to a clean, cozy place.

Before I knew it, we were on the shuttle bus on our way to Byron!

Our hostel was the Byron Bay Beach Hostel, which was located conveniently in the city centre. We were fortunate to receive a free upgrade, and ended up with our own bathroom and a queen bed (as opposed to two twin beds and a shared bathroom for the entire floor).

This was my first time staying at a real hostel, and I was very pleasantly surprised. 🙂

After dropping off our things, we headed for lunch at Balcony, an oyster bar. I ordered the three-cheese crab mac and cheese, which was topped with garlicky breadcrumbs and plenty of hearty crab. I loved this meal! You guys know that I love anything served on a sizzling skillet. Our lunch was almost as good as our conversation. Grace is super easy to talk to!

After that, we spent Friday afternoon at Main Beach.

That night, there were two minor disappointments:

  1. There was a major power outage that hit Byron Bay just as we were leaving our dinner restaurant. We ended up walking home in the dark, without streetlights, and sitting around in the hostel without electricity. That night, fortunately, the power came back – and you could hear the cheers of everyone out on the beach town.
  2. Our snorkelling tour was cancelled due to the windy conditions. The water would be too choppy for snorkelling. I was so sad about this! Y’all know from my bucket list that I’ve always, always wanted to go snorkelling or scuba diving.

On the bright side, dinner was exquisite. We went to Treehouse, a twenty-five minute walk from the hostel. The venue was stylized to look like a treehouse, and musicians were performing live music. The atmosphere was truly unique, and I was elated to have had the opportunity to try their renowned pizza. The caramelized onions on top were my favourite part! Dessert, similarly, was divine – definitely one of the Top Five desserts I’ve ever eaten in my life.

  • 1/2 thin-crust pizza with béchamel sauce, garlic, caramelized onions, portobello mushrooms, basil, brie
  • 1/2 caprese salad with tomatoes, basil, mozzarella
  • sticky date pudding topped with chocolate chunks, with homemade vanilla gelato

 

The next day was Saturday, and we were up early for kayaking. Our river kayaking trip was led by two experienced kayakers and nature lovers, who came to pick us up from the Byron Bay visitor centre (close to the hostel). We spent the morning on the water, watching the sun rise, and enjoying the company of Aussie wildlife. I particularly liked learning about the Aboriginal history of this region. It was also refreshing to meet other travellers: a pair from the UK, a group of friends from Sydney, and a new-to-Byron couple.

Thanks to all the excitement of kayaking, my stomach wanted some food! Fortunately, we stopped at a cafe, where we were treated to drinks. I ordered a chai latte (deliciously peppery, made with milk and honey) before we headed back to the city.

For brunch, Grace and I hit up Bayleaf Cafe, a consistent and well-known breakfast/lunch place. They are famous for their meals, which straddle the line between breakfast and lunch.

  • 1/2 mango, banana, berry, acai, coconut cream smoothie
  • sweet potato flatbread topped with kale, roasted beets and carrots, cauliflower puree, 2 garlic fried eggs

Is it breakfast? Is it lunch? Mysteries.

Since our snorkelling trip was cancelled, we had plenty of time to explore. We walked to a number of places, including Tallows Beach, Captain Cook’s Lookout, Fisherman’s Lookout, and more. It was absolutely mesmerizing to watch the crystal-blue waves crash into the rocks, and see the ant-sized surfers ride the waves below. I could’ve stayed here for ages, enjoying the sunshine and warm breeze.

Also, I’m grateful for the selfie stick that Dad bought for me before I came to Australia! It might’ve looked silly, but it sure came in handy.

Next up, we walked over to the lighthouse. The lighthouse of Byron Bay is an absolute must-visit – you can’t come to Byron without walking over to the lighthouse. The lighthouse trail led us to a secluded beach called Little Watego’s Beach, and we also stood at the most easterly point of Australian mainland. That was awesome! And probably the closest I will be to my family for the next few months. :’)

I. Love. Sunsets.

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Another afternoon, another disappointment! I got a phone call that night (and an email shortly after) – our hot air ballooning trip was also cancelled. I was devastated about this, because, well… who doesn’t want to go on a hot air balloon?!

Luckily, we got the refund, but I’d rather be floating over Australia. Funny enough, this is the third time that I’ve planned to go on a hot air balloon. Once in Nepal, again in Cambodia, and now. All three times, it’s been cancelled due to inappropriate weather conditions. Is the universe telling me something?!

Dinner, however, was NOT a disappointment! In fact, it was the dead opposite of a disappointment. It was glorious. I made the reservation for St. Elmo’s Bar and Restaurant, which is known for Spanish tapas.

Grace and I shared the following.

  • seared scallops, charred leek and preserved lemon puree, romesco sauce, migas (I’m a big fan of scallops and loved the flavours, textures, and presentation of this dish.)
  • fried potatoes, salsa brava, garlic aioli, smoked paprika salt (had I been dining alone, I would’ve never ordered the potatoes. I’m glad we did, however, because they were hands-down some of the best potatoes I’ve ever tasted. Flavourful but not salty, these slightly-spicy, garlicky, rich potatoes were unforgettable.)
  • seared local cuttlefish, kipfler potato, olives, orange, mint, smoked paprika, saffron aioli (not a calamari fan, but these were quite soft and tender.)
  • slow-cooked lamb, butter-braised asparagus, homemade Greek yogurt sauce, pistachio dukkah (I haven’t had lamb for ages, but this melt-in-your-mouth dish tasted amazing with St. Elmo’s homemade labneh and contrasted with the crunchy pistachios.)

Finally, dessert:

  • hazelnut chocolate custard tart, vanilla crema catalan sauce, strawberry mousse, crispy hazelnut praline (ate this myself and loved each bite. Would 100% recommend, and order again!)

Before we knew it, it was already time to head back to Brisbane. We slept in (had three and a half hours of sleep the night before!) and had a lazy walk around the shops before settling on Dip Cafe for brunch.

I made quite a few substitutions on the Big Vegetarian Breakfast for an incredible customized brekkie. The smoked salmon was unbelievably tender, and the roast pumpkin extra flavourful. I also loved the creamy ricotta on organic sourdough toast, which was sprinkled with a generous amount of pecans and honey.

  • 1 chai tea latte with milk and honey (the best yet!)
  • 1 large breakfast plate with 3 (?) scrambled eggs, 2 pieces halloumi, smoked salmon, 2 pieces organic sourdough topped with ricotta, pecans, and honey, spiced baked beans, arugula with tomato salsa, roast pumpkins and roast tomatoes with wilted spinach
  • 1 scoop Nutella and peanut butter gelato (unpictured)

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Time to head back home! I fell asleep on the bus on the way back to Brisbane. Despite being the Commonwealth Games, our shuttle bus made it back on schedule.

Before coming to Australia, I never followed the Commonwealth Games. I don’t watch all the events, but follow my favourite athletes, including female Canadian artistic gymnasts. I was thrilled to find out about Daley and Goodfellow’s Commonwealth gold. With his outspoken nature, particularly towards athletic diversity and LGBT+ rights, Tom Daley is easily one of my favourite athletes.

Last night, I headed to a restaurant for dinner since I didn’t want to cook. I finally got to check Mu’ooz off of my restaurant bucket list. Mu’ooz is an Eritrean restaurant and social enterprise. As you may know, I adore supporting restaurants and spas with a good cause. I think it’s essential to support people by providing skills, rather than money – it’s more sustainable.

👆 I could write a dissertation on this.

Anyways! I devoured this meal, which was so spicy that I cried (I’m the world’s biggest spice wimp). The dessert was memorable: crispy freshly-fried Ethiopian donuts made with soy milk, flour, and sugar, with a hint of orange, topped with vanilla ice cream. More ice cream would’ve made this even better, but I was full and satisfied. 🙂

  • spicy Eritrean mushroom and red/green bell pepper stew, 2 large pieces sourdough injera, mixed green salad
  • 4 crispy African donuts, 1 scoop vanilla ice cream

I wish you a delicious rest of the week!

I Tried Vegemite!

Good morning, everyone! Hope you are all having a fantastic week so far. I’m writing this on a Monday morning, and I have one more week of no school (yay!) before classes pick up again. I’m loving my restful mid-semester break.

I actually have an essay to work on right now. Which is why I’m blogging instead.

On a much more positive note, I am head-over-heels in love with a place called Noosa Chocolate Factory. They make the richest, most chocolate-y hot chocolate using 56% cocoa. It’s a cross between milk chocolate and dark chocolate, so it straddles the line between sweet and bitter. I adore it, and downed two cups last week. With extra chocolate while I was browsing the store.

Recent meals have been healthy and tasty. For lunch yesterday, I ate:

  • 1/5 Botanica salad (potato, pea and dill salad, kale with tomato sumac, grains with seeds, Israeli couscous with pesto, chickpea and carrot with curry dressing)
  • 2/3 spinach goat cheese egg tart
  • 1-egg omelet with provolone
  • 1/2 vegan Lamington from the farmers market (dessert unpictured)
  • 1/2 vegan cookie dough cheesecake from the farmers market (dessert unpictured)
  • 1.5 scoops light Greek yogurt, honey-roasted cashews

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Similar but different: I had two of the spinach and goat cheese egg tarts. I’m really proud because I made them myself. I heat them up on the stovetop instead of the oven, so the bottom gets nice and crispy (okay, burned, because I don’t watch the heat). Either way, this is one of my favourite lunches. I love the salad combo, especially the vegan pesto couscous salad, and it tastes great with the buttery tart shell with spinach and goat cheese.

I’ve been looking at planning a trip for the mid-semester break. Originally, I thought about booking it with a tour, such as Adventure Dudes or something like that, but I ended up finding a friend who was equally interested in travelling to a local beach town called Byron Bay. We ordered bus tickets and reserved spots in a beachside hostel. I’m pretty excited! We leave on Friday morning and come back Sunday afternoon, so I’ll be sure to take plenty of photos.

I really want to visit this cafe, called Anouk, but I don’t know what I’d order! The apple stuffed french toast sounds divine, as does the breakfast masala. Truthfully, I’d be happy ordering any one of these dishes. What would you order from this renowned breakfast place?

These photos are from a place called the Roma Street Parklands. It’s a beautiful botanical garden.

I took so many photos, and loved watching the water dragons and birds. The plantlife (and wildlife!) here in Australia is drastically different from that of North America. It’s almost miraculous how differently flora and fauna react to existing in different biomes. I love it.

Another day, I went shopping in the downtown area of Brisbane. There, I contemplated buying a new tank top, but I already have quite a few shirts. And this was expensive. Why does Lululemon, and other recreational sportswear brands, have to be so pricey? Like, I’m a student. I’m poor. Must be nice to own a couple $150 leggings though. :’)

A couple random snippets of my life:

  • walking beside the river into the main part of the city
  • a note written to me from an Apple store employee who helped me connect my devices to Bluetooth (she gave me recommendations for places/restaurants in Brissy)
  • April 1st joke by Google Maps – Waldo!
  • King George Square at sunset

One day, I visited Sourced Grocer. It’s an organic grocery store and cafe, famous for their simple but delicious brunch dishes. I dined al fresco, which I adore.

Here is my cabbage pancake, which is topped with a smear of goat cheese, heavily roasted garlic broccoli, a poached egg, and parmesan cheese. On the side, I had a slice of sourdough bread with vegemite, and a rye crumpet with honeycomb and whipped butter.

First of all, the crumpet was divine. Perfectly airy, sweet, buttery. I’d eat this one thousand times. The honeycomb was exquisite, and the flies outside agreed. The cabbage pancake was perfect – crispy, yet tender pancake, beautifully-flavoured charred broccoli that added crisp, and creamy cheese. Of course, the egg was also poached to perfection and added lovely flavour to the other ingredients.

But most importantly! The vegemite. I thought:IMG_7922

  • it wasn’t as bad, or as powerful, as I’d expected
  • I’d really braced myself for the worst-possible tasting condiment, so when I tried it, I was pleasantly surprised!
  • I think people might make the mistake of smearing the entire glob onto their toast (like I would with Nutella or peanut butter), which would make it far too potent, but I used plenty of whipped butter and just enough vegemite
  • definitely something that you start off with a little of (like spicy condiments), and build your way up
  • in terms of flavour, it is rich and salty – reminding me somewhat of condensed, thickened soy sauce with a deeper, slightly bitter aftertaste

Afterwards, I had another typical Aussie treat: vanilla ice cream with milo! Milo is a malted powder (like Nestle hot chocolate mix) that you’d mix with milk or water. This came with crunchy milo cereal pieces. Interestingly, this ice cream was made with nitrogen, making it super creamy and gelato-like – which I love. I prefer the texture of gelato to the texture of ice cream any day.

More photos of Brisbane’s astonishing plantlife ❤

I guess that’s it! I’m going to go wash my tea mug – I’m obsessed with chai lattes. I’ve had a chai latte every morning, religiously, for the past two weeks. I actually shared the chai latte recipe on my last blog post if you’re curious. But let me say it again. I. Love. Chai.

Have a delicious week!

Delicious Cambodian Meals and Bokor National Park

On our last day in Siem Reap, Dad, Grandpa, and I had dinner at HAVEN.

  • I ate the fish amok, which was the #1 fish amok that I’ve eaten in Cambodia so far. It was perfectly curried and coconut-scented, with just enough lemongrass, ginger, and chili to add flavour without overwhelming the delicate fish. Best of all, the amount of rice paired perfectly with the amount of amok.
  • Grandpa’s lok lac included vegetables, a fried egg, and plenty of peppery sliced beef.
  • Dad enjoyed the calamari with lime aioli, as well as a bacon cheeseburger with fries.
  • For dessert, I loved the banana bread with coconut crumble and mango-passionfruit ice cream, which I swapped with Dad’s caramel ice cream.

The next day, we had breakfast in Phnom Penh since we took a night bus. We ate in Raffles Hotel, where we had the breakfast buffet. I ate mango yogurt x2 and two blueberry muffins, along with two delicious Cambodian baguette sandwiches with fish pate, fresh dragonfruit, cheddar cheese, banana bread, and a very tasty slice of toasted rye with butter and papaya jam.

Before we knew it, we arrived in Kampot, which was a 30-minute tuktuk ride to our hotel in Kep. Our hotel was truly a tropical resort, with too many palm trees to count and two sparkling pools.

On our first day, we spent time at the Kep National Park. We walked for around 25 minutes before turning around to walk back down the hill. Despite completing just a small amount of the trail, we were rewarded with a lovely view.

That day, we liked our dinner at The Sailing Club. The photos did not turn out as expected since it was quite dark, but it was incredibly tasty nonetheless.

  • spicy Khmer chicken noodle soup
  • garlic baguette
  • crab cakes with spicy aioli and fresh vegetables
  • fresh white fish with vegetables and spicy garlic coconut sauce, steamed jasmine rice – this was mine, and it was hands down one of the top three savoury things I’ve ever eaten. The flavourful coconut sauce on the tender, flaky fish, paired with plenty of gently-sautéed vegetables and rice was heavenly.
  • cheeseburger for Dad (unpictured)
  • crispy fried banana with coconut ice cream and caramel sauce

The next day, we loved our brunch at La Baraka. We started with drinks, as usual, and I ordered tea with milk and sugar. Our meals arrived shortly after:

  • shrimp fried noodles in a pineapple for Grandpa
  • Croque Madame with fries for Dad (I tried some of his Croque Madame, and it was delicately fried and loaded with flavour from the ham and cheese enveloped within)
  • two fried eggs, bacon, salad, bread, and pineapple juice for me
  • garlic bread to share
  • dessert of chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream

Next, we went to Bokor National Park. It was a 90-minute drive from our resort in Kep. We had the opportunity to explore the legendary buildings from Cambodia’s colonial days, but were sad to miss the waterfall which is only “active” during rainy season.

I learned: Established by the French as a hill station in 1925, Bokor has been abandoned twice, during World War II and the Khmer Rouge period. The area including Bokor ‘mountain’ was established as a national park in 1993, with its 1,500 square kilometres spanning four Cambodian provinces. Despite substantial illegal logging, it’s home to leopard cats, gibbons, hornbills, civets and sunbears.

The Old French Palace was hauntingly beautiful, built by French settlers before 1920 for French social elites in Cambodia.

Renovators did add a wonderful curving road to the top of the hill, making Bokor much easier to access.

Today is our last day in Kep, or Cambodia for that matter, and I will really miss this incredible country. Soon, we are heading back to Taipei for a couple days and then flying to Macau for a short period of time.

Now, Dad and I are off to visit the Kampong Trach caves and I look forward to updating with more soon.

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

My Last Time in Downtown Toronto | Delicious Desserts and More!

Happy Monday!

Most people who know me know that I adore Mondays. I think they are an excellent time to reset, bounce back from the weekend, and set new goals and new plans to achieve them. I started my Monday with a great mug of tea and a wonderful bowl of creamy peanut butter oatmeal with banana slices and the richest yogurt. 🙂

Saturday was a bit of a dark and dreary day, so I had plenty of time to type up my work term report. The co-op program at the University of Waterloo requires co-op students to write a 6-8 page reflection every semester. This time, I discussed how my current job (tutoring at Centennial College) differs from my previous job (clinical assistant at the Toronto Health Centre).

I also designed this Studying 101 booklet cover page, which was inspired by blog layouts.

Yesterday, I did a major scraping of the dryer’s lint filter. Holy cow. 🐮 I’m surprised that there were no fires due to this big mountain of lint. Crazy!

  • On the left: my backyard, which, for some unknowing reason, has a picnic bench
  • On the left: the beautiful Trinity-Bellwoods park, which is such an active and fun place (I’d love to live near this neighbourhood in the future)

I’d love to live near Trinity-Bellwoods park because Nadège is nearby. I love this bakery wholeheartedly, and have been here several times. In fact, it was my first destination on my first visit to Toronto. Everything is a winner here.

My next stop was Delysèes, home to some of the most beautiful cakes and pastries I’ve ever seen. Their pistachio croissant is one of my favourite sweet, nutty breakfast baked goods, and their macarons and individual cakes are equally stunning and delicious. The rose one is beautiful, as is the blue gemstone!

And yes, I always spend a little too much money here, thanks to my indecisiveness. Should I get the vanilla-hazelnut or the pistachio? I love hazelnut cream, but pistachio is so good. What should I do… why not just try them both?

Lunch involved some great flatbread from Forno Cultura. This one was called the Rapini, and was topped with charred, smoky rapini, garlic chips, plenty of sauteed onions, and slightly acidic tomato sauce that paired nicely with creamy, rich parmesan. The star of the show, however, was the crispy spiced crust.

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I headed to Butter Avenue for dessert, where I ordered this adorable ube chestnut choux. I’ve seen pictures of this pastry on Butter Avenue’s Twitter and Instagram, and knew I had to try it.

  • the choux pastry was like a crispy cream puff crossed with a Chinese pineapple (bolo) bun, crackly on the outside but fresh, rich, and buttery inside
  • the mashed and sweetened ube (purple sweet potato) enveloped a mountain of delicate chestnut cream, which tasted amazing with the choux
  • deep inside, there was a hazelnut sable, which was hands-down one of the best nut-based cookies I have ever eaten – now, I really want to try baking hazelnut sable
  • the snowman was made of white chocolate, and completely edible

Goodnight, Toronto.

Then I was underground again, being whisked off to Scarborough. 😥 I was exhausted by the time I returned home…

… but not too exhausted to take photos of the goodies I’d purchased! Hazelnut-chocolate sandwich cookies and hot chocolate mix from SOMA Chocolatemaker.

Hazelnut hot chocolate and malted milk hot chocolate that I absolutely cannot wait to dive into. I’ve tried them both before, and they are absolutely scrumptious. Expensive, but it’s chocolate. Justified.

The cakes that I mentioned? The ones I bought from Delysèes? This is what they looked like after a day of prancing around Toronto. Completely deconstructed, but completely edible. I can’t wait to have this Russian chocolate mousse bomb and the salted caramel and Nutella pillow. I also have a tasty, unpictured pistachio éclair hiding in that white box.

That’s pretty much it for today, except one thing – I went to the library yesterday and now have a mini-list of books to check out.

New-to-me books that I want to read:

Have a beautiful week, everyone! I am going to enjoy mine more than usual, since it’s my last week in Scarborough (and Ontario) for a whole year. ❤

When You Double The Butter

This post was hiding in my DRAFTS folder for four months! Does that ever happen to you guys? You write a post, keep it in Drafts to update another day, then completely forget about it until months later?

Probably just me. 🙈

Anyways… I executed the world’s greatest baking failure.

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See that butter up there? It’s twice as much as I should have used. 😮

Chocolate Nutella Cookies Recipe

Makes 72 cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 sticks unsalted butter, room temp (NOT 1.5 cups, NOT 340 g)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (150 g)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar (150 g)
  • 1 cup Nutella (280 g)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour (148 g)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (31 g)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Mix into the butter mixture on low speed until fully incorporated, scraping down the bottom and sides at least once to ensure even mixing.

Add chocolate chips and hazelnuts, chill 10 min: Fold in the chocolate chips and hazelnuts and refrigerate the dough for ten minutes.

Spoon onto lined cookie sheets and bake: Spoon tablespoon-sized drops of dough onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool on the sheets for a minute or two before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

They looked pretty good going in, if anything, a little too soft. They came out an absolute disaster. Completely inedible. I learned, I learned. Baking really is a chemistry. Where there’s a whisk, there’s a way, I suppose, until you use 1.5 cups of butter.

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Lunch another day: spinach and feta omelet with cherries, plus baked treats, yogurt, and coconut cookies. These coconut thins are my favourite, and many many more were devoured.

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Back when I was on my waffle kick! These were so yummy, and there was much more yogurt devoured post-photo.

Another day, Mom made chive scrambled eggs (chives from the backyard), pearl meatballs (pork, green onions, and water chestnuts, rolled in sticky rice before steaming), and fried fish. All three dishes tasted great!

I loved these “red velvet” waffles another day. I made them in the blender: beets and a mashed banana, with lots of cocoa powder, before topping them with the creamiest nut butter and hemp hearts.

This was a German apple cake slice with yogurt, and a party meal that we enjoyed at my mom’s friend’s house.

Almond cake, created by my mom. The whipped cream topping was great!

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Blueberry Almond Layer Cake with Whipped Cream

Serves 16

Cake INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups almond meal, firmly packed
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 and 1/3 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Topping and Cream INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups whipped cream
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • blueberries to decorate
  • chopped nuts, if desired, to decorate

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Grease two round pans with coconut oil, dust with almond meal, and place a piece of parchment paper on the base.
  3. Beat egg, maple syrup or honey, coconut oil, and vanilla extract.
  4. Add baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk well.
  5. Finally, add almond meal. Mix until just combined.
  6. Separate evenly into two round pans.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes, or more if needed.
  8. Remove from oven. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then place on cooling rack to cool completely.
  9. For the whipped cream, freeze bowl and mixer for 15 minutes. Whipped cream should be cold too, fresh from the fridge. Place all ingredients into chilled bowl and whip until the peaks are firm.
  10. When the cake is cooled completely, cut into two layers and spread with whipped cream, then “ice” around the outside. Decorate with blueberries, chocolate shavings, other fruit, nuts, or more.

Once, Seline and I went to Wild Rice, a gluten-free and restaurant where I enjoyed turmeric rice topped with prawns and bok choy in a garlic-coconut reduction. The sauce was otherworldly.

Seline’s crispy chicken cubes were also tasty.

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We had that meal at the Fraser River quay in New Westminster, after silks.

The quay is so, so beautiful in the sunshine.

This is a new variation that Seline and I were working on.

Our summer garden flowers are at the peak of their blossom.

Our morning walks are always so enjoyable.

New book that I’m [mostly] in love with. I finished it a while ago, and have so much to say. Has anyone read this and would like to discuss?!

Over the weekend, my family went to the Korean market, where my mom purchased $80 worth of meat (all cuts!), in addition to kimchi, fish balls, and Korean pancakes. The red bean pancakes are my favourite.

Another day, we had a fanciful Mom Dinner with all sorts of fresh dishes.

And for dessert, aunt Mimi and uncle Charles brought a chocolate mousse cake from Whole Foods.

I had all kinds of Chinese buns for breakfast that day, and the taro was my favourite, followed by red bean and chestnut.

Have a beautiful Sunday, everyone!