Charcoal Waffles ♡_♡

Mmmm, pizza. It’s been a while since I’ve had truly, truly amazing pizza and this one from Lamanna’s, an Italian bakery and hot table in Scarborough, did not disappoint. Smothered in provolone and mushrooms, the toppings were simple and tasty – but the crust, charred to perfection, was my favourite part.

Dessert? Large gelato with a scoop of pistachio and a scoop of hazelnut (check out that size compared to the little gelato spoon and my water bottle!) – followed by an unpictured lobster tail cream pastry. Talk about an amazing lunch!

Another day, I had lunch at Light Cafe in downtown Toronto, a chic and modern new spot in Baldwin Village.

The truffled mushroom croissant is their specialty, loaded with creamy truffle mayonnaise, sliced tomato, shiitake mushrooms, and lettuce. The croissant was toasted and tasted fresh. Salad was dressed in sesame, and had plenty of fresh tomatoes inside.

The soup was another highlight: rich, creamy, savoury Lobster Bisque!

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For dessert, I had to order the famous Light Cafe dish – black sesame waffles. There were four heart-shaped black sesame waffles, made with charcoal for that incredible colour, a little vial of rich sesame syrup, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a scoop of black sesame ice cream. All of it was devoured. 😇

Waffles with ice cream is hands-down one of my favourite desserts of all time, and bonus points for special-flavoured waffles like ube (purple yam, specialty of the Philippines), black sesame, or red bean.

This is one of my favourite photographs from my trip downtown. I love how 50% of it is that urban traffic look with trees in the back, and the other half is a pretty lake with trees, and apartments in the back. The contrast is cool!

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The reason for my Toronto trip? Stock. Up. On. Muffins. Since I don’t go downtown very often, and I won’t be going often anymore since it’s starting to get chilly, I bought plenty of muffins, chopped ’em into thirds or quarters, and stashed them in the freezer. These are some of the muffins I remember:

  • blueberry streusel
  • blueberry bran
  • plain blueberry
  • blueberry scone
  • lemon poppyseed
  • carrot
  • banana chocolate chip
  • mixed berry and oat
  • cornmeal
  • lemon currant scone
  • ginger scone

There were definitely more, but that’s all for the ones I can recall. 😎 Apparently, I seem to like muffins a lot?

Excitement. In the form of a delicious plate of coconut Thai green curry with broccoli, mushrooms, onion, and carrots – and in the form of a new book. Sci-fi isn’t really my genre, but this one, RUSH by Eve Silver, had me intrigued all the way through.

A trip to the library meant I took lots more snapshots of the books that are on my to-be-read list. I can’t wait to take these out and see if they’re good.

On Mid-Autumn Festival, which is like Chinese Thanksgiving, I had an incredible meal at a buffet called Dragon’s Pearl, with friends of my grandfather. I. Love. Buffets. So what did I enjoy this time?

  • yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes and gravy
  • steamed ginger and scallion fish
  • Japanese sweet egg, bean curd sushi, other assorted sushi
  • stir-fried vegetables, crispy stir-fried noodles
  • peking duck on a flatbread, with sweet and sour sauce and cucumber
  • creamy crab salad
  • crispy shrimp cakes
  • garlic mussels
  • grilled salmon and plaintains

Dessert was just as delicious.

  • tiramisu
  • green tea cake
  • sweet sesame mochi ball (favourite)
  • regular cheesecake
  • unsweetened cheesecake
  • bread pudding with golden raisins, whipped cream on top (#2 favourite)
  • English trifle
  • kiwi custard tart

Do you like buffets? I’m a sucker for variety, so I adore buffets!

One morning, I had some quiet time to myself in the office so I started designing a new poster for the Integumentary System, which is the system about human skin, hair, and nails.

Totally random note here. This is such a beautiful logo! I like graphic design a lot and want to learn more about designing lettering.

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Speaking of graphic design, I’m creating a PDF doc of Anatomy-related study tips. The entire study guide is written out now, but I’m figuring out how I’d like to design the other pages. What do you think?

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That’s pretty much it for today, guys. Hope you all have the most wonderful rest of the week. 🙂

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?

Toronto’s Best Ice Cream?

How is it MAY already?

Let’s talk food!

I tried Venezuelan food, from El Arepazo in the Kensington Market, for the first time and loved these arepas stuffed with fried plantains, queso, black beans, avocado, and fresh tomato. Next time, I will add hot sauce!

The London Fog tea latte from Moonbean Cafe in Kensington Market is the #1 tea latte I’ve ever had, hands down. I’m drooling for this mug right now.

Sunset on Sterling road, the magical little street that takes me to Cirque-ability where I practice aerials.

Mmmmm, desserts! I bought these from Thobors. This was:

  • almond paste tart with peach slices
  • chocolate hazelnut mousse cake that tasted like ferrero rocher in a cake form

I went to Pomegranate Restaurant to try Iranian food for my first time on Friday night. This was their famous fish, which involved boneless chicken breast in a stew made of crushed walnuts and pomegranate syrup. I’ve never had anything like this before, and loved it. Though, I wish I had more of the yellow saffron rice.

Dessert was this saffron ice cream, which, sadly, tasted like frozen rose shampoo.

I had the BEST Indian dinner at Banjara! Cassie – look! I had Indian food! This was delicious and featured:

  • vegetable pakora (fried)
  • yellow lentil dahl
  • palak paneer (spinach and cottage cheese curry) –> my #1 favourite Indian dish of all time
  • aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower curry)
  • rice pudding with cardamom, carrots, and cinnamon
  • curry basmati rice

All this… for around $13?!

For dessert, I went crazy for this caramelized peanut butter cookie with two scoops of ice cream: totarn (ube, or purple yam) and one scoop of cinnamon toast. Cinnamon toast ice cream? Purple yam ice cream? If you’ve never had them, you need to try. And also, this peanut butter cookie was mind-blowingly delicious. One of my dessert highlights of my Toronto life.

Life back home in BC… oh, and I finally got new shoes! My toes were starting to peep out of my old ones. These black shoes were on discount from Nordstrom, and are ridiculously comfortable.

A breakfast to remember: banana oats in a cashew butter jar, yogurt, blackberries, and a slice of oat banana bread. YUM!

For the last two/three weeks in Toronto, the only things in my fridge were cheddar cheese and vegetables – and the one thing in my pantry was quinoa. With that, I made vegetable quinoa casseroles about 3-4 times during my last month in Toronto, but I never grow sick of it. This square featured wilted spinach, little carrots and corn, peas, quinoa, and creamy, sharp cheddar.

One bucket list item checked off – I finally went to Maha’s, an Egpytian restaurant, for brunch! It was a Sunday afternoon, so I should have expected a long wait. Ended up waiting from 1:00 to 2:30 before getting into the restaurant, which only seats 24 people. This plate features some Egyptian balady bread, Turkish cheese, a spinach falafel, sliced hard-boiled egg, and creamy beans. The little cup on the right was full of spices and raw cucumber, peppers, and tomato. It was a superb meal that I thoroughly enjoyed, but I wouldn’t wait 1.5 hours for it again.

I followed up that meal with some desserts. Two, to be exact…

  • one chestnut mousse cake with walnut sponge, wrapped in milk chocolate
  • one earl grey tea latte
  • one pistachio and chocolate croissant

After the Egyptian brunch, and the desserts, AND the mug of tea, it was hard to walk because I was so full!

 

Now that summer is on the horizon, I can’t wait to make tasty salads like this one. I have pesto – I just need to buy some arugula, peppers, penne, and cheese/tofu!

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I will miss Toronto’s massive selection of restaurants.

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But I am glad to be back in school!

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Have a delicious week, friends 🙂

Gratitude

Toronto is truly a funny city. Not in a ‘ha-ha, what a joke’ kind of funny – but an unusual, strange, or peculiar way. What do I mean by that? There was a rainy snowstorm three days ago. Today, we have sun with a high of 22 degrees. What?!

Regardless, this morning the sun was beaming into my apartment and gave me a moment to reflect on what I’m grateful for.

I’m grateful for getting back into yoga!

I’m grateful for being able to live in Toronto in a beautiful, sun-bathed (and messy, because I didn’t bother to clean it before pictures) apartment.

I’m grateful for delicious gelato, like this cup full of pistachio-rosewater and peanut-sesame.

I’m grateful for my 17 year-old sister, Seline, who took a printout of my face to London when she travelled to Europe two weeks ago. Happy National Sibling day!

I’m grateful for having a sister who is so incredibly artistic. From photography to sculpting to oil painting to creative writing to poetry, Seline is a master of it all.

I’m grateful for the Kensington Market in Toronto. Their ice cream is the BOMB. Chocolate Oreo and vegan salted caramel (made with coconut milk) were a few of the choices from Sweet Olenka’s.

I’m grateful for oatmeal.

I’m grateful for living in a multicultural, super diverse part of the city. Yesterday, I enjoyed a cheese empanada, spicy tomato salsa, and a humita (mashed corn with onions and basil) from Jumbo Empanada, a Chilean cafe.

I’m grateful for curry. Thai yellow curry, to be exact! The best healthy, filling make-ahead food that tastes better in the days to come. This stew was loaded with broccoli, butternut squash, mushrooms, and eggplant, and served over quinoa. I actually made this a few days ago, on the same day that Cassie debuted this incredible kabocha and mushroom Thai yellow curry. Foodie minds think alike?

There’s a lot more that I’m grateful for, but I don’t have any photos to show for it at the moment.

What are YOU grateful for?

I Miss Vancouver! {Earls // Breka // Nuba // Soirette}

Before I went to Waterloo, I had some fun foodie adventures with family and friends. Sorry for the late photos and post – these have been hiding in my Drafts box for over half a year!

One Sunday morning we went to Earls for brunch. Click here to see our first meal at Earls! We were served complimentary cranberry muffins that were topped with powdered sugar. I had a bite of this muffin, which was tasty!

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Seline ordered the margherita pizza, which she thought was delicious as usual. This was her third or fourth time ordering this pizza at Earls!

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Dad had their special cheeseburger with truffle fries. We still prefer the truffle fries from the Sandbar, though.

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Mom decided on the Mediterranean linguine with grape tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, and parsley.

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The Kung Pao noodle bowl for Grandpa! These noodles were tossed with tofu, carrots, peppers, cucumber, cilantro, and topped with sesame seeds.

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I had the eggs florentine with two poached eggs, mushrooms, spinach, creamy parmesan sauce, and polenta. The polenta was my favourite part! This was served with a slice of sourdough bread for dipping, but I didn’t find it necessary.

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One afternoon, Seline and I enjoyed desserts at Breka Bakery in downtown Vancouver. I chose two and rated them…

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1Not good 2Okay/Decent 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6Incredible! Must-try and would order again

Chocolate Almond Croissant: 1.5/6

  • Thick and chewy, reminiscent of a Costco or Superstore croissant
  • Not at all flaky or shatter-y
  • Quite dense, no prominent butter flavour
  • Outside: large amount of sliced almonds, thin drizzle of semisweet chocolate, and a generous sprinkle of powdered sugar
  • There was no almond paste inside
  • Layer of chocolate flat “balls” inside, like M&Ms without the shell: not entirely melted
  • Scant amount of chocolate inside
  • Mostly I disliked the texture of the croissant, because I think they should shatter and be very flaky/buttery. I was also disappointed with the filling, which was only chocolate. The only almonds here were the almond slices on top.

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This was the white chocolate cheesecake, which I enjoyed quite a lot!

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White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake with Pecan Crust: 4.5/6

  • Great white chocolate flavour
  • Cheesecake part was not too sweet nor too tangy
  • White chocolate tasted great with the slightly sour raspberries and nutty crust
  • Thin layer of raspberry at the bottom
  • Two raspberries on top – I liked how there was no sugary glaze on top
  • Whipped cream was flavourless and bland, probably store-bought
  • Whipped cream made in-house with some vanilla would be better
  • Crust was nutty and buttery, great texture and not too crumbly

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Another day, I had dinner with Rachel from Moments with Rae. We went to Nuba downtown after I finished a day of volunteering at the aquarium.

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Nuba is famous for healthy and delicious Lebanese food. The restaurant was busy, but not crowded.

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I ordered chicken kebabs with hummus. They were good, but not super memorable. I’m not big on chicken, so I wouldn’t recommend these. 😦

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This was another thing I ordered: halloumi cheese with tomatoes, basil, honey, and walnuts. The cheese was chewier and more rubbery than I’d expected. It was like a cross between mozzarella in terms of texture, and feta for flavour. A little salty for my taste, but the chopped herbs and sweet nuts balanced it out pretty nicely.

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Rachel’s tabbouleh was loaded with parsley!

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After a long day at the aquarium, I stopped by Soirette in Coal Harbour where I met Mom and Seline.

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I ordered one chocolate ganache macaron and one pistachio macaron.

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Essentially I wanted to come to Soirette to try Vancouver’s best macarons before leaving for Paris. Now that I’m back, though, I can say that although I’ve tried some of the best macarons in Paris and Van, these still aren’t my thing. 😦

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The chocolate one was good but could’ve had a more pronounced chocolate flavour with a hint of nuttiness. This was a little plain for me. The pistachio was excellent and had notes of white chocolate. I liked the pistachio macaron much more! To be honest, I liked Soirette’s pistachio macaron more than the famous pistachio macaron from Laduree in Paris.

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That is it for now, everyone! Have a delicious week 🙂