Winter Break in Pictures

It’s almost the new year! Which means it’s time to clean out all my old photos. And what better way to do so than to upload them all here?

Lunch at Boston Pizza with the family. Featuring cheesy garlic bread over seven-cheese ravioli, shrimp tacos and fries, and sun-dried tomato and chicken quesadillas with sweet potato fries.

The cheesiest pasta, made at home with jarred marinara, topped with fresh mozzarella cheese and served with buttery parmesan naan bread and spicy sautéed broccoli.

Roasted potatoes and broccoli with baked maple-soy salmon over rice, and some time at a local coffee shop (Coffee and Vanilla) with high school friend Joanne.

I’m kind of in love with Costco’s stuffed peppers. These were served with plenty of Parmesan cheese (more added after, of course), sautéed carrots and asparagus, and fresh corn on the cob stir-fried with green onions.

More time at a coffee shop, this time with high school friend Medha at Juillet Café.

Another day, I enjoyed leftover roasted broccoli, chopped up into an egg scramble with freshly-grated Gouda. The toast was extra special, being Mom’s favourite brioche bread with butter.

One more coffee shop: yesterday, I spent time with the lovely Rachel at The Birds and The Beets, where we chatted over some great dishes. I loved the cheddar-filled egg scramble with spicy mayo and greens in my breakfast sandwich, and Rachel had homemade yogurt with granola and jam.

Guys. I read a new, obsession-worthy book! Initially, I forced my sister to buy and read Scythe by Neal Shusterman over the summer, and she obliged reluctantly. Unfortunately, she wasn’t a big fan. I finally read it myself this winter and fell in love with the beautiful, futuristic world and captivating concept. If Neal Shusterman and Suzanne Collins (author of the Hunger Games trilogy) were given the same prompts – futuristic North America, teenage boy and girl in a deadly competition, justification for murder, modernized Roman weapons, archaic Greek and Roman names, malicious and all-seeing government à la Big Brother of 1984 – you’d end up with two incredibly different, yet similar, tales: Scythe by Shusterman and The Hunger Games by Collins.

Here’s the synopsis on the inside cover of Scythe:

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control. Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

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Onto an entirely different thing: party food! Mom and I made Christmas Eve dinner for friends and family, including a special chocolate cheesecake, crackers with Laughing Cow cheese, hummus, and maple smoked salmon nuggets, stir-fried veggies, a seasoned turkey with gravy, baked potatoes, and almond banana muffins.

Finally, Mom made these pearl meatballs, a Chinese dish that involves ground pork, ginger, green onions, and spices, with glutinous rice rolled overtop before steaming. These are one of my favourite Chinese meat dishes, particularly with purple yam underneath while steaming.

There was a bit of experimentation in the kitchen, where Seline and I tried to make Ricardo’s checkerboard cake. It was fun to make (and an absolutely painstaking process), but didn’t turn out as expected – hence the lack of photos of the finished product. It tasted good though, but how could it not, with homemade buttercream frosting, homemade pound cake, and homemade caramel?

Checkerboard Cake

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

Caramel

  • 3/4 cup sugar (150 g)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup 35% cream/heavy cream

Frosting

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (170 g)
  • 2 cups icing sugar (250 g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cake

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (226 g)
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar (250 g)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour (256 g)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp more milk
  • cocoa for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Caramel: Cook sugar and half the water until mixture is golden brown. Add remaining water and cream. Simmer 2 minutes. Cool completely and set aside.
  2. Frosting: Beat all frosting ingredients together until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Cake: preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Butter two 9×5 inch loaf pans.
  5. Cream butter and sugar.
  6. Add eggs, vanilla, and beat until smooth.
  7. Combine flour and baking powder.
  8. Stir dry ingredients into previous mixture, alternating with milk.
  9. Divide batter in half.
  10. Add cocoa powder and extra milk into one portion of the batter. Mix gently.
  11. Spread chocolate batter into one loaf pan.
  12. Spread vanilla batter into the other loaf pan.
  13. Bake in the middle of the oven for approx. 40 minutes, until a knife comes out clean. Cool.
  14. Remove from pans. Slice off the rounded top of the cake.
  15. Slice cake in half horizontally.
  16. Layer slices alternately of chocolate and vanilla.
  17. Spread caramel between each layer, so they stick together. Level the sides of the cake.
  18. Slice the cake vertically into three long pieces.
  19. Lay a slice of the cake flat, and cover with caramel. Layer with remaining slices, alternating the colours to form a checkerboard with caramel between each layer.
  20. Frost the cake with a very thin layer with a spatula. Chill for 20 minutes in the fridge. This is a crumb coat which will prevent chocolate crumbs from appearing on the frosting.
  21. Spread the remaining frosting.

That’s it, guys – happy rest of 2017! 🙂

Marché With Rae

Not too long ago, I spent some time with Vancouver blogger friend Rachel. Rachel has been super busy lately, finishing her first year of university, returning from a monthlong trip to Europe, and getting ready for the new school year.

We met up at Le Marché St. Georges, a quaint, homey cafe and market with a fairly extensive coffee bar, patisserie, and brunch/lunch food options.

Side note: for stunning photography and snippets of life, you’ll have to take a look at her Instagram. Otherwise, for mouthwatering food photos (especially ice cream!), visit her foodie Instagram.

Rachel ordered the Crepe of the Day, which featured marinated mushrooms, goat cheese, and arugula, all enveloped by a toasty buckwheat crepe. I had a London Fog, which looked adorable in a 12 oz bowl, followed by the most delicious asparagus and asiago quiche (chard salad on the side).

Despite sitting outside on this hot, hot day, I was completely infatuated by my hot, creamy, crispy quiche. The asparagus was tender, the eggs sharp and flavourful, thanks to the asiago. My favourite part of the quiche was the crust, which tasted fresh, buttery, and flaky – an easy 10/10.

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Of course, no get-together would be complete without dessert!

At Earnest Ice Cream, a Vancouver staple just a few blocks away, we sampled some of their flavours and enjoyed one scoop of espresso flake (Rachel) and cookies and cream (me).

It was hard to decide between cookies and cream, London Fog, oatmeal brown sugar, and some other unique and flavourful options.

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Rich, creamy, just-sweet enough, studded with texture – I’m in love. The quality is absolutely stellar.

My “Winter in BC To-Do List” is already growing. I need this sesame shaved ice in my life!

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Then we parted ways!

Previous meet-ups with Rachel:

  1. The first time we met, we had croissants, coffee, and hummus toast at Matchstick Coffee Roasters (alongside our mothers)
  2. Salad for lunch at Railtown Cafe, followed by incredible Soft Peaks ice cream and shopping at Daiso
  3. Brunch at the trendy Cafe Medina, where we had super unique lattes and shared Mediterannean brunch specials
  4. Incredible vegan brunch and special brownies at Heirloom Vegetarian
  5. Lebanese dinner at Nuba
  6. And now, brunch/lunch at Le Marché St. Georges with ice cream from Earnest 🙂

I miss you already, Rachel! Here’s to many more delicious meals and great conversations. ❤

Life of Pumpkin Pie

This is going to be a pretty lame post. It’s 8:15 AM and I have class soon! Speaking of classes, I can’t believe that the semester is nearly over. Just another four days to get through before classes are all done… wha?!

Anyways, Volunteering Solutions shared my Nepal paragliding photo as an ad! I thought that was pretty cool.

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And last night, I received my aerial silks photographs that were taken by Alexa Baker at Brass Butterflies. She took some great shots and you can see more on my aerial silks page. Normally the lighting in the studio is pretty horrendous, but Alexa had some cool lights that made the photos look shadowy and professional. 🙂

This is my tentative schedule for January – April, once I move to Toronto for my first co-op. I will be working at the Toronto Health Centre!

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Finals will be over in 18 days. The countdown begins!

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So many ideas for my first work term!

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I’ve still been keeping track of my finances. Last weekend, when I was in Toronto for the case competition, I definitely spent more than I should have. I will need to start saving this month.

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I’ve also been recording everything I’ve been eating. This was for the entire month of November. I did this to get an idea of how many fruits and veggies I eat every day. I knew I wasn’t eating as much veggies as I should, and this definitely helped to confirm. Any ideas on how to incorporate veggies into lunch?

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Here are some great pumpkin (maybe fall would be a better word) recipes that were a HIT to me recently!


The Best Vegan Pumpkin Pie Hot Chocolate

Serves 1

You’ll need…
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tbsp sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1.5 tbsp vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 sprinkle cinnamon
  • 1 sprinkle pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tiny sprinkle salt
Cook all ingredients over medium heat on the stovetop, or in the microwave, until the chocolate chips have melted. Serve hot!

Vegan, Gluten-Free Creamy Pumpkin Pie Bars
Serves: 9
Ingredients
CRUST
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (168 g) almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp (24 g) coconut sugar
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) maple syrup
  • 4-5 Tbsp (60-75 ml) melted coconut oil
FILLING
  • 2 3/4 cups (475 g) pumpkin purée
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup (48 g) coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp (18 g) coconut flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • sprinkle cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and line an 8×8-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. Mix all crust ingredients together.
  3. Add crust to the parchment-lined baking dish and shake to evenly disperse, then lay down parchment paper on top and use a flat-bottomed object (such as a liquid measuring cup or drinking glass) and pressing down to pack the crust into place, making an even, firmly packed layer.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Whisk all filling ingredients together.
  6. Once the crust is baked, pour the filling into the crust and tap on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake for 50 minutes – 1 hour. The filling will still be just a bit jiggly, dark orange in color, and have some cracks on the top – this is normal.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool completely before loosely covering with plastic wrap or foil and transferring to the refrigerator to fully set for 4-6 hours, preferably overnight.
  8. Once cooled, gently lift bars out of dish and slice into 9 bars. I also sliced the edges off mine for appearance, but this is optional.
  9. Serve with an additional sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or pumpkin pie spice (optional). Store leftovers in the refrigerator up to 3 days, though best when fresh.

One-Bowl Healthy Carrot Muffins

Serves 12
INGREDIENTS
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or melted coconut oil
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • ground ginger or grated ginger (about 1/4 tsp, to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup brown sugar
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Whisk all ingredients except flour.
  3. Carefully add flour, and mix just to combine.
  4. Divide into 12 muffin tins, lined or greased with coconut oil. Bake for 18 minutes.
  5. Let cool for 5 minutes, then enjoy warm or let cool for another couple of hours. Enjoy!

Before I sign out for today, remember my good blogger friend Rachel?

Today is the very last day for her campaign to raise money for children in Sudan. She is such a generous person, a great photographer, and a thoughtful friend. She is doing this instead of asking for birthday gifts 🙂

Check out her post here and definitely consider donating SOON! https://secure.hope-international.com/registrant/donate.aspx?eventid=209391&langpref=en-CA&Referrer=https%3A%2F%2Foutlook.live.com%2F

And that’s it! Happy December!

Cafe Medina: Mediterranean Brunch with a Twist

This is kind of embarrassing. Okay, it’s really embarrassing.

Rachel and I had brunch at Cafe Medina together… eight months ago. Yup, and I didn’t finish writing the post until now. Procrastination at it’s finest. 😉

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I had a square of chocolate-banana cake and some banana smeared with peanut butter. Delicious! I like my bananas topped with cinnamon too.

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Anyways, Medina is a fairly well-known place in downtown Vancouver, and they are famous for their waffles (not made in store) and creative twists on brunch classics.

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  • 604-879-3114
  • 780 Richards St. (between Robson & Georgia) Library District, Vancouver BC V6B 3A4
  • Weekdays (M-F):
    • Regular service from 8am-3pm
  • Weekends and Holidays:
    • Regular service from 9am-3pm
  • Café Medina is operated on a first-come, first-served basis — reservations are not taken and the entire party must be on site before being seated

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We arrived early and waited in line outside before the store opened, and it filled up almost right away.

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We started with hot drinks!

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

White Chocolate Pistachio Rosewater Hot Chocolate: 5.5/6

  • Very thin layer of foam/froth on top
  • Served on the hotter side of warm. Not lukewarm, but definitely not steaming, or even hot
  • Prominent white chocolate flavour, but not overly sweet
  • Made with whole milk, very creamy
  • Rose flavour was noticeable and quite fragrant
  • I could not taste the pistachios, but I detected some crushed pistachios as I was finishing my drink. They did not add any flavour to the drink

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Lavender Latte: 5/6

  • Latte very well done
  • Fragrant from the lavender
  • Aromatic

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The colours were so vibrant and insanely beautiful. I love the presentation!

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Fricassée Champignon: 2/6
2 Fried Eggs, Sherry Roasted Mushroom Ragout, Spice Roasted Potatoes, Caramelized Onions, Applewood Smoked Cheddar, Seasonal Greens with Grilled Focaccia

  • Topped with julienned radish and green apple

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Runny eggs, spicy rice, mellow and creamy avocado… this dish would be a savoury-breakfast lover’s dream.

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Paella: 2/6
1 Fried Egg, Orzo, Spicy Chorizo, Seasonal Vegetables, Grana Padano, Avocado & Spicy Charred Tomato Salsa

  • Rachel and I wanted to substitute the chorizo for something else (maybe beans?), but this wasn’t possible so we asked for it to be omitted
  • Slightly too spicy for my taste
  • Some more avocado and radishes would be appreciated
  • Grana Padano was hidden and simply broiled on top, the layer could be peeled off
  • I wish the herbs were more flavourful, because all I could taste was spice, salt, and slightly-salty tomato sauce
  • I’m not a big fan of orzo, and pasta in general
  • I was disappointed with the lack of “seasonal vegetables” in this dish – there were only some quartered zucchini chunks and a couple bell peppers thrown in for colour
  • Caramelized onions would be a great addition

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I said goodbye to the waffle bar…

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And then headed home!

Man, I miss my Vancouver friends! 😥 Hope you all had a great Valentine’s Day! I have some recipes sitting in the Drafts box that I can’t wait to share with you guys soon!

The Food-tastic Fortnight: A Must-See for Vancouver Foodies!

Happy Friday, friends!

Whew. How did that week go for you? Mine was a blur. I’ve been out and about, and in other words, I’ve returned to Waterloo, Ontario – with my dad! He will be here for 12 days in total. I’m so lucky to have him around for another week! On Monday morning, we rented a car from the local Enterprise, braved the cold a couple hundred times, bought essentials from Costco, had brunch…

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… enjoyed lattes and hot chocolate from Princess Cafe, bought a printer from Staples, and went grocery shopping at Sobeys. Dad stocked up on instant noodles, microwaveable chicken strips and fish strips, nacho chips, and croissants.

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Mom’s been a busy lady back in BC! One day, she made a roast beef with vegetables and served it with mashed potatoes and gravy. This was a popular meal, she reports 🙂 Another day, Mom made sauteed tofu with vegetables, chicken drumsticks, cucumber, and yellow turmeric rice. Dessert was cream puffs with berry, honey, and toasty coconut.

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Mom also hopped onto the baking bandwagon – here, she tried a new recipe for lemon berry muffins. These look so delicious! Wish I could try some, too.

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That’s just what’s been up lately! I didn’t post much during my winter break semi-hiatus, but I have definitely been eating. Here are some of the most memorable meals that I enjoyed out and about in Vancouver.


Lunch at Ajisai Sushi with Mom, Dad, Seline, and Grandma

Waterloo suffers from a serious sushi famine, hence my choice of Japanese food as my first meal off the plane! I originally wanted to enjoy a meal at Kishimoto Sushi on Commercial Drive, but they were closed for lunch. Instead, we lined up in Ajisai Sushi Bar for over half an hour. Poor Seline whose wisdom teeth had just been removed, skipped breakfast as usual and was one grumpy girl.

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The Seafood Salad is a very popular dish. The shrimp was my favourite part – chilled, fresh, with the perfect flavor. Cornflakes were sprinkled on top for texture, but I found this quite bizarre! The sushi was quite tasty as well. We ordered lots of California rolls for Seline!

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We also enjoyed some pressed sushi – salmon and eel, both of which were yummy. There was a hint of wasabi in the rice, which grossed Dad out. But the fish was top-notch and super fresh. The black cod was seared, and one of the most tender filets I’ve ever enjoyed in my life. The charred outsides were crispy and flavourful, but the interior was so soft and melted in my mouth. My family and I loved the black cod so much that we ordered a second one, even before finishing the first.

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Ajisai was great, but wasn’t worth the 30-minute wait. I much prefer Kishimoto Sushi for high-quality sushi and their much better presentation. 🙂


Lunch at Railtown Café with Hollie and Jia

The salad I ordered at Railtown Café was, without a doubt, the best salad I’ve ever eaten in my life. I had a dark hot chocolate and a roasted winter squash soup with that, but none of the sides even came close to the amazing salad.

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Hollie enjoyed the popular chicken club sandwich and a hot chocolate, while Jia nommed on the spinach salad with a peppermint mocha.

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My salad was a foodie’s dream: topped with avocado, sliced grilled chicken, pesto baby mozzarella, beets, feta, squash chips (delicious!), and toasted pumpkin seed vinaigrette over a bed of arugula. I savoured every bite.

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My supposedly “dark” hot chocolate wasn’t very dark, and wasn’t very rich. Keep in mind, though, I do compare every hot chocolate to the rich l’Africaine (basically, a pot of melted chocolate) that my sister and I enjoyed in Angelina’s Tea Salon in Paris. I believe this one was made with water and dark chocolate powder, because the bottom of the cup was a little grainy and powdery. I finished the whole thing, though, and enjoyed it 🙂

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For dessert, we split a peanut butter crunch bar three ways and nibbled at pinches of this hazelnut chocolate muffin, which had an excellent muffin top and great cinnamon flavor. Hazelnut and chocolate was a beautiful flavor combination, and with cinnamon, this muffin was top-notch. The PB crunch bar was too yummy for words, and I kind of need an endless supply of these guys in my life.

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I will absolutely be back, hopefully with someone with a car who can drive us past the sketchy downtown Eastside 😉


Breakfast at Beaucoup Bakery with Mom

I think I have the world’s best Mom. Ever since visiting Beaucoup Bakery late last spring, I couldn’t get this amazing patisserie out of my mind. I honestly think this place creates croissants that rivals the best of Paris, France.

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On the table today: one almond croissant, one apple pie croissant, one hot chocolate for me, and a coffee for Mom. We asked for the croissants to be cut in equal halves so we could both try both. Mom is my food friend with food benefits. Does that make sense? 😉

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My hot chocolate was fairly thick, with a hint of sea salt that cut through the sweet richness of the cocoa powder and milk. It was a little foamy on top and had the cutest, um, heart (?) on top. The hot chocolate was absolutely amazing, but I need more of these croissants ASAP!

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Lunch at Joey with Natasha, Medha, and Sally

I can’t believe it’s been half a year since I’ve seen these girls! We’ve been friends throughout high school and went through so many highs and lows together – from crying in Calculus (seriously… multiple times. Mostly me.), to slicing shark reproductive organs and bouncing their eyeballs on the floor, to making dance videos in a locked bus on a July afternoon (AKA dying of heatstroke). We even spent prom night together. 🙂 Oh, good times.

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L to R: Natasha, Sally, Medha, me! 🙂

This was the Ahi Tuna Sashimi Salad, which my friend Vivian recommended. Vivian works full-time at Joey Coquitlam, where she specializes in desserts. I can’t believe Vivian is my age – she has 50 times the talent when it comes to creating beautiful and delicious food.

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My salad was fresh and much bigger than it looks. The greens were packed in here, there was an entire half avocado, and toppings were hearty with plenty of roasted salted peanuts, tomatoes, mangoes, and crispy noodles. The wasabi sauce was fresh and gave the seared fish lots of zing. I just wish the iceberg lettuce could have been replaced with arugula or spinach, and I found the salad slightly overdressed.

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One of their most famous desserts is the apple pie: hand-rolled pastry crust with caramelized apple, nuts, and maple ice cream. We asked for this to be cut into quarters to share, and that was just the right size. The maple ice cream had a prominent maple syrup flavour, and the buttery crust was the best part. With caramel sauce and melty ice cream on the pastry, this dessert was to die for.

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The chocolate cake was sweet, decadent, and rich to the maximum. This was also split into quarters at the table, and we divided the vanilla ice cream as well. The raspberries provided great contrast to the sweetness of the chocolate. The middle was gooey perfection and I’m still drooling just by looking at that picture. Mmmmm.

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Brunch at Wendel’s with Mom, Aunt Mimi, and Uncle Charles

Mimi and Charles have been telling me about Wendel’s for over a year, but since I spent the summer volunteering at the aquarium, visiting the Sunshine Coast with my family, and living in Paris with my sister, we never got the chance to go. They raved so much about the famous French onion soup and coziness of the place that I made this the #1 place to visit during my return to BC.

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Wendel’s is located in Fort Langley, the historic part of town. It’s on such a quaint street that reminds me of uptown Waterloo. Wendel’s is connected to its own little bookstore filled with all sorts of journals, colouring books, and novels. We arrived at 9:00, when it opened, and the seats were practically full already!

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Mom enjoyed a blueberry scone and coffee, and was kind enough to share parts of her scone with me. Warm and buttery, this was one of the best scone’s I’ve had. Charles ordered French onion soup with a turkey sandwich on multigrain bread.

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Mimi’s brunch was also French onion soup, with a grilled cheese with red peppers on multigrain. She shared some of her soup with me, and oh my goodness, I can see why it’s their signature dish. Creamy cheese, rich and dark onions with a flavourful broth, I absolutely loved this dish and will be ordering it next time for sure.

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My brunch dish of choice is almost always eggs benedict. See Case 1, Case 2, and Case 3. Just can’t get enough! Do you guys like eggs benedict for brunch? I ALWAYS order it because poached eggs and Hollandaise are something that intimidate me too much to make at home, and I have a serious soft spot for biscuits and gooey egg yolk. This one had smoked salmon and beautifully poached eggs on English muffin, with potatoes. I wish they served freshly-baked biscuits instead of English muffin for their bennies, but this was still quite yummy.

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Dessert time! Wendel’s has a massive selection of sweet treats, from decadent ones to desserts that are gluten-free and vegan. We ordered four for the four of us, and one of them was the lemon meringue in a jar which was exclusively for Charles. One time, he ate TWO jars in one sitting after lunch – that’s how popular and delicious these sweets are.

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L: Coffee chocolate ganache cake

M: Salted caramel chocolate brownie cheesecake – this was my favourite 🙂

R: Bee sting cake with Bavarian cream, vanilla sponge, honey, coconut and almond topping – the contrast between layers here was incredible. Would also order this again! Would be awesome with a mug of tea or hot chocolate.

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I love Wendel’s, and so did everyone at our table. We are already making plans to return for lunch next time!


Lunch at Heirloom Vegetarian with Rachel

Do you guys know Rachel? She’s a food blogger extraordinaire, and my Vancouver food adventure buddy. We’ve enjoyed brunch together at Matchstick Coffee and Lebanese food at Nuba. I’m sure there’s another place we checked out together, but I can’t seem to remember it now! Anyways, you MUST take a look at Rachel’s blog at http://www.momentswithrae.com and be prepared to be WOWed by her stunning photography and editing skills.

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Heirloom has both a vegetarian menu and a vegan menu, and an extensive list of drinks. I started with the London Fog latte, which was unsweetened and served with a little cup of cane sugar. I was a little disappointed because although we arrived before noon, it wasn’t until 1:00 until our food came. Not a big deal, though, because we got lots of talking done!

Here’s is Rachel’s Heirloom Scramble, with organic Saskatchewan quinoa, green onion, leeks, oven roasted tomato, kale, artichoke hearts, rennet free goat cheese, topped with scrambled free range eggs tofu and salsa verde. She made a couple subs but apparently there were still bits of goat cheese in there. 😦 I tried some of her scrambled tofu and was pleasantly surprised. I have no idea how they got tofu to taste and feel “eggy”, but I’m sure nutritional yeast and turmeric were involved. Yummy!

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I was originally going for the Mushroom Hash, with caramelized onion, arugula, kale, scrambled tofu, bell peppers, and hash browns on a roasted leek puree. Unfortnately, they had just sold out and I settled on the California Hash, which came with organic Saskatchewan quinoa nut fritters, collard greens, yams, bell peppers, and hash browns, on creamy cilantro sauce, topped with seahorse dressing and pea sprouts.

“Settled on” would be the wrong words to describe this. After my first bite, I was completely blown away. Beautifully-cooked vegetables and fresh, flavourful sauce made a filling meal to remember. The quinoa nut fritters were like chewy falafels with a glorious crust, and reminded me of a cross between zucchini fritters from Paris and chickpea falafels from Thrive Energy lab. The green sauce underneath was made of cilantro and walnut, and the yellow spots are a vegan Hollandaise. I demolished this bowl and couldn’t get enough of those fritters, the sauce, and the yams. Mmmmm.

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The dessert of the day was underwhelming for me. It sounded great theoretically: vegan chocolate brownie with dates, walnuts, and almonds, and an avocado chocolate ganache served with berries. We asked for this square to be cut in half so we could share, but it turned out to be extremely filling. The “brownie” part itself was very chewy and firm, and the flavor seemed to be “off”. The avocado chocolate ganache was decent, though, and I was disappointed to see sliced apples on my plate instead of berries. I would not order this again and much, much prefer peanut butter-chocolate chip Larabars or black bean brownies for their texture and flavor.

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Thank you Rachel, for a delicious meal! What is our next destination? 😉


Dinner at The Flying Pig with Mom, Dad, Seline, and Grandpa

Have any of you seen Cirque du Soleil before? I saw one show in Montreal, Quebec in the summer of 2014 and another one right before this lovely dinner at The Flying Pig. Kooza was a funny and mega-entertaining show, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the performers and their incredible stunts. The sounds (live music!), costumes, and pure skill was unbelievable. I can’t even describe how good the show was – both this one, and the one I saw in Montreal. If you haven’t had the chance to watch Cirque du Soleil, I’m begging you to! What the human body can accomplish simply mesmerizes me every time.

Back to the food! Rachel introduced me to The Flying Pig and raved about the brunches she’s enjoyed here, so I knew that we had to stop by after the show. It certainly did not disappoint! My favourite bite was goat cheese + caramelized walnut + beet + arugula, but the seared cod was tender and equally delicious. I’m going to have to try brunch here next time!

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  1. Beet salad with arugula and goat cheese, candied walnuts
  2. Pulled pork poutine
  3. Chicken breast with asparagus and mashed potatoes
  4. Seared cod with spring vegetables

Lunch at Olive Garden Bellingham with Dad, Seline, Uncle Charles and Aunt Mimi

One of the highest-priority things on my “To-Do in BC” list was go to Trader Joe’s! And for one reason only – I wanted a jar of TJ’s SunButter. Thanks, Jack, for getting me totally addicted to the stuff! Sunflower butter is so dang delicious on bananas, in oatmeal, and on yogurt. So we drove to the states, shopped, bought clothes, got my precious jar of SunButter (which, unfortunately, had to STAY in BC because of airplane regulations), and enjoyed a meal at Olive Garden, the usual.

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I started with some chicken and gnocchi soup. Guys, I LOVE gnocchi! Have you tried it before? I’ve only ever had it a couple times from Olive Garden, and once from Wild Rice, and I enjoy ever single chewy, creamy, doughy bite. Next on my must-eat list = sweet potato gnocchi!

Dad had a customizable pasta bowl which included cavatappi pasta, crispy chicken, a spicy meat sauce, and parmesan.

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Mimi and I decided to go halfsies, and I ordered something from their “Lighter Fare” menu. Tilapia with shrimp and a butter, garlic, and white wine sauce with lots of herbs, served with broccoli. Mimi enjoyed the smoked mozzarella manicotti, and we shared. 🙂 The filling in her manicotti was delicious, and I loved my tilapia. The broccoli was really unsatisfying. Chopped into tiny florets and boiled for probably 10+ minutes, this broccoli was mushy hospital food at best. Still, broccoli is broccoli and I ate it all.

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Dessert was redeeming! Apple galette with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. I really enjoyed the flaky, buttery pastry with the cool ice cream. Would definitely order this dessert again 🙂

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Going to TJs, the Bellis Fair mall, and Olive Garden is becoming a yearly tradition for our family! I love it. Do you have any family traditions? 🙂


And, because I have no idea when else to post this – here’s Seline’s favourite recipe for macaroni and cheese. It’s super quick and easy to make, yet decadent and meets all the requirements for comfort food. For added nutrition, try adding some chopped non-hospital-mushy-like broccoli, bell peppers, spinach, asparagus, or mushrooms. You could also go the Whole Foods route and add breadcrumbs to the top, then broiling until they become crispy. Yum!

Seline’s Classic Mac and Cheese

Serves two, or one hungry teenager after school

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 oz macaroni
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup milk and ½ cup cream OR ¾ cup half-and-half and ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper, or more to taste
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (can use a mix)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Boil water, salt heavily, and cook macaroni according to package directions. Set aside.
  2. Melt butter over medium heat.
  3. Add flour, salt and pepper. Whisk until well blended.
  4. Pour milk and cream gradually and stir constantly.
  5. Bring mixture to a light boil and cook, stirring constantly.
  6. Reduce heat and cook, stirring constantly, for ten minutes or until thickened.
  7. Add shredded cheddar cheese and whisk to melt. Simmer until all cheese is melted. Taste the sauce – you can add extra flavourings here: more salt, more pepper, some spices like paprika, garlic, or maybe some Dijon mustard.
  8. Add cooked macaroni noodles to the saucepan. Stir and toss to coat with cheese sauce.

That is definitely it for today, because I have LOTS of work to get done and things to prepare for next week. Dad and I have plans to tour Toronto for two days – tomorrow and Sunday! – so I need to get ahead with schoolwork. This semester is a busy one for me, as I have seven courses: human physiology, physics, psychology (my favourite course, surprisingly), anatomy + anatomy lab, a clinical practice lab, and French. 🙂

I hope your weekend will be filled with great moments and yummy food as well!

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 🙂