Last Week in Australia

Hello! Happy Canada Day, or happy fourth of July. My sister and I are now in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (Eastern Canada), and I am writing this from the University of Prince Edward Island. My sister and I had a fantastic time in Toronto, and then a good night in Charlottetown, so I have even more photos that I’ve yet to upload. Before I show you some of the delicious eats that I enjoyed during my last week of Australia, here is a list of the activities I did, and the cafes I visited, during my four months in Australia.

Me with my landlord; vacuuming the yoga studio for the last time; delicious meal of veggies, halloumi, scrambled eggs, and falafel

List of Things I Did and Ate in Australia

FOOD-RELATED PLACES I VISITED

  • Cat and Fiddle Deli Cafe in Toowong
  • Jocelyn’s Provisions
  • Pearl Cafe
  • Mu’ooz
  • MADO Cafe and Restaurant
  • Fogata Latin Fusion
  • Anouk
  • Tartufo
  • Gauge
  • Crust & Co. Bakery
  • Harveys
  • She Bangs
  • Pourboy Espresso
  • Sourced Grocer
  • Morning After
  • Banneton
  • A Night In India
  • Corner Store Cafe
  • Campos Coffee
  • Bakers Arms
  • Chouquette
  • John Mills Himself
  • Abode Cafe
  • Bunker Coffee
  • Three Monkeys Coffee House
  • Nitrogenie
  • Pawpaw Restaurant
  • The Gunshop Cafe

FUN-RELATED PLACES I VISITED

  • Cultural Centre
  • Gallery of Modern Art
  • Queensland Performing Arts Centre
  • State Library of Queensland
  • Queensland Art Gallery
  • Queensland Museum
  • City Hall Clock Tower
  • Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens
  • City Cat ferry down Brisbane River
  • Roma Street Parkland
  • Museum of Brisbane
  • New Farm Park
  • Brisbane River walk
  • Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre
  • South Bank
  • Milton Sunday Market
  • Jan Powers Farmers Market: Powerhouse Market, City Farmers Market
  • Wheel of Brisbane
  • Streets Beach, Little Stanley Boutiques
  • Davies Park Farmers Market
  • City Botanic Gardens
  • Suncorp Stadium
  • Queen Street Mall
  • Eagle Street Pier
  • Anzac Square
  • City Centre Heritage Trail
  • BrisAsia Festival
  • Avid Reader Bookstore
  • Woolloongabba Antique Centre
  • West End (shopping)
  • Paddington
  • Science Centre
  • Fortitude Valley nooks, like Bakery Lane

Now, here are some of the things that I wanted to do. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to doing these activities or eating at these restaurants. I suppose that means I’ll have to come back to Australia in the future.

IF I HAD ANOTHER WEEK, I WOULD SEE:

  • Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
  • Eat Street Northshore Market
  • Sherwood Arboretum
  • Noosa Heads
  • Mount Coot-tha lookout
  • Story Bridge Adventure Climb
  • Spring Hill Baths
  • Australia Zoo
  • Kangaroo Point Cliffs Walk
  • Brisbane Maritime Museum
  • Moreton Bay snorkelling at Tangalooma wrecks, whale-watching

IF I HAD ANOTHER WEEK, I WOULD EAT:

  • Ecco Bistro
  • Naim
  • Cafe O Mai
  • Wild Canary
  • Lady Marmalade
  • Goodness Gracious
  • GOMA Restaurant
  • Julius Pizzeria
  • Popolo
  • Longtime
  • Merriweather Cafe
  • Marchetti Cafe
  • Double Shot New Farm
  • Gettin’ Place
  • The Yiros Shop
  • Corbette and Claude
  • King Arthur Cafe
  • The Cheese Pleaser
  • Billy Kart Kitchen
  • Flour and Chocolate Patisserie
  • Sassafras Canteen
  • Jam Pantry
  • Gertrude and Mabel
  • Scout Cafe
  • Miss Bliss Whole Foods Restaurant
  • Let Minnow
  • Lokal & Co.

This was one of the last, and most delicious things, I ate at Pearl Cafe. It was a sticky date loaf topped with date buttercream, poached pears, and honeycomb ice cream. It was a dreamy dessert with all the richness and fresh sweetness I could ask for. The ice cream, paired with soft pears and date loaf, was superb.

One weekend morning, I went to the University of Queensland yoga festival, where there were tons of food and clothes vendors, a corner for meditation, and a large outdoors yoga class. The sunny weather was perfect for some zen-time, and I enjoyed watching the yogis with a small cup of Blackdog vegan chai made with soy milk. Then, I said goodbye to the UQ campus!

You guys! How amazing does this look? From Nodo donuts, I enjoyed this homemade brioche bread topped with beet-cured salmon, a soft egg, dill foam, greens, yuzu pearls, and sorrel. The flavours were extraordinary, and it was hands-down the most unique eggs benedict-type meal I’ve ever enjoyed. I wish there was more, because that buttery toasted brioche was heavenly with a smear of brown butter hollandaise, and all the flavourful toppings. I will think about this forever.

I also had a small cup of chai and a delicious baked cheesecake with mixed berries. The crust (gluten-free) is so good, and I dare say it’s better than any gluten-containing crust I could imagine. It has a light nutty flavour that I love.

A lot of lists and schedules were made.

Goodbye, beautiful, beautiful Brisbane! The sunset was glorious one evening, and another day, Seline graduated from high school. The last image is from her commencement, where she received two big awards. The entire family was very proud of her, and she was simultaneously shocked and thrilled.

From Anouk Cafe, I loved their salmon pot pie with herb gremolata and arugula salad. For dessert, I had a buttery apple almond flour cake with sliced almonds on top, and two generous vanilla ice cream scoops. This is my favourite kind of dessert – a little fruity, made with almond meal, warm, and served with plenty of ice cream.

Another day, I had a Pearl Cafe strawberry shortcake cake, which was incredibly buttery and delicious. The strawberry jam, sandwiched between shortcake layers, provided plenty of fruity, summery flavour.

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Campos Coffee for lunch: mushroom risotto with roasted chestnuts and smoked cheese. I don’t have risotto as much as I’d like, because ravioli and gnocchi always seem more appealing, but this was divine. The smoked cheese on top was slightly melted and had such a sharp flavour that paired beautifully with the creamy rice. For dessert, I loved the peanut butter chocolate brownie, which came with raspberry puree, whipped cream, and two scoops of unpictured vanilla ice cream. The peanut butter swirl here was THICK!

One Sunday afternoon, I went to Brisbane’s Art Gallery. It was a beautiful, serene, thought-provoking place with many galleries that I thoroughly enjoyed. These were some of my favourites. The Garden of Narcissus was one of my favourites (it’s the one with the mirrored orbs on the water). According to the Queensland Art Gallery blog: clusters and constellations are formed, reflecting the building’s architecture back onto itself from an infinite number of angles. Not unlike the myth, there is a dreamy yet sinister aspect to the work — it mesmerises at the same time that it forces one to look away. I love how it blends art with architecture.

Lovely meal at home: a mix of salads, including my favourite with roasted cauliflower and date, and some quiche. One of them is a homemade tart with spinach and truffled goat cheese, and the others were purchased from Botanica. I am going to miss their quiche (the crispy, flavourful crust is unbelievable) so much.

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Finally, I had a wonderful time at aerials before I left. When packing for the plane ride, I looked at these two websites, which informed me which healthy things I could bring onto the plane. Very exciting! Then, before I knew it, I was back in Canada. 🙂

Finally, a list that I’ve been working on, ever since I arrived in Australia!

Things I Liked About My Time in Australia

  • Class and campus
    • Play area on campus for children, like a day care, whose parents are in class
    • Cover page scanner for academic submissions
    • Lecture automatically recorded and uploaded to Blackboard
    • UQ Library website has previous course exams for the last five years
    • Classes are smaller, with about 30-50 students
    • Classes are more interactive, with discussions, debates, word banks
    • Professors and other speakers honour Indigenous people, the traditional owners of the land
    • 15 libraries on campus, and many of them are open 24 hours
    • Sleeping pods in the libraries
    • Buildings are numbered, and there are signs that direct you to different buildings
    • Classes are broadcasted on a screen outside the lecture hall, so you can always be sure that you are entering the correct room
    • UQ Nav app so I don’t get lost on campus
    • Professors and other university staff answer their emails very clearly, promptly, politely
    • Many microwaves and kitchenettes
    • Largest, most beautiful campus ever!
    • Many food options on campus, and open from morning until evening (including Chatime)
    • Free ice cream during O-Fest (Orientation Week)
    • All readings are available online; do not need to purchase textbook
  • Transport
    • Excellent bike lanes, bicycle lights, pedestrian areas
    • Slow for SAM (Speeding Awareness Monitors) on small roads with a smiley face
    • Bus times projected on screens
    • Large number of buses that go everywhere
    • Stops are numbered
    • It is very clear which buses go where
    • Bus drivers are kind and interact with passengers
    • People line up to take the bus, rather than crowding around the stop
    • Bus drivers wait until everyone is seated
    • Trains have U-shaped poles, so there is extra room for guide dogs
    • Trains have security and a lot of workers supervising
    • Trains have very cushy, comfortable seats
  • No allergies at all (no sneezing, no runny nose)
  • Because it’s so hot, I sweat a lot and my pimples disappeared
  • Super colourful birds with very vibrant colours
  • Mats at C!RCA training centre are very clean
  • Farmers markets (~15-20 per week?): over 50,000 markets, festivals, and events in Brisbane each year
  • Beautiful river with great bridges and comfortable, safe river walk
  • Foam soap that smells like soap from Princess Café
  • Free outdoor gyms for adults
  • Smaller bananas
  • Kitchens, bathrooms, etc. are more environmentally-friendly
  • Vegan market, many organic/raw/vegan restaurants, and many vegan options available in restaurants/grocery stores
  • Takeout coffee culture, so everyone has little reusable glass coffee cup that they take to cafes (many cafes have Keep Cup discounts)
  • A Night in India has kind waitresses and delicious palak paneer
  • Sun rises very early
  • Accents are occasionally tricky for me to understand, so I have to listen very carefully during lectures instead of zoning out
  • Dining outside is easier and more common, with great patios
  • Many butcher shops in malls, and many of which sell meat pies
  • Casual dress
  • Tips are incorporated into the bill, so tipping is not required
  • Tap water is drinkable, and there are water fountains everywhere
  • Many garbage cans out on the street, so there is little litter
  • People are generally very laidback, friendly
  • Wi-Fi everywhere, even on the bus
  • I have a moveable shower head
  • I live close to restaurants, shopping centres, grocery stores, and a great library
  • Tax is included in prices
  • Many seasonal fresh fruits (eg. Papayas, melons)
  • Tiny asparagus and giant blueberries
  • Farmers markets are typically cheaper than grocery stores
  • Grocery stores have massive yogurt selection
  • Vibrant colours: super blue sky, very green grass
  • Unique and beautiful plant life
  • Keys to home are not fussy; easy to use
  • Live music in the valley at night (great nightlife, and a lot of bars)
  • Time difference makes it quite easy for me to chat with family (they go to sleep around my afternoon/evening), and Mom wakes up before I go to bed
  • Excellent cafes with very unique menus
  • Laundry machine will finish washing clothes in less than 30 minutes
  • Fun vendors and booths everywhere
  • I have my own bathroom
  • Early morning yoga sessions (5:30 AM session, 6:05 AM session, 9:30 AM session)
  • There are bats outside in the evening
  • Lecturers end 30-45 minutes before they are scheduled to finish their lecture
  • At the mall, you can take the shopping carts around the entire mall
    • Shopping carts have store directories, phone slot, cup holder

Things I Disliked About My Time in Australia

  • My hair becomes greasy sooner because of the heat
  • In the rain, it is so loud when the raindrops hit the metal roof
  • Bluetooth issues
  • Lecturers alternate (eg. One class has three lecturers, another has five), with many guest lecturers
  • Difficult to find entrances to buildings on campus
  • Birds are very squawky and loud
  • Rain is spontaneous
  • Cafes do not serve tea lattes (but they do have chai!)
  • Crows may swoop down and bother cyclists, so people wear helmets with zip-ties attached to the holes of the helmet
  • Fruit can be quite expensive from Fruity Capers
  • No standing desks or standing café spots
  • Buses and train rides are expensive
  • O-Fest was not as fun as I’d expected
  • Fitness centre on campus is not free; student price for 1 drop-in pass is $14
  • Bus stops to go to campus are very busy at noon on weekdays
  • During the heat wave, had to shower twice a day from the heat
  • Water tasted mineral-y when I first arrived
  • Saturday store hours are terrible, and most close at 3-4
  • Cafes close early (2-3)
  • Many places closed on Monday
  • Random spider webs can go in your face if you walk under a tree
  • Fan at home clicks loudly
  • Need vehicle to visit cool, beautiful places near Brisbane
  • Ants in the house (very fast and smart), and cockroaches
  • Library closes very early, and is closed on Sunday
  • Some cafes don’t have bathrooms, so need to walk a few houses down to arrive at construction bathroom
  • Gets dark quite early; sun sets around 5:30
  • Some online videos are unavailable in Australia
  • Difficult to find the entrance to train stations
  • SIM card plans are complex
  • Chair at home is not very comfortable or ergonomic
  • Must hail bus drivers

Neutral Differences Between Canada and Australia

  • Most breakfast/brunch/lunch restaurants serve:
    • Milkshakes
    • Smoothies
    • Avocado
    • Halloumi
    • Chai
    • Vegemite toast
    • Sourdough
    • Golden latte (turmeric latte)
    • Beet latte, mermaid latte
    • Chai latte
    • Turkish bread
    • Flower decorations
    • Dukkah
  • Australian Polysporin = Betadine
  • Australian Restoralax = Osmolax
  • Australian Chipotle = Guzman y Gomez (GYG)
  • Australian Bed, Bath, and Beyond = Bed, Bath, and Table
  • Australian Booster Juice = Boost
  • Australian Cobs Bread = Bakers Delight
  • Australian Chapters, Coles, or Indigo = Dymocks
  • Australian Burger King = Hungry Jacks
  • Australian Lays = Smiths
  • Australian Starbucks or Tim Hortons = Merlo’s
  • Australian Rogers or Shaw = Telstra or Optus
  • Australian LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) = BWS (Beer, Wine, Spirits)
  • Australian Goodlife Fitness = 12RND (twelve round) Fitness
  • Steering wheel is on the right side, and people drive on the left side of the road
  • Thursday is the “late night”
  • GPA is out of 6 or 7
  • Very steep hills in some suburbs
  • Must push a button to get on and off a train
  • Wheelchair logo is reversed (mirrored)
  • Eating competitions held at festivals
  • High schools and malls are “outdoors”
  • Toilets have little water in them
  • Grammar-related
    • Use of ’s’ instead of ‘z’ in words (organised, fertilised, analyse)
    • Use of “ae” in words such as faeces, aetiological, paediatrics
    • No oxford comma
    • “ch” or “j” sounds instead of “t” sound (eg. Tuesday, produce, due date)
  • Australian food
    • Lamingtons and Snowdrops
    • Nougat
    • Beef jerky
    • Meat pies
    • Rocky Road
    • Macadamia
    • Tim Tams
    • Arnott’s cookies
    • Eton Mess
    • Hot dogs with white bread instead of a hot dog bun
    • Chicken parmigiana
    • Melting moments
    • Hot cross buns
    • Turkish delight
    • Sticky date pudding
  • School zones and other areas where pedestrians walk are painted
  • Eggs are not refrigerated
  • Playgrounds are shaded with a “roof” because it’s too hot
  • Pools are outdoors
  • Aboriginal names like Indooroopilly, Cooloongatta, Tangalooma, Woolloongabba
  • Tiny outlets can be turned on and off
  • Hole punches have 2 holes instead of 3
  • Many private-practice health practitioners who work out of their homes
  • Clothing-related
    • Spaghetti straps
    • Anello bags
    • School uniforms = dresses with big puffy sleeves for girls, button-ups, hats, white socks, standardized shoes and backpack
    • Colourful peasant blouses
    • Dark denim skirts
    • Flip flops or sandals
    • Bras are okay in public
    • Tote bags
    • Lorna Jane athleticwear
  • No radiators or dehumidifiers
  • Many dinner places have “banquets” which are like set dinners for 2+ people
  • Male and female bathrooms are often separate (i.e. in separate parts of a hallway)
  • Bathroom sink areas and bathroom stall areas are separated by a door
  • Many roundabouts instead of intersections
  • Lots of water dragons and geckoes
  • Separate colleges for boys and girls
  • Gum trees instead of evergreens, firs, or pines
  • Less time to cross the street
  • Sushi is pre-made and sits on the counter, uncut, so people can grab it as an on-the-go snack and eat it like a wrap
  • Walking on the right, standing/waiting on the left of an escalator
  • Some streets are also appear in Ontario: Dovercourt, King, Queen, Ann, Adelaide, Albert, Elizabeth, Edward, Morningside region
  • Traffic lights are black
  • Giant spiders that spin massive webs from tree to tree

Different Words Between Canadian English and Australian English

Canadian English Australian English
Bandaid Plasters
Whole milk Full cream milk
2% milk 98% milk
1% milk 99% milk
Outlet Power point
Duotang Folder (they use folders or clipboards)
Call Ring
Post-secondary students Tertiary students
Hashbrown Potato rosti
Darn, that sucks! Bugger
Period Full stop
A-P-A APA, pronounced “apa”
Hot flashes Hot flushes
Cotton candy Fairy floss
Raisins Sultanas
Exact change Correct money
Store hours Trading hours
Melt, or open-faced sandwich, or grilled-cheese Toastie
Tasting menu Degustation
Great Beauty
Pepper Capsicum
Sorry Soz
Coconut yogurt Coyo
Movator Travelator
Sunglasses Shades, sunnies
Fanny pack Bum bag
Elevator Lift
Pharmacy Chemist
Appetizer Entrée
Entrée Main course
Personal tent Swag
Gas station Servo, petrol station
Pass (passing someone on the road) Overtake
Eraser Rubber, or eraser pronounced ‘e-ray-zer’
Sweater Jumper
Tap (debit or credit card) Pay pass, pay way
Pay with card/machine EFTPOS (Electronic funds transfer at point of sale)
Papaya Pawpay
Kindergarten Kindy
Cafeteria Tuck shop
Area, section, or zone Precinct
Attendance Roll
Prom Formal
Math Maths
Tour Contiki
Umbrella Brolly
I believe, I think I reckon
Disaster, mess Dog’s breakfast
Tank top Singlet
Afternoon Arvo
Candy Lolly
Mosquito Mozzy
Tasmania Tassy
Brisbane Brissy
Meat pie Traveller meat pie, long pie
Drunk driving, or driving under the influence Drink driving
Biscuit Bicky
People on wheelchairs Ambulants
Washroom Toilet
Dropbox Chute
University Uni
Teaching assistant (TA) Tutor
Fries Hot chips, chips
Chips Chips
Hollow position Dish position
Streetcar Tram
Baby stroller Pram
Rent or borrow Hire (yoga mat rental = yoga mat hire)
Flashlight Torchlight
Tattle on you, tell on you Dob on you
Tattletale Dibby-dobber
Duvet Doona
Garbage Rubbish
That’s okay, no problem You’re alright (after receiving apology)
Interested Keen
Friend Mate
Whole grain Whole meal
Plants and animals Flora and fauna
Office hours Consult hours
Flip flops Thongs
How are you doing? How are you going?
Syllabus ECP (electronic course profile)
Sidewalk Footpath
Midterm exams, midterms Midsems
Water fountain Bubbler
Container Punnet
Barbecue Barbie
Curb Kerb
Green onions Eschallots
Ice box, cooler Chilly bin, esky
Hoop Lyra
Silks Tissu
Thrift store Op shop
What would you like? What are you after?
Feta Fetta
Garbage can Bin
The week after classes finish, and before exams begin (study week) Swotvac “study without tutor vacation”
Cup of coffee Cuppa
Bathing suit Togs
Avocado Avo
Cinnamon buns Scrolls
Good (in response to “how are you doing?”) Well (in response to “how are you going?”)
Redneck Bogan

Lately: A Lotta Brunch!

Good morning! Today is Monday, May 7 – Labour Day in Australia. Since it’s a university holiday, I don’t have classes today. Normally I have two classes and a tutorial on Mondays, which would go from noon to around 5:00. So, I’m glad that the entire day is mine to relax, catch up, and sit at home. It also happens to be rainy today, so I’m glad that I don’t have to catch the bus or walk to school with an umbrella.

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Spamming my sister with comments about the book – I want her to read it so badly!

Over the weekend, I went to Dymocks, the Australian version of Coles/Chapters/Indigo/Barnes&Noble. It’s a lovely bookstore in the heart of the city, and I picked up a book called Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein. I was immediately captivated by the synopsis, which I’ll paste below. I thought I’d flip through the beginning of the book, and it was so fascinating that I sat on the ground and read it until a bookstore employee told me to go sit in the back. So I did… and devoured the whole book!

I don’t have enough good things to say about it. I’ve always been a fan of psychological thrillers that are more creepy than gory, diverse characters, lots of action, suspense, and plot twists. This one checked all the boxes, and I would highly recommend it. Truly a remarkable novel – I can’t believe it’s her debut – that I’m probably going to purchase next time I go to Dymocks. Since it’s an Australian book (author is currently in Melbourne, and note the spelling of words like ‘traumatised’ and ‘realises’ below), I doubt I’ll be able to find it in Canada later on.

Here’s the summary, which I pasted from Goodreads. Interesting in a haunting, thought-provoking way, right?!

We don’t pick and choose what to be afraid of. Our fears pick us.

Tash Carmody has been traumatised since childhood, when she witnessed her gruesome imaginary friend Sparrow lure young Mallory Fisher away from a carnival. At the time nobody believed Tash, and she has since come to accept that Sparrow wasn’t real. Now fifteen and mute, Mallory’s never spoken about the week she went missing.

As disturbing memories resurface, Tash starts to see Sparrow again. And she realises Mallory is the key to unlocking the truth about a dark secret connecting them. Does Sparrow exist after all? Or is Tash more dangerous to others than she thinks?

I need to recommend it one more time – if you’re a reluctant reader who loves action and intense scenes/dialogue, this book is the way to go. Check out the author’s website, too! It’s beautifully-designed.

Speaking of books, my sister is rereading the Red Queen series. She’s jotting down all the new-to-her vocab words to define and incorporate into her vocabulary. This will be super helpful for her English provincial exam, which is coming up. Go Seline!

Switching gears…

Brunch with my friend, Grace! Grace and I travelled to Byron Bay for a weekend getaway together, and we reunited at She Bangs Coffee for a lovely brunch. I had the Italian smoked salmon with poached eggs on a beet puree, with dill cream cheese. The eggs were poached perfectly, and I loved all the sharp, tangy flavours from the red onions to the fresh cucumber. The salmon, however, was a little too salty for my taste. I loved the chai latte that I enjoyed before the meal, which was heavily vanilla-scented.

Afterwards, I headed up to the Albion Peace Centre for Brisbane’s Urban Yogi Retreat! Yes, after a very long time of not doing yoga… I did yoga. The event, which I discovered on Facebook, was promoted as “the perfect time out – stress, anxiety and worry melt away and leave you feeling uplifted and rejuvenated and ready to face the world again in just a few hours”. The retreat was suitable for all levels of experience, from the first timer to the seasoned yoga practitioner.

The program was from 11:00 to 3:00, and during that time, we did the following activities.

  • Pranayama: yoga breathing
  • Yoga asana (posture) class
  • Plant-based cooking class, where we learned to make tahini rice balls
  • Plant-based lunch of tofu, cucumber, red peppers, Thai noodles, and soy dressing, plus two spring rolls
  • Introduction to meditation class, with chanting (yoga chanting meditation is called Kirtan)
  • A discussion about yoga philosophy and yoga wisdom
  • Yoga nidra (yogic “sleep”, for full-body relaxation)
  • Tea and the best peanut butter brownies I’ve ever eaten! I asked Yasmin for the recipe, and can’t wait to make them myself.

The food was simply amazing, and the people were so kind. One of my favourite parts of the day was sitting in the grass outside the Albion Peace Centre, barefoot, with the sunshine streaming through the leaves of the trees above us. The four hours went by quickly, and I left feeling emotionally cleansed and ready to get back to schoolwork.

Another day, I had a remarkable brunch by myself. I started with the large chai latte at Corner Store Cafe before diving into this polenta and jalapeño waffle topped with creamed corn, sour cream, poached eggs, and smoked salmon. I’d eyed this on the menu for ages, and it certainly lived up to expectations. Delicious!

Since I had aerial silks practice yesterday, I had an energizing breakfast at home. I had half of a quiche made with pumpkin, spinach, and parmesan, some yogurt topped with cinnamon, and the bottom of a pistachio-raspberry muffin.

After practice, I walked around the area and found a place called Little Loco Cafe. I’ve always wanted to try their – you guessed it – chai latte, so I stopped in for a sip. This was great!

Meanwhile in Canada, Mom was cooking dinner. She made mussels with spaghetti in a spicy basil tomato sauce, topped with parmesan cheese. Her cooking is always so inventive and tasty-looking.

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I asked Seline the same question, and she picked American, Japanese, Vietnamese, Greek and Italian.

That afternoon, I also did a survey for the University of Waterloo’s Food Services. This was one of the questions. How, how on Earth, am I supposed to choose only five of my favourite? Only five cuisines?! I ended up choosing French, Indian, Japanese, Lebanese, and Thai. French because I genuinely love the quality/freshness and richness of French cooking, Japanese for the incredible seafood, Lebanese because I’m a huge fan of garlic, onions, eggplant, and saffron, Indian for and Thai because

If you had to pick five, what would you select?

Last but not least, this is a restaurant that I really want to go to! My Brisbane list of cafes and restaurants continues to grow and grow. If you were to order from this menu by Merriweather Cafe, what would you select?

I would probably get the freshly-baked sourdough topped with avocado, poached eggs, beet hummus, dukkah, and add smoked salmon and halloumi to it. Or – how delicious does a free-range eggs benny with truffle hollandaise sound?! From the brunch menu, the quinoa fritter on a brioche burger looks awesome! I would also order a hot chocolate, a chai latte, or their banana, honey, cacao smoothie (and add peanut butter).

Last but not least, podcasts! I’ve downloaded the bolded ones and have listened to a few. It’s a little daunting to have so much information at my fingertips.

Pre-med Podcasts

  • The Premed Years *
  • PreMedLife
  • Accepted
  • The MCAT Podcast
  • MedStud Memoirs
  • Dear Premed *
  • Academic Medicine Podcast
  • Medical School HQ
  • Pritzker Podcast
  • Sawbones
  • Quackiest
  • Andrea Tooley
  • Kevin MD
  • Medical School Admissions Doctor
  • Get into Medical School
  • Skeptics Guide to the Universe
  • Skeptoid
  • Audio Osmosis
  • The Short Coat Podcast
  • OldPreMeds Podcast
  • Tailing Admissions and Med Student Life

That’s pretty much it, for today. Hope you all have a lovely rest of the week.

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

Hello, everyone!

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

But first, let’s look at some eats!

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

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

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

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

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

Then, I ate:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I got to eat in Taiwan:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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! 🙂

A Joke and Some Quotes

I started the week with a delicious tagine. Sort of… deconstructed because my pot wasn’t big enough.

Moroccan Chickpea Tagine

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • garlic powder
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into small florets
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 pack baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup couscous
  • drizzle honey

OPTIONAL VEGGIES

  • carrots
  • zucchini
  • yellow squash
  • green bell pepper
  • eggplant

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat oil in large saucepan. Add onion. Cook until soft.
  2. Add garlic powder, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne pepper, ginger, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and cook until fragrant. 1 minute is enough.
  3. Add tomatoes and juice.
  4. Add chickpeas, cauliflower, raisins, 1/2 cup water, and boil.
  5. Reduce heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender and liquid has thickened – 15 to 20 mins. Add some honey.
  6. Fold spinach. Cook until wilted – another 1 or 2 mins.
  7. Place couscous in a large bowl. Add 1 cup water. Cover, let sit for 5 mins. Fluff with fork and serve with stew.

Another day, I had a tasty dinner at Scaddabush with my coworkers. I enjoyed the Zucca ravioli: butternut squash ravioli with butter-fried sage, breadcrumbs, and a garlicky, creamy sauce with plenty of black pepper and parmesan. I also loved my appetizer, which was buttered garlic bread with fresh mozzarella, balsamic vinegar, crushed toasted hazelnuts, and honey. Amazing.

Since I’m tutoring at Centennial College, I have the opportunity to create a website. This is what we have so far. Pretty fun endeavour! The site is called Anatomy Academy, and it has all the worksheets that the students use to practice for anatomy and physiology.

I spent Sunday in downtown Toronto, where I savoured this incredible platter of smoked salmon, beet-cured gravlax, and purple cornmeal pancakes. The poached duck egg and chives were the cherry on top. The Scandinavian flavours in this delicious Karelia Kitchen brunch classic were unforgettable.

Carrot cake could not be missed. Absolute perfection. 👌

I walked down Bloor, which is becoming one of my favourite streets. Little Korea is always fun to explore, and I loved this stationery store where I picked up a few pens for Seline. My sister, Seline, is now working on a new blog called Canvas Atlas. It’s a fantastic portfolio; she’s a very talented with oil painting, photography, sketching, and other artistic endeavours. I wish I could create art the way she does.

Some quotes that I found on the net. I really like these ones.

Quotes

  • “Be decisive. Right or Wrong, make a decision. The road of life if paved with flat squirrels that couldn’t make a decision.”
  • “At the end of the game the King and the Pawn go into the same box.”
  • “Give a man a mask and he will show you his true self.”
  • “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”
  • “If good things lasted forever, how would we realize how precious they are?”
  • “Climb the mountain to see the world, not so that the world can see you.”
  • “You cannot choose what happens to you, but you have total control over how you react to it.”
  • “Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

One of my students brought me this slice of homemade banana bread. It was so tasty, and I loved every bite. Banana bread is truly one of my faves in any way, shape, or form.

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Another day, I went to Bake Code, a Taiwanese bakery in the York Mills area. There, I bought a taro knot (delicious) which I ate with Thai green curry, topped with crushed cashews.

The broccoli-cheddar quiche that I made was also very, very yummy with mushroom soup.

Shopping list – all the green words are things that I’m going to use to make some Christmas-inspired treats when the time comes around. It’s never to early to prep for Christmas, in my opinion. 😉

Mom Meals in BC looking good!

Dinner from Whole Foods, as well as a croissant that I attempted to bake. D’you think this looks a little… overbaked? Maybe a little 😉

(Don’t worry, I still ate it – the filling and inner layers, at least – and t’was delicious nonetheless)

This is the view of Toronto from 50 km away. Toronto is the beautiful, futuristic-looking city in the back. I got these photos from BlogTO (i.e. I don’t have the photography skills to do stuff like this).

Beautiful book from the library by the inspirational, talented, articulate Malala. I love reading about girls my age who use their voices to create positive ripples in the world. Go, Malala, go! ❤

I. Need. More. Books. And more gym time.

Another day, I visited the Toronto Pan Am Centre. Wish I brought my bathing suit; this gym is stunning but also pricey. Would have been super fun for a drop-in session or two.

Gorgeous skies on my walks home.

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My schedule is packed recently, which is what I like. Purple boxes and light blue boxes are bookings by students.

On a side note: Christmas decorations!

Things from the net 🙂

THIS. JOKE. GUYS.

A Chinese family moved into my town. There was a pair of twins: a boy called Ving and a girl called Ling. I became food friends with Ving. I learned that Ving HATED his name, and he wanted to change it to Lee, like Bruce Lee. I really wanted him to change his name to Lee. Ving decided to change his name, even though Ling disagreed. They went to town hall, and he filled out his name change sheet. He looked very conflicted.

Finally, Ving decided not to change his name. He asked the receptionist to cancel the request. I was disappointed. The receptionist said there would be a cancellation fee, and handed the fee receipt to Ling.

I said, “don’t stop, be Lee, Ving. Hold on to that fee, Ling.”


On a completely different, non-pun related note, check out this amazing stew-soup that I made. You will love it. Every bite was tasty!

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Curried Lentil Pumpkin Soup

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 tbsp oil
  • small yellow onion, diced
  • garlic powder, to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 7.5 oz pumpkin puree (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup dried red lentils
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 tbsp curry powder (mild or hot)
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • cayenne, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • pinch coriander
  • pinch cumin
  • honey, if desired
  • pumpkin seeds to garnish
  • lime to taste, or for garnish
  • coconut milk (little bit to thicken and add creaminess)

Mix-Ins to Add When Sautéing (add them with the onions)

  • chopped carrot
  • tiny cauliflower florets
  • baby spinach or kale
  • celery
  • tomato
  • couscous

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Sauté onion, garlic, and ginger in large pot with oil, until onions are soft and transparent. Add desired vegetables. I tossed in some chopped carrot and celery.
  2. Add pumpkin puree, red lentils, broth, and curry powder. Add other desired spices. Stir to combine.
  3. Place a lid on the pot and turn up the heat to medium high. Boil.
  4. Turn the heat down again. Simmer on low for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 20 mins, lentils should be soft and the soup thickened. Add coconut milk. Stir in any kale or spinach. I added baby spinach at the end to wilt.
  5. Season well. Serve with lime and pumpkin seeds on top.

That’s it for today, everyone. Have a beautiful rest of the week ❤

Goodbye, Waterloo

On Wednesday (3 days ago), I flew out of Toronto and came back home to BC.

My last few meals in Ontario were absolutely delicious.

Good times were spent with my friends (this is Kianna, my friend from aerial silks) – and we had a great lunch at Solé Seafood Bar.

Complimentary bread, tomato and blue cheese noodles, spinach and feta flatbread – both of which I shared with my friend Lara. Kianna had the shrimp scampi.

For dessert, we had a dark chocolate tart with creme fraiche and berry coulis.

One day, I cooked Gordon Ramsay scrambled eggs, which turned out irresistibly creamy. They did take a little extra effort to make, and I prefer my spinach + cheddar eggs.

Meal plans were created:

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I liked my sweet potato fries, salmon, with broccoli couscous. The garlic aioli was my favourite part.

Pancakes are always a dreamy breakfast. Chopped prunes on top!

Almond Flour Pancakes

Serves 6 pancakes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp melted butter or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Whisk dry ingredients together.
  2. Beat together liquid ingredients. Whisk wet into dry.
  3. Allow batter to rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Heat up pan to medium-high. Cook pancakes until tops are bubbly, edges are dry, and bottoms golden brown. Flip over and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  5. Serve hot with butter.

Have a lovely rest of the day, friends!