More Incredible Brunch Meals + Desserts

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Incredible sunset. This looks like a painting! I saw this sunset as I was heading home from class.

Good afternoon! I really haven’t blogged in a while; it’s because I have had a couple final exams, a final assignment, and just one more final exam before I am done. Today is June 17, and I am going back to Canada on the 26th. I can’t believe I only have NINE days left in Australia – we’re into the single digits now. Wow.

Anyways, hope you are all having a lovely day so far. Here are some snapshots of the wonderful week I’ve had, starting with a delicious almond croissant from Crust & Co., and a homemade chai latte. It was a great breakfast, and after a few classes, I had lunch with my friends from a social work class. I had the pumpkin soup, which came with a thick slab of bread (unpictured), and it really satisfied all my winter soup cravings.

I spend more time looking at lists of cafes, menus, and Zomato reviews than I do studying, and one cafe really stood out to me as a must-visit place. I knew I wanted to go to Nodo for a long time, but it wasn’t until I found out that their sweet potato waffle would soon leave the menu that I instantly booked it over there!

Here is that waffle that I so badly wanted to try. It was spectacular! The waffle itself was a sweet potato waffle, and it was topped with all kinds of mushrooms, crispy sage, brown butter, a zingy hollandaise, two poached eggs, and an excellent crumble (which I later found out was a toasted pecan crumble).

All of my favourite flavours – sweet potato, eggs, BROWN BUTTER, pecans, SAGE! – all in one excellent, excellent dish. I wish this could be on the menu forever, but I am looking forward to seeing what they will have on the winter menu. How awesome does this look?

For dessert, I couldn’t decide between the chocolate caramel donut and the pumpkin cheesecake, so of course I ordered both. I took the donut to-go, since the server told me it’d keep better, and I ate the pumpkin cheesecake on the spot. It was everything I look for in a cheesecake: creamy (not stiff, ew, I hate stiff or crumbly cheesecakes), dense, flavourful, spiced beautifully with cinnamon and nutmeg, with an excellent white chocolate frosting. I’m a crust connoisseur (who apparently can’t spell connoisseur without Googling it) and this one was a solid 10/10. And, I think it was gluten-free!

I will be really sad to say goodbye to all of my friends, classmates, and coaches here. The yoga studio that I work at is now looking for someone to take over my cleaning job!

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Next cafe on the bucket list is called Goodness Gracious. I am really excited to try these:

  • turmeric latte
  • treat from dessert cabinet
  • PB choc banana smoothie/blueberry vanilla coconut smoothie/strawberry cream cheese vanilla shortcake smoothie
  • tofu moussaka with scrambled turmeric tofu, eggplant, lentils, pumpkin hummus, cashew cream, sumac OR veggie toast with kale, broccolini, heirloom tomato, artichoke, kalenaise, sunflower seeds, poached eggs, charcoal sourdough
  • Side dishes: (can add avocado, salmon, tofu scramble, pulled ham, sweet potato quinoa hash)

I also found out about this new place called Hello Mister Frankie, which is famous for puffles. They are puffy waffles, like Taiwanese/Hong Kong style bubble waffles. I haven’t had the opportunity to go yet, but when I do, it’s going to be the honey and truffle puffle with vanilla and fig soft serve… and a lot of toppings. What would you order?

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I need to clear out some time to go to this place, called Bitter Suite, for their hot chocolate. They make peanut butter hot chocolate, and it is apparently out of this world.

One afternoon when I had planned to study, I went to the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art. A fine way to procrastinate. All of the artwork was unique, thought-provoking, and admirable. When I look at modern/contemporary artwork, I almost instantly need to read the description because I get a little bit confused, and need an explanation. These artists are so skilled, and it really opened my eyes to the world of contemporary art.

Oooh this was amazing! I had avocado toast from Anouk, which was topped with sesame seeds (this made a massive flavour difference), rocket and quinoa with red onions, whipped feta, and romesco sauce. Next time, I’ll add a fried egg to this. The whipped feta had great flavour, and the texture was so cool. This was a great, simple, light, fresh dish that I’d order again in a heartbeat.

For dessert – freshly-baked almond pear loaf with vanilla ice cream. Served warm, this dessert was near perfection. I love the richness that almond meal brings to any dessert.

As you can see, I’ve been having a lot of brunch and not a lot of… study time. 😉

This awesome plate was from PawPaw Cafe: potato hash cakes, fried halloumi, smoked salmon, beetroot relish, turmeric hummus, poached eggs, mashed avocado, lime, and plenty of dukkah. Normally, this isn’t a dish I would order because I don’t like potatoes that much, but this was so flavourful and really delicious. They gave me SO much smoked salmon, and all of the flavours meshed together beautifully. I particularly loved the light sweetness of the beetroot relish with the zing of the turmeric hummus.

For dessert, I had my eye on the caramelized banana with sticky date pudding and vanilla ice cream, but sadly, they only make that at dinner time. Instead, I had the coconut chocolate ice cream with a Ferrero Rocher raw bar and crushed hazelnuts and a raw chocolate sauce. This was raw and vegan! I would have never guessed, and actually enjoyed the coconut flavour.

Riverside walks. I’m really going to miss this, when I go back to Canada.

Pearl Cafe is one of my Brisbane favourites. I savoured their avocado toast one morning, which was topped with whipped goat cheese, sliced avocado, blobs of pureed beet, sprouts, and a poached egg on sourdough. I wish the bread was toasted, though!

Mmmmm – ricotta cake with so many chocolate chips and vanilla ice cream. The buttery, crumbly, light texture of this cake, paired with the richness of the chocolate, was absolutely divine. This is probably what angels eat in heaven.

This great lunch was from Abode Cafe. It’s called the Dulcie, and consists of two thick slices of sourdough bread, ham, Gruyere cheese, and mango chutney. It’s been a while since I’ve had a grilled cheese, and it was calling my name! I loved every bite of this buttery, cheese-filled delight.

For dessert, I had their freshly-baked chocolate brownie, vanilla ice cream, and a beautiful piece of art – their hot chocolate. All served with a side of studying, but let’s be honest, I didn’t really study. How can you focus on disease pathways and clinical spectrums when there is fresh hot chocolate, a warm brownie, and ice cream in front of you?

It totally looks like I’ve been eating at cafes every day, and that’s because… I have. Kind of. I still cook a lot at home, like this plate which had an omelet with truffled gouda (my new favourite cheese), Italian herb smoked salmon, and a mix of grain salads.

Lovely little chai from Morning After Cafe…

preceded this broccoli breakfast bowl, which included farro, red onions, two awesome poached eggs, pita bread, green beans, and hummus.

I couldn’t leave without trying their legendary gluten-free cookie sandwich. The inside was peanut butter buttercream, and it was served with vanilla ice cream. The sweetness of the ice cream, and slight saltiness of the nut butter, paired beautifully with the chewy, crispy, crackly chocolate cookie. I want this every day.

Finally, a quote I found online. Any thoughts?

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One more thing! I had this phenomenal brunch on Friday – potato hash cakes, smoked salmon, yogurt lemon-herb sauce, two poached eggs. I ate this at Baker’s Arms Cafe, after a lovely pot of my favourite chai in Brisbane.

Dessert at Pearl Cafe (just across the street from Baker’s Arms) again – almond frangipane tart with caramelized rhubarb and vanilla ice cream. You can never get enough vanilla ice cream.

The river that I’m gonna miss a lot.

And a little bucket list for places to go before I peace out of Brisbane!

Have a lovely rest of the weekend!

BUCKET LIST

  • CITY
    • Bonsai Botanika mini quiche or sourdough with poached eggs, smoked salmon, sour cream, apple, ricotta, honey mustard, fresh herbs, hot chocolate
    • The Cheese Pleaser 4 cheese toastie
    • Dello Mano chili hot chocolate (7-5 M-Th, 7-7:30 Fri, 9-5 weekends)
  • WEST END
    • Gunshop Cafe gnocchi
  • PADDINGTON
    • Anouk homemade chai, corn beignets, ice cream with brownie
  • NEW FARM/VALLEY/TENERIFE
    • Bitter Suite peanut butter hot chocolate (if unavailable, get wet honey chai tea plunger), poached eggs on toast and add spinach, smoked salmon, crushed avocado + La Macelleria gelato
    • Hello Mister Frankie Puffle: honey + truffle puffle, vanilla and fig soft serve, red bean, peanut and sesame crunch, sachima, tim tam (12.7 total) —> closed Sunday
    • Ginger and Rose (open soon)
  • OTHER
    • The Menagerie hot chocolate + Scout Cafe brekkie bagel with fried egg, smoked salmon/halloumi/avocado, cheddar, rocket, housemate relish, fresh tomato, aioli + Sisco BCL to get muffins or hot chocolate
    • chai from Lewin Street Store
    • Lady Marmalade chai tea infused with milk OR hot chocolate on coconut milk, LM Gringo Waffle (chilli cheese cornbread waffle topped with savoury mince, minced chorizo, black beans, fontina, sour cream, fried egg)
    • chai from Wray Organic + Flour and Chocolate (vanilla slice)
    • RESTAURANT 1 hour + 4 min walk or 26 min train: Goodness Gracious (near Sherwood Arboretum and Corinda library): turmeric latte, treat from dessert cabinet, PB choc banana smoothie/blueberry vanilla coconut smoothie/strawberry cream cheese vanilla shortcake smoothie, tofu moussaka with scrambled turmeric tofu, eggplant, lentils, pumpkin hummus, cashew cream, sumac OR veggie toast with kale, broccolini, heirloom tomato, artichoke, kalenaise, sunflower seeds, poached eggs, charcoal sourdough (can add avocado, salmon, tofu scramble, pulled ham, sweet potato quinoa hash)
  • GABBA
    • RESTAURANT PawPaw Cafe roti canai dinner, sticky date pudding with salted caramel ice cream and grilled banana

Three Unbelievable Brunch Dishes 👌

Good afternoon! Hope your weekend has been wonderful so far. My week has been absolutely amazing, much better than I could’ve imagined – and I’ll show you why!

First, one of my favourite authors, Victoria Aveyard, came to Canada for her book tour! She visited Chapters Metrotown in Burnaby. Of course, I’m in Australia until the end of June, but my sister Seline had the opportunity to meet the lovely Victoria, get her books signed, and listen to Victoria’s Q&A. Victoria Aveyard is the author of the Red Queen quartet, and her newest book – series finale! – War Storm was released recently.

Also: another massive bowl of chai from Three Monkeys Cafe. I’m addicted.

In case you haven’t noticed, I am on a MISSION to try as many chai lattes as I can. This morning, I hit up Northey Street Farmers Market, an organic market, which is known for a cozy shack called Chai Cafe. There, I had a very enjoyable mug of chai, one of the spicier ones in Brisbane. The owner told me that she adds fresh vanilla beans, turmeric, and a plethora of other spices, to create a recipe she learned in India. This chai was one of the top two I’ve had so far… and by that I mean it’s the second-best. 🙂

The Northey Street Markets are lovely! Quite a bit busier than the other markets, perhaps due to its size, with lots of friendly dogs and children. It’s a very family-friendly place and I wish I came with the intention of grabbing a sandwich and doing some people-watching.

After my walk at the Northey Street Markets, I went to the Green Edge Vegan Market and Grocery Store. I’m on the lookout for some enchilada sauce (without too many additives or preservatives), and after visiting two or three different specialty grocery stores – I still haven’t found any.

From there, I tried to take the 450 to go home, caught the 150 bus instead, and ended up in South Bank! It was a wonderful accident, because I’ve had Pourboy Espresso on my bucket list for the longest time. It was destiny – I had to eat here!

Mainly, Pourboy Espresso has been on my must-visit list because of their famous Belgian hot chocolate, made with Callebaut dark Belgian chocolate and organic milk. I love how it was served in this little kettle with extra chocolate chips. It was flavourful and sweet, but the chocolate and milk were not mixed together very well. The first 1.5 cups were milky, but near the bottom of the kettle, the chocolate was much more concentrated and un-melted.

For my brunch dish, I ordered the cheesy jalapeño waffles, which were topped with mashed avocado, grilled cherry tomatoes, and two poached eggs. I was worried the waffles would be too spicy, since the waitress said they were quite spicy, but it turned out to be okay. I loved the generous scoop of avocado, since I haven’t had avo for a while, and the eggs were poached very nicely. The entire dish was fresh and flavourful, and it was sprinkled with some coarse salt that boosted the taste of everything. Overall, a solid brunch dish that I would recommend!

The table to my right savoured a slice of lemon sour cream pound cake with lemon curd, and it looked delicious. On top of that, my server talked about how much she loved this dessert. For those of you who have read my blog for a while now – you know that I’ve never been a fan of citrus desserts. In fact, I hate lemon. I think orange ruins chocolate. Grapefruit desserts should be called breakfast. I’m all about the nutty desserts. The chocolatey desserts. The richer, the more decadent, the creamier – the better. So, ordering this fresh and fruity LEMON dessert was out of character!

But it was good. Really good. Paired with that lemon curd, this slightly-warm, crumbly, buttery cake with blasts of flavour from the toasted walnuts, this was a fantastic way to end my meal.

“We noticed the lady to our right, munching on this cake and gushing about it,” the man beside me had mentioned, “so we had to order it, too. It’s just a ricochet of lemon pound cake.”

A couple days ago, I spent my morning at Corner Store Cafe. I’ve been to Corner Store Cafe a couple times before. Literally, a couple. The first time, I had a lamb flatbread and a smoothie. The second time, I enjoyed the polenta waffles with smoked salmon and a mug of chai. This time, the chai was calling my name again.

For my main dish, I knew I wanted the mushroom quesadillas. These quesadillas were filled with gorgonzola and stracciatella (Italian buffalo milk) cheese, sauteed mushrooms, and spinach. It was set on a bed of pumpkin puree, and topped with two fried eggs and pebre salsa. According to Wikipedia, pebre salsa is a Chilean condiment made of coriander, chopped onion, olive oil, garlic and ground or pureed spicy aji peppers. The dish was a blast of flavours and textures, incredibly filling, and I was in love with the cheesy centres and doughy tortilla.

For dessert, I wanted to try their daily special – a middle eastern fruit bread pudding topped with sliced fruit, and two scoops of orange marmalade ice cream. This was much bigger than I’d expected, and the giant slabs (yes, there were three slices) of bread were layered with figs, dates, raisins, and bananas.

Every bite was fruity and paired well with the zing of the ice cream. I liked how some parts of the fruit bread were crispy and caramelized, while the middles were creamy and pudding-like.

You can probably imagine, that after a mug of milk tea, a veggie-filled quesadilla with two eggs, and then a massive loaf of bread pudding with two scoops of ice cream – that I was very full. 🙂

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Photos of South Bank, Brisbane! Gotta do the touristy stuff here, too.

  • L: a dessert restaurant in South Bank that I want to try!
  • R: photo from the bathroom of Banneton Bakery that took me right back to my summer in Paris, France. I remember all of these stops, and miss Paris so much. Thinking about my time there always makes me happy – and simultaneously leaves me in disbelief. I can’t believe that the 16 year-old me took my younger sister to live in Paris for a month.

Another amazing brunch happened at Pearl Cafe. I’ve wanted to visit Pearl Cafe for ages, and it’s been at the top of my food bucket list for months. For some reason, I thought it would be far away, but it was only a 30-minute bus ride from home.

Here, I didn’t think twice before ordering the crepe, which was filled with fried egg and spinach. It was such an easy choice because the server told me that the crepe was her favourite item on the menu, and she eats it every single day after her shift. Can’t argue with that! The topping is saffron and radish, with fresh prawns and a zingy marinade. Honestly, a spectacular dish, and it was exceptionally tasty with freshly-cracked black pepper and a squeeze of lemon. I can see why Pearl Cafe is so popular!

For dessert… you guys. You guys.

“Tea cake”, to me, sounds boring. I just think of some plain old yeast bread, maybe studded with a couple raisins. Pearl Cafe’s tea cake, however, is on another level. This massive slice was buttery, had incredible crumb, and was loaded with caramelized rhubarb. Yes, caramelized rhubarb! Even better, there was a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. I devoured every crumb, as usual, and would eat this a million times. I’m already planning my next trip back to Pearl Cafe.

Back to the chai! I stole this paragraph from a popular Brisbane food and travel website called The Urban List:

There’s a lot of chat being thrown around by a bunch of heathens trying to tell me that flavoured sugar powder is a worthy substitute. Where’s the LOVE? Where’s the AUTHENTICITY? Nothing compares to the spicy aroma of a freshly brewed pot of proper chai; you feel that shit in your soul, and Brisbane’s got it on lock.

Couldn’t’ve (had to google how to spell that!) said it better.

Anyways, the award for the #1 chai I’ve had in Brisbane so far goes to… the Baker’s Arms! Their chai is a homemade blend, steeped in organic milk and honey. It was rich, had excellent tea flavour, and had subtle sweetness from the honey. I enjoyed this tea with a side of sunshine, before grabbing a tasty meal next door. My only complaint about this chai is that there wasn’t enough. I can’t wait to go back for this!

No, you aren’t having deja-vu; I posted about this incredible peanut butter hot chocolate on my last blog post. It was so good that I had to go back for another mug. Look at those chocolate shavings! That foamy milk! Those granules of sea salt!

Another place I’m dying to visit, and a quote that hit me yesterday. I haven’t been performing very well on a couple recent exams and essays, and surprisingly, don’t feel too discouraged. It’s a weird feeling because I feel like I should be angry or upset about the grades, but I’m not. Interestingly, I’m not in denial about it either… I’ve just accepted it and feel okay with it. I know I didn’t study as much as I normally do, and my grades reflected that, but I’m trying my best. I don’t know – it’s so strange!

Plus, most of my time has been going to – you guessed it – aerials. 😉 I revamped the page, by the way, so y’all should go check it out.

Couple other things – my friends and I are having lunch at Wordsmiths, a cafe on campus, tomorrow. I’ve starred all the items that I think would be delicious, but I haven’t decided which one I’m going to order. I’m leaning towards the soup of the day, depending what it is, but the baked ricotta (it has pumpkin in it!) and vegetable lasagna also sound delicious. Wish I could find photos for all of them, though.

And… I’m back to studying!

By that, I mean I am going to start now, though I should’ve started days ago.

Bye!

Bites of Life and Things I’ve Been Loving!

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Good morning!

I really wish I had something interesting and thought-provoking to share with you this lovely Monday morning, but I really don’t.

It’s almost winter here in Australia, and the weather is getting noticeably cooler. Fortunately, I can still wear shorts and a t-shirt since we are around the mid-twenties for most of the day. This is my favourite kind of weather – warm and sunny, but not overwhelmingly hot. It’s such a comfortable temperature that I wish it could stay like this year-round.

On Mother’s Day, I had a lovely brunch with my landlords (husband and wife) and her daughter (my housemate). We savoured brunch at a cafe called Café 63 in New Farm. Their menu was very extensive, they had quick service, and it was great to sit out in the patio. I ordered the mashed avocado, multigrain toast, two poached eggs, and smoked salmon. I haven’t had avocado toast in quite a while, so this was incredible. The black pepper and lime juice took the flavours to the next level.

I’ve been neglecting my blog a little bit with only two posts in the last three weeks. It’s because my schoolwork is getting busier. Final exams begin at the start of June, so many of my exams are less than a month away. When I have a lot to do, I genuinely enjoy making to-do lists – the longer the better! – and feel so much satisfaction checking off the tasks.

I haven’t been taking many pictures of my food, mostly because I feel like I eat the same thing every day. It’s always a combination of store-bought salad from Botanica Real Food (check out their Instagram, seriously), alongside some homemade quiche or omelet, and sometimes fried halloumi or bread from the farmer’s market.

Broke my record for steps! In contrast to… sitting on my butt for hours at a time to study.

I love Brisbane! At night it becomes such a colourful, vibrant place when all the bridges light up and illuminate the water. I learned yesterday that swimming and rowing in the Brisbane River is highly advised against, because there are bull sharks in here!

After my term in Australia, then July and August, I will be moving back to Waterloo, this time with my sister! Seline was accepted into the University of Waterloo, so we are very excited about being able to live together. I’ve been choosing my courses, and we have been working together to find a nice and affordable place at a convenient location in Waterloo.

Now, for something completely unrelated to school and housing:

Here’s a list of my favourite side dish salad combinations, inspired by Botanica!

  • potato, peas, dill ⭐FAV
  • brown rice, squash
  • pumpkin with seeds and cumin hummus dressing
  • Israeli couscous with spinach, red onion, sweet potato, pesto dressing ⭐FAV
  • roasted cauliflower with dates and parsley ⭐FAV
  • shredded beet with orange and goat cheese, mint
  • purple cabbage with mayo
  • chickpea, spinach, carrot with creamy curry dressing
  • broccoli slaw with dried cranberries
  • carrot and quinoa
  • currant, quinoa, green/brown lentil, red onion, parsley, sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds, cabbage
  • roasted potato with capers, dill

My sister asked me for a list of foods rich in B12. Here you go, S!

Food sources of vitamin B12

Meat-based Vitamin B12-Rich Foods

  • fish
  • milk
  • red meat
  • eggs
  • fish (trout, salmon)
  • crab
  • cheese
  • chicken
  • oysters and clams
  • yogurt

Vegan Vitamin B12-Rich Foods

  • almonds
  • soy milk
  • carrots
  • papayas
  • squash
  • sweet potato
  • peppers
  • mangoes
  • avocado
  • melon
  • peaches
  • apricots

Now, for a little note on things that I’ve been loving recently:

  1. Cirque Physio, a website by physiotherapist and circus artist Dr. Jen Crane. She provides all kinds of excellent tips and tricks (that I get on FB!) about recovery, injury prevention, and healthy habits – all targeting aerialists and acrobats.
  2. Along those lines, I downloaded The Artist Athlete Podcast by Shannon McKenna. I’ve never been a big fan of podcasts, but her podcast has featured interviews and conversations with high-level performers, occupational therapists, riggers, and a variety of artists. Her voice is so easy to listen to, and she brings up some excellent points. One of my favourite episodes was one from May 7, where she spoke with Anton Belyakov, a professional hand balancer born into a circus family.

That’s pretty much all I have for today, but I’m going to some great cafes today and tomorrow, and an awesome show that I’m very excited about. Have a great day!

The Longest Essay I’ve Ever Written

Good morning! I hope you had a fantastic weekend and feel rejuvenated for the week ahead.

I had a wonderful weekend, full of aerials, where I started working on something new (to me) – a splits balance. The studio that I train at on the weekend, Vulcana, is beautiful and home to some very kind souls.

Last night, my housemate Jessica very generously donated some backpacks to me! I adore backpacks of all shapes and colours and sizes, and was so thrilled to get some new ones. My old grey one is pretty boring, and I’ve used it for over two years, so I’m excited to start using these new-to-me treasures.

Also in my life recently:

  • using my Staedler pens to write notes all the time – they make my notes so colourful and enticing. I almost want to study when these pens are hanging out on my desk.
  • thinking about starting up running! I love walking, but it isn’t a ‘challenge’ any more. Would be fun to do a bit of running before the weather gets too cool.
  • map of Brisbane and all the suburbs! My favourite suburbs are Fortitude Valley and New Farm, which is where my aerials training studios are – and home to my favourite farmers markets!
  • giant mosquito. Whoa.
  • it’s been a while since I’ve had a good old smoothie! This one was made with banana, chocolate, almond milk, and cinnamon. It was delicious on a hot day, before I ordered a lovely brunch dish of cabbage pancake topped with goat cheese, poached egg, roasted broccoli, and parmesan (unpictured).

This is the Brisbane City botanical garden. It was my first time visiting this particular botanical garden – I’ve been to two others in the area. Although this didn’t have as much plantlife as the other two, I enjoyed the lush green grass and simple ponds.

On a different note, my shoes are finally comfortable! I had some issues with my toe, and after wearing comfortable (read: ugly) shoes for a few months, giving my toe time to heal, I can finally wear my slightly-less-comfortable (but much cuter) shoes. I love this pair and glad that I’m able to walk around in them, completely pain-free!

I saw this online and it really got me thinking. What do I want to do in the future – and is it something I love? Will it be something I’m good at? Is it something the world needs? I’m going to keep thinking about this, and perhaps one day, pen in some of my career choices and see which ones fall into the centre.

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This was the longest essay I’ve written in my life! It is a research essay about kidney disease in Queensland, and potential health-enhancing behaviours that may improve the mortality/morbidity of chronic kidney disease. It took me a little over a month to complete, so I was very satisfied to finally submit it last week.

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Essays were also involved in my biology class. We worked in groups of six, and I thought we did a fantastic job together. I was super pleased with how our report turned out, and how we collaborated.

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Finally, a lovely salad with some vegetable tarts. One tart is broccoli-parmesan, the other mushroom and pesto. I loved both, especially with this glorious colourful salad.

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Last but not least, I finished my box of chai – which means I had 25 chai tea bags in less than a month. Definitely obsessed with that stuff. It’s just perfect with milk and honey.

Of course, I had to make a list of chai to try (I’m sure there’s some pun I can make with this). I hope I can find some of these here in Brisbane!

Must-Try Chai

  • Samovar Masala Chai Black
  • Prana Chai Masala Blend
  • Dona Chai Chai Tea Concentrate
  • Chai Wallahs of Maine Spiced Chai with Assam Black Tea
  • Firepot Nomadic Teas Masala Chai Loose Leaf
  • Bollywood Theater Masala Chai
  • Tipu’s Original Slow Brew Indian Chai
  • Rainbow Chai Spice Mix
  • Pukka Vanilla Chai
  • Madura Seven Spice Chai
  • Nerada Organics Chai
  • Chai Walli chai
  • Gopi Chai
  • Teapigs Chai
  • Twinings Chai Ultra Spice
  • Tazo Chai
  • Organic India Chai Masala

That’s it for today – wishing you a lovely rest of the week.

A Food-Filled Weekend Getaway

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

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

 

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

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

But more importantly:

my friend and I spent the weekend at Byron Bay!

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

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

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

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

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

After that, we spent Friday afternoon at Main Beach.

That night, there were two minor disappointments:

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Is it breakfast? Is it lunch? Mysteries.

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

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

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

I. Love. Sunsets.

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

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

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

Grace and I shared the following.

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

Finally, dessert:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

👆 I could write a dissertation on this.

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

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

I wish you a delicious rest of the week!

I Walked More Than 20,000 Steps a Day for a Week

Good morning!

I got this idea from Cassie over at Super Fit Babe, who, man, inspires me so much. I was pretty curious about how many steps I could take, and ended up purchasing my own Fitbit. I love it, and find it more reliable and versatile than my cellphone’s health app.

So let’s take a look at my progressively-lazier notes!

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DAY 1 – WEDNESDAY

  • great weather, quite humid, and very sunny
  • walked to the farmer’s market in the city, shopped at the market, then walked home
  • came home to a very distinct tan line!
  • walked home from school in the evening
  • I took two showers today
  • felt limited flexibility in my hip flexors and adductors in yoga today
  • left ankle, the one I sprained as a kid, felt a little ‘off’ (not discomfort or pain, just different – maybe tightness?)

DAY 2 – THURSDAY

  • rained in the morning, didn’t feel like walking in the morning so I did a slow yoga class instead
  • during the yin yoga class, I noticed that I was less flexible in the hips like yesterday
  • rained sporadically in the afternoon, cutting my walk a little shorter
  • walked at a slower pace than normal
  • bottoms of feet were a little sore at the end of the afternoon
  • it was difficult for me to push to 20,000 steps today
  • I wanted to eat all the carbs on Earth today, and did end up having an extra pumpkin and spinach scone, plus a brownie for dessert (amazing)
  • not yet 20,000 at night, so I paced around the house until I reached 20,000 then went to bed

DAY 3 – FRIDAY

  • cleaning in the morning took up a lot of steps
  • felt hungry in the afternoon
  • ate lots of carbs at lunch again, and loved every bite
  • easy to hit 20,000 steps, though the bottoms of my feet were a little sore
  • needed to take sitting breaks during my afternoon outing

DAY 4 – SATURDAY

  • felt energetic today
  • good weather
  • got to roll out my feet with a spiky massage ball at the end of the day, which felt very nice
  • this is the most I’ve walked in a day so far in the challenge
  • didn’t actually feel HUNGRY, but once I started eating, I couldn’t stop eating
  • fell asleep every quickly at night (writing this on Sunday morning)
  • forgot sunscreen in the morning

DAY 5 – SUNDAY

  • woke up at 6:45, feeling pretty energetic
  • great weather just a little windy
  • felt like I had a lot of energy throughout the day and wanted to walk
  • increased pace in the evening since the temperature was just right

DAY 6 – MONDAY

  • ton of energy today
  • very, incredibly hot
  • when I get tired and feet get sore, I walk even faster so that I can get home sooner and relax

DAY 7 – TUESDAY

  • so tired
  • groggy
  • not really that much to say

I like how my notes eventually got shorter and shorter out of laziness.

PROS

  1. I slept really well. Normally, I fall asleep after a few minutes of lying in bed, but this time, I felt like I fell asleep even FASTER. Even if I wasn’t sleepy, my body was overall a good level of ‘tired’, and I needed that sleep. On top of that, I ended up waking up (naturally), later than usual. While I typically roll out of bed around 6:45 or 7:00, I found myself lying in bed until 7:30 or 7:45 most mornings.
  2. Walking is almost meditative. I don’t spend much time (AKA I don’t spend any time) meditating, or doing something simple like visualizing/listening to music. However, when I walked, I got to play some of my favourite tunes and focus on the beat and the lyrics. I think this was quite beneficial for my mental health, as I came back to studying feeling a greater sense of concentration.
  3. I felt refreshed. I loved the feeling of wind in my face, and being able to see the river. Since Brisbane has beautiful pedestrian walkways right next to the Brisbane river, I felt so lucky to get some great scenery while walking.
  4. I got a tan! A pretty bad tan, to be fair, complete with some strange tank-top tan lines, but I’ve always wanted to be a little golden.
  5. Vitamin D from all the sunshine!
  6. Made me appreciate music.
  7. A sense of pride and accomplishment.

CONS

  1. It’s not as easy as it looks!
  2. It is quite time-consuming. I felt as if I didn’t have sufficient time to do other tasks, like
  3. Easy, free, transportation.
  4. Less time and desire to do resistance exercises.
  5. Decreased flexibility in my hips.

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Overall, I enjoyed the walking and learned a bit about my mind and body. Now that classes have resumed, however, I don’t see myself continuously reaching 20,000 steps a day anymore. It was a great experiment to dabble in, and I feel more aware, more conscious, of the mild cardiorespiratory activity that I should take part in, on a regular basis. 

Walk on, everyone!