I Met R.L. Stine!

Hey! Hope everyone’s week has been wonderful so far.

My November simply flew by. I feel like Halloween wasn’t that long ago, and bam, here we are with snow sprinkling down our blog headers.

Anyways, on Wednesday I went to downtown Toronto to see R.L. Stine, my favourite author from childhood (who, to this day, has a big piece of my heart). Anyone else read Goosebumps, Fear Street, or Mostly Ghostly growing up?

That day, I also savoured an incredible meal at Light Cafe, where I devoured a truffle mushroom croissant, a salad with sesame dressing, lobster bisque, and this spectacular dessert of four heart-shaped Earl Grey waffles, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a scoop of chocolate ice cream, and plenty of whipped cream. Better than the stuff of my dreams.

Anyways, R.L. Stine, who goes by Bob Stine, delivered a hilarious, interactive, simple, anecdote-studded speech that engaged the entire audience. Afterwards, I was lucky to say some words to him before security whisked the crowd away. He even asked what my name was! :’) This guy’s a hero.

He also liked my perfectly-crafted tweet that used up every character. Part of the fun of Twitter, in my strange and pointless opinion, is that you get to spend time figuring out how to word things to max out the character count. 🤓

A completely different note – Moroccan tagine is so good. I’ve made it four times in the past two-ish months. I just love it. Something about the savoury tomato and cumin sauce, creamy sweet potatoes, and hearty chickpeas with flavourful couscous gets me every time.

Photos (the professionally-taken ones, not my amateur iPhone shots) from the MedX event from a couple weekends ago came out! Can you spot me?

I’m in love with tomato scrambled eggs. This was one of my earliest recipes on the blog (also back when I had a great camera 😭), since it’s so simple, classic, and ridiculously tasty. This time, I enjoyed couscous underneath.

Lots of side projects with the tutoring job – this is a study guide that I am creating. Almost done!

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Hope everyone has a spectacular rest of the day, and an excellent kickoff into the last month of 2017.

Charcoal Waffles ♡_♡

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dessert was just as delicious.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brunch at Earls

My family {Grandpa and Grandma, Mimi and Charles, Dad, Mom and I} had a wonderful brunch in Burnaby a couple weekends ago. We decided to eat at Earls. 🙂 Everyone was very satisfied with their meal – I’ll show you! Grandpa started with the soup and salad combo, which came with a big slab of French bread. He loves Caesar salad! Dad had the burger with fries, as usual.

L: {Earls signature housemade caesar dressing and brioche croutons on a bed of crisp romaine lettuce sprinkled with grand padano parmesan}

R: {Bacon Cheddar Burger: Cured bacon, vine-ripened tomatoes, onion, pickles, mayonnaise and mustard, on a freshly baked brioche bun with truffle fries}

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For an appetizer, we ordered a plate of calamari. Seline loved this and claims it’s one of the best calamari she’s had.

{Lightly breaded calamari, spanish black olives, oven dried tomatoes, refreshing cucumber and sweet radish slices ontop a bed of greek citrus yogurt}

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Seline also enjoyed some of Dad’s truffle fries, which came with a garlic aioli.

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For herself, she ordered a starter, the Margherita pizza. This featured tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, and thinly-sliced basil. Seline also wanted a plate of truffle fries with garlic aioli. She loves truffle fries and thought these were almost as good as the ones from the The Sandbar on Granville Island.

{Margherita Pizza: House tomato sauce, salted mozzarella, chiffonade basil, chili olive oil}

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Mom enjoyed the eggs Florentine, which came baked in a polenta and cream sauce. There were two poached eggs, some parmesan cheese, and lots of onions, mushrooms, and spinach. She really liked dipping the bread into the creamy sauce, which contrasted with the spinach. I tried some of her dish, and thought it was SO flavourful and rich!

{Poached eggs, spinach and mushrooms, parmesan cream sauce, polenta, sourdough}

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Mimi ordered a brunch dish as well. Hers starred chorizo (spanish sausage), poached eggs, and avocado. Hers was also topped with hollandaise sauce and chives.

{Chorizo + Mushroom Hash: Avocado, crispy fried potatoes, topped with poached eggs and hollandaise}

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Charles devoured a Croque-Madame, which is like the French grilled ham and cheese sandwich called the Croque-Monsieur – but topped with a poached egg and béchamel sauce.

{Grilled sourdough, poached egg, white cheddar, virginia ham, roasted serrano cream}

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And for me? THE BEST SALAD EVER. Also known as rocket salad with pecan-crusted chicken.

{Citrus dressed arugula, beets, pears, goat cheese coulis, spiced pecans, parmesan chips, pecan + porcini crusted chicken.}

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I love arugula. I love beets and pears. I really love goat cheese. Spiced pecans are my favourite salad topper. Parmesan chips are incredible. But pecan and mushroom-crusted chicken? I wasn’t so sure. But after the first bite, I was totally blown away! Nutty, flavourful, with a crisp texture outside and perfectly-cooked chicken inside. There was a lovely mushroom flavour as well, and of course, I love anything with pecans. This chicken was incredible and one of the highlights of the salad – along with the goat cheese dressing and tasty beets. I seriously NEED to make this salad at home!

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Here is Mom’s eggs Florentine dish again, which I nibbled from. I probably had a whole poached egg and a quarter of the spinach – but more than half the polenta! This was delicious, even without the bread. And the eggs were cooked flawlessly. I need to learn how to poach eggs like this at home. 😛

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After last time, we HAD to get dessert! I chose the same one – chocolate toffee pudding with vanilla bean ice cream and toffee sauce. Warm, rich, sweet, and chocolatey, this is my idea of the perfect dessert.

{Housemade warm chocolate cake drizzled with rich chocolate and toffee sauce, served with a scoop of vanilla gelato in a sugar candy basket}

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While I took five six massive bites of the rich chocolate cake, Charles had a sour key lime pie. His pie was topped with whipped cream and almond cracker crumbles, which were apparently hard enough to chip a tooth!

{A sweet yet tart key lime pie with its delicate graham waffer crust and topped with chantilly cream and crunchy almond crumbs}

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That’s it for today, everyone – I’m still organizing my Sunshine Coast photos and I can’t wait to show you 🙂

My Favourite Kind of Day

Pancakes, the farmer’s market, Greek food for lunch, and then gourmet ice cream?

That’s my kind of day! Let me show you what I did on Sunday 🙂 PS: This was the lovely Sunday before Victoria Day Monday, when I met the sweet Rachel of Moments with Rae at Matchstick Coffee!

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Started off with a glorious batch of banana pancakes topped with blackberries, hemp hearts, and maple syrup.  These look a bit thinner than usual because they were whipped up in the blender. I loved the flavour but texture-wise, I prefer the chunks you’d get from mashing. This was a great breakfast, and luckily not too filling!

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Then I laced up my sister’s runners and headed outside…

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Snapped a couple of photos in the backyard,

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And walked to the farmer’s market! The Poirier Street Farmer’s Market is open from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM every Sunday morning. It’s in the parking lot at the Dogwood Pavilion, by Centennial Secondary and the Senior Recreation Centre.

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There are three rows of lovely vendors and friendly customers.

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Have you tried rhubarb before? I’ve never, but I really want to try! Apparently it’s great with coconut and strawberries. Yum! Since it’s still spring, there weren’t many fruits available this week. In the summer, though, when everything is at the peak of ripeness, the market is TEEMING with stone fruits (cherries, nectarines, peaches), apples, and the freshest berries you could imagine.

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There were, however, lots of bread, cheese, baked goods, and plants! Lots of pretty flowers to admire. OH! And there are veggie pakoras that make the entire market smell incredible!

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Gesundheit Bakery is one of the most popular destinations here. My mom and I always stop by to pick up some raisin bread for Grandma.

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They have every type of rye bread, as well as multigrain buns, cheesy pretzels, and sweets like danishes and cinnamon buns. This time, we picked up a big, glazed cinnamon bun for Seline.

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There were lots of tents to stop by and admire. When you go to farmer’s markets, are you looking for specific things or do you simply like to browse the aisles and look at all the products? I think I’m a bit of both. 😛

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A Bread Affair has tons of delicious-looking gourmet breads and plenty of samples. Next time, I want to go early so I can pick up a scone or croissant. They look incredible and were definitely baked with utmost skill.

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Some stands sell yummy soup mix powders, others clothes and books and honey and handmade cutting boards. Everything is local – it has to be made in lower mainland BC to be sold here!

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One place that we absolutely love is Ace Curries to Go. You can check out their website here: http://www.acecurriestogo.com.  Ace Curries has so many flavourful mixes, spices, dips, and sauces. We’ve tried their coconut curry, curry stir-fry powder, and this time, we purchased the mango coconut curry. Can’t wait to cook it this weekend with some chickpeas… will let you know how tasty that is, soon!

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BobAli is my new favourite vendor. They sell all kinds of dips and spreads, and specialize in hummus. Check out the creative flavours below!

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I sampled a little scoop of every single hummus and finally decided on the 3 for $18.00 combo. I ended up choosing the Thai Green Coconut Curry Hummus, the Roasted Garlic and Truffle Hummus, and my absolute favourite, the Yam and Chipotle Hummus. You’ll see in a bit!

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Here is the pretty braided raisin bun and the huge cinnamon roll that we bought from the bakery. The raisin loaf, according to Gesundheit Bakery’s kind owners, is one of the most popular. We gave this loaf to Grandma. Seline enjoyed the cinnamon bun, too, but I think Mom liked it more. 😉

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Here is the mango curry we bought from Ace Curries, and their ingredient list if you were curious. Check out my extra pancakes cooling in the background! Pancakes make great leftovers, by the way – just heat them up in the microwave the next day.

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Here are my hummuses! Is ‘hummuses’ even a word? What’s the plural for hummus? Hmmm… 😛 Anyways, all three of them are really tasty. Here’s my review:

Thai Green Coconut Curry: VERY strong green curry flavour, and the coconut flavour is prominent too. It tastes authentically Thai and has a strong flavour with lots of spices. It is also a bit spicy, which I didn’t quite like. I prefer sweeter Thai curries. Of the three, this was my least favourite.

Roasted Garlic and Truffle: This is awesome spread in a sandwich, instead of mayonnaise or an aioli. It is very flavourful and has big chunks of roasted garlic. I can’t taste truffle at all in here. This was great, but more of a classic garlic hummus – there was nothing truly special about it.

Yam and Chipotle: This. Was. Incredible. I devoured half the container in a couple of days. On crackers, on toast, with eggs, with veggies, this hummus is the new almond butter! It is naturally sweet from the yams, and subtly smoky from the chipotle. I really, really love this hummus and would definitely buy it again. LOVED nibbling on it with crackers before lunch. 😉

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Golden Ears Cheesecrafters sold me a nice round of brie! I tried some on a sandwich with roasted garlic hummus (above), spinach, and shredded chicken one day. It melts like a dream and tastes awesome in omelettes. Like a grown-up, fancy version of mozzarella, in my opinion.

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Plus a container of strawberries! To be used in oatmeal. 🙂 After a bit of relaxing, we headed downtown to Taki’s Taverna!

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I’ve been to Taki’s once before with my good friend Yuki. We also had desserts from the Transylvanian dessert store across the street.

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We had calamari with tzatziki and pita bread to start.

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The mussels were a huge hit, and Seline was a major fan of the calamari. She ate most of it! 🙂

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Charles ordered the lamb souvlaki, and Seline had the chicken souvlaki. Man, it was HARD to take photos here! It was really dark and the lighting was horrendous. Most of the photos turned out blurry, which is why I didn’t capture some meals…

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I had the salmon souvlaki. Can you believe this was a small? I was pretty hungry initially, but this meal was super filling. I couldn’t finish it all! The salmon was excellent and cooked perfectly. The carrots were pretty good, but I didn’t like the green beans. Potatoes were pretty average, but my dad claimed they were way too sour (I thought the amount of lemony-ness was just right). The rice was a little bit oily, which is expected for a Greek restaurant, but the dill flavour was great. The cheese on the Greek salad was typical frozen feta cheese, and I didn’t think the tomatoes were particularly fresh.

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Mom had the lamb shank, and Grandma the rack of lamb. We all had the same sides, as you can see 🙂

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Dessert was ice cream from Rain or Shine in Vancouver. After much debate – peanut butter or brown butter snickerdoodle – I ordered the brown butter snickerdoodle. Oh, this was SO yummy. My favourite bites of the day! Seline had the chocolate, in a cone instead of a cup. She ended up putting it in a cup because it tipped over. My brown butter snickerdoodle ice cream was so, so good!

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Have an awesome day, guys!

☼ Brunch at the Sandbar ☼

Oh wow – we haven’t had lunch at a restaurant for a while! I think the last time we ate out as a big family was Cactus Club last month.

We’ve been to the Sandbar before, and it’s my favourite restaurant ever. It’s the best place for brunch, lunch, dinner, or anything really. 🙂 The Sandbar is on Granville Island, and the view from the place is amazing.

We started with some freshly-baked baguette and butter.

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Unfortunately I wasn’t able to have this because of my teeth (braces!), but the smell was delish enough. And I got to save my appetite for our amazing appetizers…

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Like these incredible truffle fries (topped with parmesan and truffle oil), with a heavenly garlic aioli. I think I had 30 of these?! :mrgreen: And some pan-fried oysters with spicy sauce. Loved these too! They tasted really fresh.

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A four-cheese and caramelized onion flatbread – the daily special. Yum… I had two big slices and the cheese was just AMAZING paired the the subtly smoky, sweet onion.

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These fries! I would eat them every day meal. We all loved it so much that we ordered seconds of this app!

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You can see Grandpa snapping a photo in the background. 🙂 On the right was what I started with – but of course I had seconds and thirds of just the appetizers!

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Here was my meal: the Greek salad with crispy chickpeas and grilled salmon. I love how I got a block of feta cheese rather than little crumbles. The crispy chickpeas were delicious and the salmon was perfectly cooked. The salad was awesome but not my favourite thing at the Sandbar (would prefer the apps and Mom’s entree – you’ll see in a second). It looks small in the picture but it was WAY more than enough for me!

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Seline ordered fish and chips with coleslaw and some dips. She loved her meal! Dad ordered the crispy fish burger.

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This was Mom’s seafood eggs benedict. She shared one with me, and I thought it was 100% perfect. The English muffin was replaced with a buttery biscuit, and the smoked salmon was really fresh and flavourful. Loved the baby shrimp, too! The eggs were runny (love wet yolks!) and the Hollandaise sauce was so, so good. Mom replaced the potatoes with a side salad with pumpkin seeds!

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Grandpa’s Caesar salad with crispy capers and grilled salmon:

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And my seafood eggs benedict with super runny yolk. TBH I always order benedicts for Mom when we go out to eat – because she can never finish two and I can “help her” finish them. 😉 But Mom doesn’t mind – she loves poached eggs on soft bread as much as I do, especially if they’re as good as the ones from the Sandbar.

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I ♥ed this meal – it was perfecto and I left super full. I don’t think I even needed an afternoon snack! Go Sandbar!