Moments of 2015 in Rocky

Have been an incredible slack at regular blogging 😩

Here are a few happenings since moving to Rockhampton and before going on vacation!

A quick visit from Stacy and Christine during their drive up to Townsville at the beginning of the year!

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Officially starting work as doctors and being featured in the weekly hospital publication 😛 with approximately 30 other wonderful colleagues!

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Experienced ice skating in Australia for the first time on January 18th. Winter Magic Ice Skating in Rockhampton – $18 for 1.5 hours on mediocre ice, in warm weather – the worst rental skates and ice conditions I’ve ever experienced (as a Canadian) but still so much fun! Being one the best skaters on the ice for once is pretty thrilling too 😛

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Thanks to everyone who came out!

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The Canadians have never sweated so much while skating 😩

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We have never had so many Huntsman spiders join our household until moving to Rockhampton. It is ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING. You know the well known fact that everything is a nope nope in Australia? That fact is correct.

OH HI GUYS

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CAN I COME IN? PLEASE?

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TOO LATE, I’M INSIDE.

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Laugh at me or not. Those photos were taken on different days and were different spiders! 😩

I have also had the opportunity of making many new friends and getting to know my old ones better, including one of my best – Amanda! ❀

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We can often be found enjoying delicious food together, including this tasty beef wasabi pizza from Pizza Capers 😉

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Visiting Mt Jim Crow with friends on February 7th. A gorgeous view!

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Looks more dangerous than it really is

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Pretty man with a pretty view

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We even caught a rainbow…

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Got nasty mosquito bites

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And ran into this fella lazily feasting

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The gang who climbed Mt Jim Crow!

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A few beautiful beach days were enjoyed!

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A quiet Valentine’s Day this year, as we do every year. I was working and Michael was off. I came home to a delicious home made dinner and some of our favourite red wine! Thank you love!

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Let us take a minute to remember Tropical Cyclone Marcia that hit Yeppoon on February 20th as a Category 4 and Rockhampton as a Category 3 later that day. Michael was meant to start work in the afternoon but it was too dangerous to go in. I was in hospital as the storm was passing through, here’s a short clip…

Received this photo from a friend who was home to give you an idea of the eye passing through!

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Many homes and businesses were affected by the storm, causing at least $750 million in structural damages. Lost power and water affected people for days, even weeks. Not to mention, the heat was unbearable!

The silver lining? Quality time and dinners in the dark. Very romantic no?

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We left for Brisbane on February 23, 2015. Still with no power but thankful we had clean, running water the entire time.

More adventures coming soon!

Anytime at the Giddy Goat

Giddy Goat Cafe & Bar is a favourite for many in Rocky and the perfect place to head with your family or friends at any time. Breakfast, lunch, midday coffee and snack, dinner, and late night drinks.

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With an expansion upstairs open Wednesday – Sunday, lots of room for everyone!

Not to mention they also have attractive specials including:

  • $5 steaks on Thursdays with $1 sides (coleslaw, corn, caesar salad, mashed potatoes, onion rings)
  • $2 tacos on Wednesdays (chicken, beef, fish, falafel)
  • Well priced drinks and daily special menus

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We have visited a number of times now, including on Thursday for the $5 steak special. Incredibly good deal, although you cannot expect an amazing quality steak 😉

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We have also stopped by during the day for coffee and cakes to catch up with friends.

Decent quality cakes available in the cabinet with numerous options and fair prices!

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The coffees ($3.50-4.80) aren’t bad and the slushies ($3-4.50) are tasty, although a tad on the sweet side.

There are also some pretty tasty lunch items including gourmet burgers and healthier options!

I was fooled. Ordered the Salmon, lettuce, avocado, red onion, feta and aioli ($14) thinking it was a fish burger – but it was smoked salmon! Still pretty tasty!

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My favourite type of roasted pork is the old school Asian styled. But this Crispy Pork Belly Salad with mixed lettuce, green beans, coriander, crispy noodles and honey soy dressing ($16) puts a nice spin on my traditional favourite!

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After numerous visits to the Giddy Goat, we have yet to be disappointed by the wait times for food and drinks. The service has also been impeccable – friendly and prompt. Now that we are settled in Rocky, will continue being a regular for sure!

Giddy Goat Cafe & Bar on Urbanspoon

Flour – Our new favourite cafe

It was a pleasure that one of the first cafes we dined at upon moving to Rockhampton, Flour, has become our favourite 🙂 Thank you for the recommendation Amanda!

Yes, it is a 25 minute drive away in Yeppoon, but definitely worth it! And considering we used to take public transport in Brisbane for longer periods of time when going out to eat, how could we possibly complain?

Immediate sign of a good cafe – it’s always buzzing! Which can sometimes concern you, “Am I going to have to wait forever for a table?” But the wait has never been too long for us. And they take reservations, which is even better.

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The second good sign – familiarity between customers and staff. Frequent diners! People don’t keep returning if they’re not happy right?

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The furniture and decor are mismatched and cute, giving off a fun, relaxed vibe.

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Sit down and look at the menu, but certainly don’t forget to check out the baked goods at the counter and in the fridges! Don’t be like me during my first visit and not leave room for cakes and pastries. For breakfast? Of course!

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I don’t drink coffee, but if Mike’s happy with his, then you’d be too!

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The menu is small but tantalizing and Michael, of course, must always try the Eggs Benedict. It sets the ‘food standard’ bar for him.

Eggs Benedict on ciabatta bread with smoked salmon, baby spinach, and hollandaise sauce ($17.50). Eggs beautifully poached, sauce delicious, with loads of salmon – worth it.

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I have a weakness for pumpkin (and haloumi cheese) when it comes to a breakfast menu… or any menu for that matter. So my choice was obvious: Spicy pumpkin fritters topped with baby spinach, poached eggs and bacon served with house made hollandaise ($17.50). Can you say a generous serving? I was stuffed! Not to mention it was delicious and definitely the kind of dish I would spend extra time trying to duplicate at home for a special weekend breakfast.

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And because you can’t see the pumpkin fritters from the above angle. I have had fritters at other restaurants where they have been soggy and/or dripping oil – not in this case!

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We have now visited a number of times and service has always been impeccable – friendly and efficient. Could not fault their food nor their service.

And yes, we most certainly have tried some of their cakes! Fresh, decadent, and delicious – there is definitely enough variety available on a daily basis to suit all sorts of sweet teeth!

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So far, our favourite ‘getaway’ cafe for breakfast or even just a drink and snack. Would definitely recommend Flour to everyone who’s stopping in Yeppoon! Don’t forget to share your experience 🙂

Flour on Urbanspoon

Saying farewell to our parents

December 27, 2014

Forever grateful for the time our parents spent in Australia with us…

Our time together can summed into a few words – family, fun, laughter, and delicious food.

Some more moments of our time together…

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One of my new favourite meals to prepare – grilled fish with tropical salad – delicious and healthy!

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It was a bittersweet farewell. But we were pretty excited. Excited to start preparing for our move to Rockhampton and beginning our careers as doctors in the new year. Sad to say good bye to our parents but we would be back in Canada in Feb-March for our holidays!

No time to diddle daddle, lots to do!

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2014

I’m chuckling because I’m writing about our Christmas in April – better late than never?

My mom and I decided to stay home and relax on Christmas, but Michael and his parents braved the hoards to experience Christmas on the beach 😛 Weather was good and they had a fun time!

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How many Canadians can say they spent Christmas in this kind of weather?

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I was adamant I would be cooking Christmas dinner – letting my mom relax. Unfortunately, it was one of my biggest cooking fails – a raw meat loaf – so upsetting! The other dishes were good, including corn, potato wedges, prawn toast and salad.

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Our first Christmas tree in Australia

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Beautiful, love our colour scheme!

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Family photo!

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In previous years, our cousins have always had a bit of fun at family get togethers, like colour coordinating our outfits, wearing ugly Christmas sweaters, custom made t-shirts, etc. Imagine my delight when Mike’s mom produced these funky Dollarama light necklaces – complete with 3 different modes and extra batteries!

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Had a glitch with one of them – ah, expected of Dollarama!

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Blueberry pie for dessert, thanks Caroline!

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Some more family photos before opening presents

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I look sort of like a monster here

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My love!

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Let me share some of the wonderful presents I received 🙂

Gorgeous ruby (my birthstone) and diamond earrings from Michael that nicely match a necklace he gave for Christmas in 2011

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A beautiful Ivanka Trump dress from my mom. I’ve received many compliments wearing it already!

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A nice leather Coach clutch from my sister and some delicious chocolate bars! Can’t find those in Australia!

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Presents from my brother…

A wine making kit. I haven’t used it yet, will have to soon!

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And an electronic measuring cup and ceramic knives – now staples in my kitchen 🙂

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From Michael’s parents, goodies from Canada!

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And a few items from his mom! The candle holders fit nicely in our new home in Rockhampton!

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Michael was very happy with my Christmas present to him – adding to his collection 😉

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It’s long passed, but I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday with your loved ones!

Early Christmas Dinner with the family

December 23, 2014

My family from Perth were staying in Brisbane until Christmas Eve evening. That meant we definitely had to take the opportunity to have an early Christmas dinner with everyone present.

If you know my family, food is a priority. You will never attend a family event with us and leave hungry. NEVER. EVER.

Visiting another city and living in a serviced apartment? No problem! The Nguyens always deliver!

Preparing the food is all part of the fun!

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Sneaking in some more views from their apartment

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The… Christmas tree?

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Some of the food dishes… all homemade!

Inari – aburaage (deep fried tofu) bags filled with rice. Our addition – topped with seaweed – yum!

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Variety of sushi rolls

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Vietnamese cold meat – thit nguoi – one of the traditional meats seen in Viet subs

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Roasted leg of lamb

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Shrimp cocktail ring with traditional Viet garlic mayo. So much better than marinara sauce!

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Curry egg salad

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Couscous salad

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Ong Ba Ba!

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Michael and his mom

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Ong Ba Ut

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My future parents-in-law 🙂

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Ba Ut and I

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View of the spread

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And as always, family photos before eating!

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She who cooks, carves

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Self serve buffet

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He’s so cute.

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The following day, December 24, 2014, was all about relaxation and spending our last day together. We ate Christmas leftovers and hung out at the apartment. Michael and his parents climbed Mt Ngungun during the day and joined us at the apartment in the afternoon to see my family off.

Love my family! Don’t know when I’ll see them next 😩 Thank you so much for everything, can’t wait to see you again! ❀

Graduation – Family Photos

December 21, 2014

With no other graduation ceremonies taking place, the University of Queensland campus was beautifully quiet for our family to take photos at a leisurely pace.

Campus is beautiful with sandstone and green back drops. For just one camera, a tripod and me running back and forth in heels to set up – I think the pictures turned out pretty good! What do you think?

Some of my favourites 🙂

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My pretty mom!

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Who knew this day would come?

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And always take the opportunities for pretty photos! That’s my rule 😉

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Everyone was ready for lunch by the time we were done taking photos – off to Wagaya for Japanese food!

We had a made a reservation and had our private room, which was nice!

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Sake for everyone, right mom? 😛

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Very happy everyone loved their food! It’s one of our favourite places and we were really happy to share with our families

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After lunch, we came back to our place… more about that in the next post!

Malaya Corner and meeting for the first time

December 19, 2014

Dinner out with my family from Perth, and they were meeting Michael and his family for the first time!

Michael and I suggested Malaya Corner for dinner as it has a lots of seating, and tasty, generous dishes for a very reasonable price.

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Unfortunately, some of my family members really didn’t like their dishes and jokingly vowed never to return 😛

Some of our dishes

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Even though the food may not have been the best, the company sure was!

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I don’t remember the last time I had a meal out together with both my Ong Ba Ba and Ong Ba Ut, making memories for a lifetime!

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Glad Michael and his parents had the chance to meet some of my family as well!

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We walked over to King George Square after dinner to enjoy the Christmas Lights Spectacular show

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Then walked my family back to their apartment. It was getting late and everyone was ready to call it a night.

We did, however, take a few more family photos!

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Thank you to Ong Ba Ba for treating us to our first family meal out together! ❀

Family arrives from Perth!

Around close to midnight on December 18, 2014, my mom and I greeted our family arriving from Perth. Welcome to Brisbane!

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My great aunt (grandma’s sister) and uncle Ut (Ong Ba Ut), my great uncle (grandma’s brother) and aunt Ba (Ong Ba Ba), and my Aunt Loan (Ong Ba’s daughter). Who’ve traveled to Brisbane in order to celebrate our graduation with us!

I helped them rent a 2 bedroom serviced apartment at Lexicon Oaks in the city, which they were really happy with. Spacious, had all the amenities, a gorgeous city view, and in great location. Consistently good customer service as well, would highly recommend if you’re looking for a place to stay in the city!

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It was already so late by the time we got back to their apartment, we called it a night with plans to catch up the next day.


December 19, 2014

How good is it to catch up with family?

Ong Ba has Alzheimer’s disease. Although he may have difficulties remembering the conversations we just had (sometimes starting with, “Who are you again?” haha), he is such a delight with his humour and stories! Although he doesn’t remember me as he wasn’t around when I was growing up, he fondly remembers my mom! And my grandparents, aunts and uncles back in Canada.

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My Ba Ut, who has always supported me and my decision to come to Australia to study. She is eerily similar to my grandma in some ways – especially her cadence 😛

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Us with Ong Ba Ba – Ba Ba is well known in the family for her style and loud hospitality with guests

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My mom made a very simple (yet delicious) lunch of pumpkin soup and ginger chicken with rice. It was really nice to have a large sit down, family meal which conversing in Viet – something I’ve missed!

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Family photo 🙂 The only person I haven’t mentioned yet, Ong Ut! Always ready with a joke and a laugh!

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With full tummies after lunch, it was decided that we would go out for dinner later that day, to officially meet Michael and his parents… dun dun dun 🙂

A tasty catch Breakfast at Chouquette

December 17, 2014

It’s silly that it’s taken me so many months to share such a gem – but here it is! Now that we are living in Rockhampton, I can only daydream of having delicious French pastries again soon!

Founded and managed by Lara Sample, Chouquette opened in 2006… I didn’t visit until 2014, what a shame! At least we got a few visits in before moving away.

With the skills of French-born and trained bakers and pastry chefs, alongside Australian staff, Chouquette consistently produces authentic and high quality delights. It’s easy to see why customers return again and again.

In 2013, Chouquette’s sister business, Crust & Co, opened in Wilston as a wholesale business that also caters to the public. If you know me, then I’ve definitely told you how much we love Crust & Co! Chouquette is no different, with the bonus of more options and atmosphere!

The small bakery in New Farm opens at 6:30am Weds-Sunday. Get in early for the best selection of goodies, as well as a seat! There are a handle of seats indoors and a few more outside on the sidewalk. Definitely not a place to set up shop and study for the day, but a bite to eat and catch up with friends is perfect! You will also notice a consistent stream of customers come in for take away goodies through out the day.

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The variety makes the selection process difficult. Do I want cakes? Or pastries? Or bread? It often ends with, “I’ll have a bit of everything!”

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Service has always been fantastic and one of the few opportunities I’ve had to hear and speak French since moving to Australia!

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Prices are definitely on the higher side than what I’m used to, especially compared to back in Canada. But once in a while is definitely worth it 😉

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One of my favourite breakfast options are their filled baguettes! Fresh, delicious, crispy baguette with a variety of toppings. They are max $9.00 and one of my favourites is salami, provolone, basil, lettuce and tomato.

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We love all the pastries, although haven’t had the opportunity to try many of their cakes yet.

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Here a few yums!

Mille feuille – good cream but the pastry is a little too dark.

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Canele – beautiful and tasty! Although the ones we’ve had at Macarons et Madeleines in Ottawa will always be the best!

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Good coffees

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And of course, can’t forget to mention the good company! 😉

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Definitely worth a visit, I know I’ll be coming back when I have the chance!

Chouquette Patisserie & Café on Urbanspoon

Fam in Brisbane: Beach getaway at The Sanctuary

December 06-13, 2014

The day my mom, Mike and I got back from our Singapore/Malaysia trip coincided with the arrival of Mike’s family to Brisbane.

For a week of relaxation and to spend time together, we booked a holiday home at Noosa (Sunshine Coast). The house was large, beautiful, and comfortable. Tucked away giving privacy and tranquility.

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Spacious kitchen, even a deck and BBQ.

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The only downfall? The Sanctuary is located on Upper Hastings Drive (not mentioned in the listing) which required a hike up 200 steep stairs. Good exercise for Michael and I, but a little difficult to enjoy for the rest of our group.

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The view was nice though!

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We spent every day at the beach, often with a 6am morning swim before breakfast.

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My mom was amazing. She marinated numerous types of Vietnamese meats and we had delicious BBQs almost every night. We also did go out for a few meals, including this cozy and yummy breakfast at Gaston!

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My mom showing us one of the activities she enjoyed as a kid – making butterflies from flowers

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Sunshine, the ocean, good food, board games, catching up on books, talks and laughs… vacation always seems to pass too quickly!

SIN/KL 2014: Finally doctors & seeing KL!

December 02, 2014

After returning from Batu Caves, Nasir suggested we stay in Sentral Station food court for lunch. Mike and I love cheap, every day food, so it was perfect choice!

We wandered around the small cafeteria trying to make up our minds but eventually settled on Nasi Ayam, also known as chicken rice. Rice was super fragrant having been cooked in chicken broth with succulent, melt in your mouth roasted chicken.

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Other dishes at our table included rice with a selection of curries.

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Now for some most exciting news! We had been waiting days for the results of our final exams, aka OSCEs that you can read about HERE. Our graduation was contingent on passing these clinical exams and although we were enjoying ourselves traveling, we didn’t fail to check for the release of our marks a few times a day.

There happened to be free wifi at Sentral Station Food Court and Mike checked his Facebook only to see his newsfeed flooded with updates from our friends saying they had passed medical school. That only meant one thing: OSCE results had been released! I still vividly remember Michael holding his tray of chicken rice with one hand and trying to log onto Blackboard with the other hand, shuffling at a snails pace to our table and hoping he wouldn’t lose his internet connection.

My mom and I waited with bated breath until he finally proclaimed, “I passed!” After quick congratulations, I immediately grabbed the phone to check my results.

Marks released

And we both had passed! We were officially doctors! Well, not really I guess until we graduate, but we did it! We had successfully completed medical school! For the first time since starting our trip, we were finally and completely carefree, woo hoo!

The (terrible quality) photo Michael posted to his Instagram with the caption, “Officially done med school! Celebrating with some Chicken Rice in Malaysia of course!”

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For the rest of the day, we enjoyed ourselves walking around KL and taking in some of the sights.

Environmentally friendly Christmas trees!

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Love the palm trees lining the roads

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Monorail, monorail! Can always find some sort of new development going on

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Petronas Twin Towers in the distance. “According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH)’s official definition and ranking, they were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004 and remain the tallest twin towers in the world replacing the World Trade Center in New York. The buildings are a landmark of Kuala Lumpur, along with nearby Kuala Lumpur Tower.”

We decided not to pay RM 80 ($26 CAD) just to walk the Skybridge and visit the Observation Deck, but you could if you wanted!

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Walked through the peaceful KLCC Park towards Lake Symphony which faces the Suria KLCC Mall. Gigantic Christmas tree out front with lots of passersby taking photos or sitting down by the water and enjoying the scenery.

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Suria Mall with Petronas Twin Towers in the distance

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Looking out at Lake Symphony, waiting for night fall to watch the light and water show…

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After a few teases, the Suria KLCC Lake Symphony Light and Sound Show eventually started! Loud music with whimsical light and water dancing – not bad!

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Towers light up so nicely at night!

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We were having so much fun enjoying the views that we didn’t realize it was getting late and we were hungry!

Perhaps not the most authentic Malaysian food we could’ve chosen, but this double decker at Pizza Hut (although not nearly as good looking as the menu photo) was pretty darn tasty!

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Long day! We headed back to the hotel after dinner and called it a night. Adventures ahead tomorrow!

SIN/KL 2014: Batu Caves

December 02, 2014

Arrived from Singapore at Sentral Station in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia! The first thing we did – have McDonald’s for breakfast. My first time visiting a predominantly Muslim country and an interesting fact was learned immediately: no pork products are offered on McDonald’s menus as their kitchens are certified Halal. We enjoyed breakfast sandwiches with chicken sausages for the first time, super tasty!

After breakfast, Nasir (my mom’s friend’s nephew) came to meet us. Always nice to have a friend join you in an unfamiliar country! We grabbed a taxi to Sky Hotel, where we would be staying for a night. The rooms are cheap and very spacious, however, would we recommend staying there? Likely not, One of the main reasons we chose Sky Hotel was its advertised free wifi, which did not work the entire time we were there. Luckily they had desktops downstairs we could use. Unfortunately, we were quite stressed awaiting the results of final exams and not having wireless internet that we paid for didn’t help!

We dropped our luggage at the hotel and immediately headed to Batu Caves, nearly an hour (13km) north of KL via the Komuter train.

(Quoted information taken from Wikipedia)

“The cave is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India,and is dedicated to Lord Murugan. It is the focal point of Hindu festival of Thaipusam in Malaysia. The 42.7-metre (140 ft) high statue of Lord Murugan was unveiled in January 2006, having taken 3 years to construct. It is the tallest Lord Murugan statue in the world.”

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“Rising almost 100 m above the ground, the Batu Caves temple complex consists of three main caves and a few smaller ones. The biggest, referred to as Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave, has a very high ceiling and features ornate Hindu shrines. To reach it, visitors must climb a steep flight of 272 steps.”

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“At the base of the hill are two more cave temples, Art Gallery Cave and Museum Cave, both of which are full of Hindu statues and paintings.”

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Some more photos taken at the bottom of the stairs.

I feel like I would never put myself in such a situation, unless I really wanted pigeons to poop on me.

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Many sweets and snacks to try

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“There are various undeveloped caves which contain a diverse range of cave fauna, including some unique species, such as Liphistiidae spiders and Eonycteris and fruit bats. The site is also well known for its numerous macaques, which visitors feed — sometimes involuntarily.”

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Try and visit early in the morning so the sun isn’t at its peak! And bring water 🙂

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Appropriate attire should be worn, especially for ladies – shoulders and knees covered!

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Halfway up, looking back over the statue of Lord Murugan at KL

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On the way up, we stopped to visit the Dark Cave. “Below the Temple Cave is the Dark Cave, with rock formations and a number of animals found nowhere else. It is a two-kilometer network of relatively untouched caverns. Stalactites jutting from the cave’s ceiling and stalagmites rising from the floor form intricate formations such as cave curtains, flow stones, cave pearls and scallops which took thousands of years to form. In order to maintain the cave’s ecology, access is restricted. The Malaysian Nature Society organises regular educational and adventure trips to the Dark Caves.”

Entrance to Dark Cave, about 3/4 of the way up the main flight of stairs, on the right. Please visit their website for more information about the cave, its conservation and tours.

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Some of the cave formations at the entrance to Dark Cave

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Nasir and my mom… chickening out of the tour of Dark Cave.

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Micheal and I paid RM 35 ($11 CAD) to take part in a 45-minute guided Educational Tour. The tour takes place with a small group and education officer who guides us through a talks about “cave history, the unique guano driven ecosystem and the geological formations as you marvel at the sights and sounds of the Dark Cave.”  Don’t worry, you are provided with hard hats (protection against guano/bat poop!) and flashlights. Our guide, Faiz, was knowledgeable, experienced and had a great sense of humour. He made sure everyone followed the rules (no flash photography, no shining torches above shoulder level, no veering off the pathway, etc), stayed together and didn’t get left out.

It was hard to take photos in the pitch black cave, but here are a few of the animal life we encountered.

The yellow blob is guano (bat poop) with nearby worms feasting on it

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Not your average centipede. As you can see, these ones have evolved extra long legs to allow them better accommodation in the darkness of the cave.

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Other animal life we saw but couldn’t take photos of included bats, cave cockroaches, and spiders (though not the trapdoor spider). We weren’t fortunate enough to sight the Cave Racer snake! We also saw numerous unique cave structures including: stalactites, stalagmites, cave curtains, cave pearls, and more!

Cave selfies!

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Unlike the majority of the tour, closer to the end you reach an area where some sunlight streams through. A great opportunity to take a memorable photo!

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From here, the tour ends and you are guided back out the way you come. Opportunities for further questions are available at the end, and if you want, you could even sign up for the Adventure Tour, a 3-4 hour guided tour that takes you further into the caves with elements of crawling, climbing and sliding 😉 Unfortunately for us, this tour is only offered on the weekends or we would’ve participated!

After visiting the Dark Cave, we continued up the 272 steps to reach the Temple Cave

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The interior of Batu Caves

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Main temple of Murugan inside Temple Cave

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Closer view of the main temple’s roof

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Regular inhabitants include not only monkeys but also pigeons!

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It was sad to see such a visited site so filthy. Garbage strewn all around, didn’t look like it had been cleaned in a long time. Such a shame.

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The cave is extremely tall with pockets of sunlight shining through

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We ended our trip to Batu Caves with refreshing fresh coconuts and a small snack to hold us over until we got back into KL 🙂

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If you have a few hours, I would definitely recommend a visit to Batu Caves! Extremely easy and cheap in terms of transportation from KL and we would definitely recommend a visit to the Dark Cave! A great educational opportunity and your fee will go towards conservation.

SIN/KL 2014: Dinner at Gardens by Bay

December 01, 2014

After our visit to the domes at Gardens by the Bay, we walked around and enjoyed the nearby sights, including the Supertrees in daytime.

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Here are a few facts regarding the Supertrees, taken from the Gardens by the Bay website:

  • These unique trees of up to 16 storeys in height can be found all around the Gardens – twelve at the Supertree Grove, while the remaining six are placed in clusters of threes at the Golden and Silver Gardens.
  • 11 Supertrees are embedded with environmentally sustainable functions like photovoltaic cells to harvest solar energy.
  • Supertrees are made of four parts: reinforcement concrete core, trunk, planting panels of the living skin, and canopy.
  • Over 162,900 plants comprising more than 200 species and varieties of bromeliads, orchids, ferns and tropical flowering climbers are planted on the Supertrees.
  • Garden Rhapsody – When night falls, watch as the Supertrees come alive with a dazzling myriad of light displays bursting across the sky.

At 6pm, we met with my Aunt Tam at Supertree Dining for a casual dinner and catching up! Aunt Tam grew up in Australia and is currently working in Singapore. Michael and I have been lucky, this is now the second time we’ve been able to meet up with her in Singapore!

We decided on dinner at Hill Street Coffee Shop, one of the numerous options within Supertree Dining. Other options include: American diner food, Italian and even Texas Chicken.

A simple but tasty dinner of satay, laksa and nasi lemak. Even better was the company 🙂

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With Aunt Tam!

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After dinner, we enjoyed the lit up Supertrees and there was even fake snow (in the form of little soap foam bubbles) within the large lit up castle-like structure! Everyone was loving and it was be the closest thing to snow we would enjoy this year 😛

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Our timing was great and we got to sit and enjoy the Garden Rhapsody light show!

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Unfortunately, we couldn’t hang out too late. Aunt Tam had work the next morning, and we had an overnight train to catch to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia!

SIN/KL 2014: Cheese & Chocolate Bar at Marina Bay Sands

November 30, 2014

[Note: Sorry everyone, I’ve come to learn that the Chocolate & Cheese Bar is now closed until January 5th when it will reopen at Tower 2 on Level 55. It’s too bad because you won’t have the opportunity to visit the rooftop as part of your dining experience :(]

We highly recommend booking yourselves an indulging late night buffet at The Cheese & Chocolate Bar on the top (57th) floor of Marina Bay Sands Hotel if you have time during your visit to Singapore. Yes, it is pricey ($48/person + service charge and without wine pairings) but is a great experience! Mike and I went last year when it was still only a chocolate buffet, imagine our excitement not only for the opportunity to take my mom, but that it’s now also a cheese buffet!

On arrival to Marina Bay Sands, you need to see the hostess of RISE Restaurant in the lobby to get your pass up to the 57th floor. You need this pass not to use the elevator but to be let onto the roof terrace once you reach the top. As you walk towards the restaurant, don’t forget to take your time and enjoy the amazing unobstructed night view of Singapore and the renowned infinity pool.

We were warmly greeted at the entrance and escorted into the restaurant. The wonderful aroma of chocolate welcomes you as you enter the dining area and shown to your table. You can request to sit inside where it’s air conditioned or outside to enjoy the view. The ambiance is warm, the decor rich in shades of brown, and service friendly.

You can have optional wine pairings which are an additional $19 or $27, we opted for just teas and coffees, which were quite good! No time was wasted and we were quickly checking out the tasty delights and filling our plates.

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The set up is quite compact and small, however, lots of different presentations of chocolate on every bench.

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There is also a manned station with its featured dish made to order. Last visit, they were chocolate donuts with your choice of flavoured sugars. This time it was a chocolate banana gallette with vanilla ice cream.

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Mike and I have a system. We share one item between the two of us – that way, we don’t eat as much and get to try as many dishes as possible 😉 As you can see and imagine, there were lots of delectables!

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Such a wonderful variety of flavours, textures and presentations, really something for everyone. There were too many good ones to choose a favourite!

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These were our only 2 misses: ginger chocolate poached pear with a flake of gold on top (ou, fancy) and macarons. The macarons looked good, but had a terrible texture to them, not at all what they should be like.

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We started with chocolate, but don’t forget this is also a cheese buffet! From their info page, “The newly added cheese buffet offers 12 types of the finest cheese brought in from France, Italy, Spain and United Kingdom. Cheese lovers will be treated to a spread of hard cheese, soft cheese, blue cheese and goat cheese along with accompaniments. Round up the evening from a selection of six wines specially paired with each type of cheese for a divine experience.”

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Accompaniments included a range of breads, crackers, crisps, chutneys, honeys, nuts and dried fruit.

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A great selection of blue cheeses to Michael’s enjoyment! I’m trying to acquire a taste for blue cheese, but I think I need a lot more work 😛

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Dress up, come hungry and enjoy a great night out above the city of Singapore.

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Also, don’t forget to take in the views! My pretty mom enjoyed it!

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The Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, as well as the Supertree grove of Gardens by the Bay.

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Looking out from the infinity pool on the other side of Marina Bay Sands is Singapore’s skyline – beautiful!

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After dinner, enjoy a walk around Marina Bay Sands, take in the decor, enjoy the views and maybe even watch the light show! Until next time! 🙂

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SIN/KL 2014: Singapore Zoo & River Safari

November 30, 2014

After breakfast at the hotel, we hopped on a bus and headed for Singapore Zoo. It would be the first of the 3 parks we chose to visit as part of our 3-in-1 Park Hopper ticket for $89.

As usual, it was hot but the weather was quite bearable. We spent a few hours checking out all the different animals and actually covered the whole zoo, except for Kidzworld. You can click HERE to look at a map of the zoo.

Here are only some of the animals we saw… some of which I’ve posted a couple times already from our previous visits… but they’re so cute!

Since our first visit to Singaore Zoo, Mike’s favourite animal has been the Lesser Mouse Deer, seen here.

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This time, we saw the Greater Mouse Deer for the first time and now Michael has changed his mind. The Greater one doesn’t look as frail and sickly 😛

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Playful Asian Otter

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Huge flying foxes

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Babirusa with tusks/upper canines that penetrate through its face. If they don’t grind their husks, through regular activity, they can continue to grow and penetrate their skull!

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My mom had a lot of additional fun checking out the different flora at the zoo. We often poke fun of her for taking so many photos of trees!

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We saw some Red River Hogs for the first time… my conclusion is they are the ugliest friendly looking creatures I’ve ever met.

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Another first for us, Tree-kangaroos! They are pretty cute. Can you believe in our 4 years of living in Australia, we have never heard of this marsupial? Apparently they are quite slow on the ground, clumsy and walk awkwardly at a human’s pace. In the trees, however, they are agile climbers and leapers.

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Some Hamadryas Baboons. There are quite of a few of these in the Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia and it is such fun watching the interaction in their troops. Grooming, little ones being taken care of by older baboons and fights breaking out between the males are a common sight.

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Big butt tumour

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Mongoose looking very serious

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Celebes Crested Macaque. I always find these apes always look so proper and elegant, you?

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Capuchins have tails that can be as long as their bodies and are considered to be the most intelligent New World Monkey. They are often used in laboratories and noted for their long term use of tools, one of the few primates aside from apes to do so.

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Asian elephants

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My love at the zoo!

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There are only 2 species of orangutans, exclusively Asian and are native to Indonesia and Malaysia, and currently found only in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra.

A Bornean orangutan hoarding food and climbing tree tops.

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Some Sumatran orangutans pigging out and looking pensive.

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A Sun Bear hiding behind a tree and being silly

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I’ve never seen these before, White Faced Saki, they have such thick luscious hair!

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The female White Faced Saki has shorter brown/grey fur with pale stripes around the corners of its nose and mouth. This one even had a little one!

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Red Lories playing… or maybe being bullied

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A lion enjoying the sunshine

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The cute meerkats!

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After the Singapore Zoo, we took a break and had some lunch. The most expensive (although good) nasi lemak we’ve ever had in Singapore, coming in at $9.90! That’s what you get for eating at an attraction!

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We then moved on to the second park – River Safari, a completely separate enclosure next door to the Singapore Zoo. The River Safari is more guided, one continuous pathway to follow as you can see HERE on the map.

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We started with Rivers of the World, travelling through and seeing animals from all the major rivers including: Congo, Mekong, Nile, Mississippi, Gangee, and Yangtze. Some very interesting fish and amphibians!

Two of the prettier fish I photographed, unfortunately can’t remember names!

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My favourite exhibit – the Red Pandas! They are so cute but can be very active, making it very hard to get these photos!

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Great pandas! Both Kai Kai and Jia Jia were super shy today, hard to get pictures!

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FYI, there are a number of animals you can only see (giant anteaters, capybaras, jaguars, etc) if you go on the Amazon River Quest ride, which we didn’t do.

Lastly, we stopped in the Amazon Flooded Forest where we sat and peacefully watched manatees, freshwater stingrays and other creatures gracefully swim…

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Until next time!

SIN/KL 2014: On a plane to Singapore!

November 29, 2014

See these excited faces? Off to Singapore!

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An uneventful flight with Scoot, followed by a short day in Singapore. Getting to Moon Hotel (stopping at Tekka Market in Little India for food on the way), resting and having a late but delicious dim sum dinner at Swee Choon!

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My mom finally had a taste of Swee Choon’s amazing Salted Egg Yolk Custard Buns that we’ve been raving about. Other favourites definitely included the Portugese Egg Tarts and Red Bean Paste Pancake.

Now I’m really craving dim sum


SIN/KL 2014: Vietnamese dinner at From Bac to Nam

November 28, 2014

Across the street from Outrigger Resort, as part of Burleigh Gold Coast Motel, was Bac to Nam Vietnamese Dining.

It had been a very long time since the three of us visited a Viet restaurant (nothing beats home cooked food right?), but we were all intrigued and decided to give it a try.

The first thing we liked about the restaurant was its unique name. Bac to Nam means ‘North to South’, alluding to a menu that includes items from North, Central and South Vietnam.

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Upon entering, the restaurant was dimly lit with nice ambiance and lovely, traditional décor. Resembling a hut with wooden tables and benches, with simplistic containers for utensils and napkins.

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Around the walls were canvases of scenes from Vietnam, some of which we have even personally visited.

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Mom got Vietnamese Prawn Fried Rice ($16) – generous amount of prawns and well seasoned. Good Vietnamese iced coffee too!

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Michael chose Chili pork with rice ($17) that he really enjoyed.

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And I got Pork belly with homemade sauce and rice ($18). The pork belly tasted homemade, succulent with crispy crackling and accompanied by a subtle sauce.

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Portions smaller than expected, but good home-style food, not to expect anything fancy or extravagant. We had an enjoyable night but did find the menu to be quite a bit more expensive compared to Vietnamese restaurants in Brisbane. They are licensed now as well so you can enjoy a beer with your food!

Bac To Nam Vietnamese Dining on Urbanspoon

Having friends over for dinner!

October 24, 2014

After so many months of talking about getting together for a catch up, we finally did it! Bing came over for dinner and we agreed on preparing a 3 course meal between the three of us. Unfortunately, I, of all people, forgot to take a group photo! 😩 Instead, I only have photos of our meal.

Bing prepared the entree – Perfectly cooked mussels in beer with Asian flavours. We prepared the main dish (Banh Tam Xiu Mai) as well as the dessert – Vietnamese Flan. My first time making flan with over-the-phone-directions from my mum, turned out way better than expected!

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Felt like we could’ve kept talking through the night. Had a great time and can’t wait to do it again!


October 27, 2014

Being able to get to know Sam over this year was definitely a treat, especially during our Obstetrics & Gynaecology rotation. Lots of laughs and assistance with keeping sanity were provided on his end. I was lucky, I even got to hear stories of his relationship, including his plan to propose! If you know me, you know I get super duper excited for other people when it comes to things like this. Both Mike and I were very happy to learn of their engagement while we were back in Canada! Unfortunately, we didn’t attend Sam & Kim’s engagement party. But… we finally got the chance to catch up and more importantly, meet Kim!

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We invited them over for dinner and without thinking, decided to make Thai green curry with rice for dinner on a super hot day. The heat and spice may have been a little overwhelming, our bad! Sam & Kim brought equipment over to make hotcakes for dessert. Unfortunately, what they didn’t know ahead of time is our microwave is broken and can only run for a total of 4.5 minutes before it dies. These hotcakes that were meant to be a simple dessert because they were prepared in advance and only needed cooking in the microwave ended up having to be steamed over the stove. Sorry guys!

Delicious though! Full of citrus flavours with a dollop of cream balancing out the sweetness.

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Thanks for coming guys!

Dinner with friends at Capri Bar Cafe

October 19, 2014

With a very pleasant previous experience at Capri Bar Cafe in Emporium in the past, we invited a few friends to join us for a revisit. A 50% off special was being offered through Dimmi at our time of booking, which made the experience more worthwhile.

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We were a group of 5 and similar to our previous visit, service was excellent. Staff were attentive, friendly, and happy to accommodate any requests – thank you!

For wine, we ordered a bottle of 2009 Solar Viejo Tempranillo from Rioja Spain ($49). It was the first time any of us had tried a Tempranillo, a black grape variety, and quite enjoyed it.

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Our friend Xuan decided to try out two main dishes while the remaining 4 of us decided to order a variety of entrees to share. This worked out really nicely as the share plates were perfectly sized and portioned.

Our share plates!

Mediterranean Bruschetta – House made olive tapanade with roasted pumpkin and grilled haloumi ($13). Really tasty and definitely an easy inspirational dish to try out at home!

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Mediterranean Koftas – Mediterranean lamb koftas served with a chick pea and rocket salad, tzatziki and Turkish bread ($17). These were moist, flavourful and delicious! Loved the freshness of the tzatziki sauce as well.

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Chicken & Haloumi – Grilled chicken served with roasted beetroot and rocket salad finished with grilled haloumi ($16.50). Salad was nicely dressed but as you can guess from this photo, the chicken was a little dry and unfortunately not very seasoned.

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Arancini – Baked beetroot and walnut arancini, served with a rocket salad and a side of marinated fetta ($16). One of our favourites. In addition to the taste, the colour from the beetroot really makes this dish stand out!

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Chicken Fritters – Oven baked sweet potato and zucchini fritters, with grilled chicken strips and house made tahini yoghurt ($18). The fritters (and the sauce) were great, another dish I’d love to try and recreate at home, especially when they’re baked and not fried. Unfortunately, this dish also contained the same unexciting chicken strips!

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Capri Pizza – Air dried beef rib fillet, semi dried tomatoes, olives and roasted eggplant with mozzarella and fetta cheese ($24). With all our food coming out at once, the pizza was a little cooled by the time we got to it but still good! Thin crispy crust and a good mixture of ingredients, would’ve never thought to add roasted eggplant to any pizza but it works well!

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Xuan’s first main was Prawn & Calamari Spaghetti – Local prawns and baby calamari, marinated in chilli and garlic with Italian parsley and extra virgin olive oil ($28.50). Nicely balanced dish with a flavourful sauce and good quality seafood, although perhaps frozen as opposed to fresh prawns.

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His second dish was NT Barramundi – Grilled Barramundi fillet served on sweet potato Roman gnocchi with parmesan roasted cauliflower and avocado salsa ($33). The fish was fresh and nicely cooked but he didn’t find the ingredients worked well together which made the dish overall not memorable.

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Sharing small dishes is great because it leaves room for dessert 😉

Xuan and Yung Howe had a slice of Flourless Chocolate Cake – Warm flourless chocolate cake with white chocolate ganache, berry coulis and vanilla gelato ($13) – mmm yummy!

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Yoni really enjoyed a Macadamia Brownie – Dark chocolate, roasted macadamia brownie served with white chocolate ganache and vanilla gelato ($13).

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We all agreed that plating of the previous 2 desserts, in particular the sauces, a little… tacky 🙂

Mike and I had an exceptional Sticky Date Pudding – Banana sticky date with butterscotch sauce and vanilla gelato ($13) – the perfect hot and cold, salty and sweet dessert combination!

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We had a great dinner, with many more hits with our food than misses. Lots of fun catching up and sharing stories and the night ended on a high note with a surprise – some port on the house! Thanks to the staff at Capri Bar Cafe for their awesome service and good food! Total bill came to $150 which was definitely a steal! Looking forward to visiting again 🙂

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Capri Cafe Bar on Urbanspoon

Breakfast at Pig ‘N’ Whistle

October 18, 2014

After a failed attempt to have breakfast at a (what we learned to be very) popular bakery in New Farm, we decided to instead enjoy a meal at the new Pig ‘N’ Whistle in Fortitude Valley.

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Taken from their website:

Opened in mid 2014, the Brunswick Street venue is the newest addition to the iconic Pig ‘N’ Whistle family.

Situated in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane’s main entertainment hub, this venue has prime position in the heart of the city’s most popular nightlife spots. Pig ‘N’ Whistle Brunswick Street boasts two outdoor beer gardens, stunning high ceilings and exposed brick heritage listed architecture – all combined to make it a celebrated venue for local residents and visitors to Brisbane.

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Downstairs, the venue has a large and open modern kitchen, which focuses on local produce and simple and delicious pub food. Local craft beer and British ales frequent the many taps throughout the venue and are complemented by an extensive wine list. Pig ‘N’ Whistle Brunswick Street is the newest offering in Brisbane’s nightlife and the ultimate ‘local’ for people looking for a great, non-pretentious, atmosphere and good quality food and beverages.

It was a quiet Saturday morning with a few other patrons scattered across the different dining areas.

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After placing our orders, we opted to sit outside. Really liked the accent mirrors on the old brick walls!

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Our orders came out quickly which was great because we were starving!

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Mike ordered the Eggs Royale – Tasmanian smoked salmon, poached eggs, spinach, avocado, sourdough toast ($16) and a flat white ($3.70). Today was the day I learned the difference between Eggs Benedict and Eggs Royale… they’re the same, except Eggs Royale uses salmon in place of ham. Eggs were nicely poached, generous amount of decent smoked salmon with a nice Hollandaise sauce. Coffee was good too!

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A softie for Haloumi cheese, I decided on the Greek Breakfast – Grilled haloumi, eggs your way, mushroom, tomato, avocado, spinach, sourdough toast ($18). As you can see from the photo, Mike’s poached eggs and mine were like night and day. Mine were a stringy hot mess, with nearly naked yolks and the whites tasting too vinegary. If this were my restaurant, I would be upset if someone served those eggs to customers. Good quality (not too salty) Haloumi and nicely ripened, buttery avocadoes partly made up for my failed eggs.

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We had good service and really liked the day time atmosphere of Pig ‘N’ Whistle but think the night vibe would be even better. The food (aside from my eggs) was better than anticipated. Would definitely return at night to check out the bar and non-breakfast menu!

Romantic evening at Baguette Bistrot & Bar

October 13, 2014

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Our first experience dining at Baguette Bistrot & Bar on Racecourse Rd in Ascot! Greeted by a cozy bar at the front, we were directed to the dining area which exuded great ambiance with a variety of seating arrangements and dimmed, romantic lighting.

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“Are you celebrating your anniversary?” Ricky asked as he showed us to our table.

No, we weren’t 🙂 But we certainly love a nice evening out! And our 50% Dimmi Special reservation was just a prelude to a lovely night!

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We were seated at a spacious table for 2, given menus, and left alone to peruse.

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Even though it was only Monday night, we gleefully decided to share a bottle of wine. Uncharacteristic of us as we normally only have a glass. We picked out a bottle of 2009 Leeuwin Prelude Cabernet Merlot ($58.80). Unfortunately, I’m writing this over a month after our visit so other than remembering we really enjoyed it, I can’t tell you for exactly what reasons… 😛

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After having a look at the menu, Mike and I decided to order a number of entrees to share instead of going the typical route of entree, main, and dessert.

First up, Handmade artisan French sour dough baguette, salted butter (for two) $7.80. Love the simple but different presentation. A nicely warmed, crispy baguette with good quality butter – one of our favourites!

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Scallop carpaccio, shaved fennel, finger lime, citrus dressing (gf) $22.00. Scallop carpaccio (raw scallops) was a first for the both of us. Scallops were sweet and although we would’ve liked more acidity (even with the slices of blood orange) this dish definitely met our expectations.

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Escargots à la provençale, sour dough bread $20.00. We love escargots but have never tried them this way. Cooked perfectly, not chewy at all, these were delicious! Nicely seasoned and the garlic really shone through the tomato base without being overpowering. Adding a slice or two more bread would be perfect.

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Ricky and the other staff checked on us through out the meal and made sure we were enjoying ourselves. Ricky tried more than once to convince us that a second (and even third) bottle of wine could only make our evening better but we really couldn’t handle it! 😛

Pepper mill steak tartare, quail egg, fresh truffle (gf) $25.00. Steak tartare is a dish Michael only recently discovered (and really liked) so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try another version. Loved the presentation with the quail egg served in its shell and being able to pour it over the tartare ourselves. Although I’m not a fan of the consistency of raw egg whites and would’ve preferred just the egg yolk. The tartare was really nice in flavour and texture, we only wish there had been some frites/crisps/bread as an accompaniment!

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Twice baked fromage – soufflĂ© (v) $18.00. Mmm, this dish was so delicious. Super fragrant and fluffy, I want some now as I’m writing this! When we ordered souffle, we expected to see something tall and risen, so the plating seemed a little… flat – literally! Nevertheless, tasted amazing.

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Triple cooked potatoes, truffle aĂŻoli, parmesan (gf) $9.00. These were sinfully delicious. First of all, they are cooked in duck fat. If you haven’t had duck fat potatoes before, you are missing out. You just can’t get the same great flavours using oils! When we asked how they were triple cooked, we were told first steamed, then twice fried. Yum! The truffle aioli and parmesan topped it off really well.

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Despite getting pretty full, we couldn’t pass up on the opportunity for dessert. Especially when the option of Jasmine tea crĂšme brĂ»lĂ©e with spiced lychees (gf) $16.00 doesn’t leave your brain. A nice generous portion served in a tea cup, how appropriate! The delicate jasmine flavour came through really nicely and the dessert was not overly sweet. The lychees were indeed spiced and an added treat!

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The other creme brulee flavour that night was tonka bean, which sounded very intriguing as we have never tasted that flavour before – described to us as somewhat similar to burnt caramel. We’ll definitely have to try it next time!

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We thoroughly enjoyed our evening at Baguette. Not only were the atmosphere and service great, the food was spectacular. We tried a variety of dishes, each one offering unique flavours and textures. Special thanks to Ricky for his sense of humour and service throughout our meal! We’d definitely recommend a visit to Baguette Bistrot & Bar, especially for a special occasion or romantic night out – albeit on the pricier side at regular price! 🙂

Baguette Bistrot + Bar on Urbanspoon

Thanksgiving brunch

October 11, 2014

A tradition since moving to Australia, Mario hosted the Canadian Thanksgiving meal yet again this year. Interestingly, most attendees were Australian but who can resist a get together that revolves around delicious food and over indulgence?

The Canadian crew with Mario, Stacy, Yoni and Mike

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Selfies!

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Some of the food spread:

Tender and fragrant roasted leg of lamb with creme fraiche, courtesy of Mario

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Butternut squash soup and chicken pesto salad from Mike and I

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Yoni made savoury beef filled crepes

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The rest of the food including: scalloped potatoes, pumpkin, beet and quinoa salad, mini quiches, and tacos. There was an array of desserts including sticky date pudding, pumpkin pie, and chocolate cake.

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Didn’t take too many photos of food or people but good meal nonetheless! Likely our last Thanksgiving meal at Mario’s since we will be moving away in January. Happy to have held on a small aspect of home but it has never been the same celebrating Thanksgiving without family (and a stuffed turkey).

Catching up with friends at Bread & Meat Co

October 10, 2014

After months of hearing about not only the amazing sandwiches served at Bread & Meat Co, but the fact that they served Canadian poutine, Michael and I were super excited to suggest a visit to this eatery for a catch up with our friends.

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We were told that most of their sales occur by early afternoon and were pleasantly surprised to find the place not packed with seating available on a Friday evening.

Bright and rustic, loved that everything was on display and open to our viewing.

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With the 5 of us, we made sure to try all 3 regular sandwiches as well as their weekly special.

Beef Brisket Dip – 36 hour roasted beef brisket topped with Swiss cheese, horseradish aioli, and a side of jus for dipping ($9.50). Packed to the brim with brisket and perfect with the jus, it’s easy to see why this is a favourite among customers.

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Corned Beef Sandwich – New York style corned beef with gherkin aioli, topped with poached cabbage and a side of spicy dijon mustard ($8.50). A tad on the salty side but goes well with the dijon mustard! Those who ordered this sandwich thought pickled cabbage or sauerkraut would make a better condiment in flavour and texture over poached cabbage.

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BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich – Smoked pulled porked with a BBQ hickory sauce, topped with fresh coleslaw on 2 toasted brioche slider buns ($8.50). This was my order, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The pork melts in your mouth, good crunch from the coleslaw and the brioche held together nicely. I did, however, find the BBQ sauce a bit too sweet and overpowering the smokiness of the pork.

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Xuan and Alexis

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Lastly, the weekly special Porchetta – Juicy pork loin with an herb stuffing, crispy crackling, topped with a salsa verde on a warm ciabatta roll ($9.50). Porchetta is something I learned for the first time tonight and it was true to its name – fatty and moist, boneless pork roast.

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Cool salt and pepper shakers

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And of course, how could we pass up the opportunity for a taste from home – Canadian Poutine with golden fries, fresh curd cheese smothered in hot gravy ($6). The good news is, the gravy was well seasoned and not crazy salty as some of our friends who’ve already visited warned us. The sad news is, this is not real poutine. The salty, squeaky cheese curds of real Canadian poutine is irreplaceable. And unfortunately, the chopped up bocconcini served at Bread & Meat Co is an admirable replacement, but simply not good enough.

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We wouldn’t order the poutine again. Instead, we look forward to trying their Sweet Potato Parm Fries ($6) or their Chili Cheese Fries ($7) next time.

The sandwiches were all delicious and massively filling. Look forward to visiting again and would definitely recommend to our friends. They even offer free weekday lunch delivery in the CBD for orders more than $18, how awesome is that?

Good to see you guys!

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Catch up soon Sarah!

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Bread & Meat Co on Urbanspoon

A quick return to Stradbroke Island

October 6, 2014

On March 12th of this year, Michael proposed to me during a wonderful vacation on Stradbroke Island. One of our favourite places turned into a very special place that day, and we will always look forward to the opportunity for a visit.

With beautiful forecasted weather, we took advantage of the Labour Day long weekend to spend a day on the island.

Started our day sharing a delicious breakfast at Tillers Cafe Pantry, a restaurant attached to Allure Resort, where we stayed back in March. The last time we were here, it was our first meal out as an engaged couple and my first time wearing my ring in public. I remember not being able to help but continuously glance down at my ring, as it was so sparkly in the natural light 😛

We enjoyed Whole dressed avocado served with sourdough bread, grilled haloumi cheese, lime & dressing of olive oil and balsamic ($12), which was just as delicious as last visit!

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We also shared a slice of berry white chocolate cheese cake accompanied with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream. The cake had really good texture with interesting crunchiness from white chocolate within the cheesecake.

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We strolled along the beaches after breakfast, even coming across this sand mermaid who has seen better days

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Blue skies, sunshine, warm sand for lounging and refreshing ocean swims! Love him 🙂

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Coming up to high tide by the time we passed Deadman’s Beach and headed into Frenchman’s Beach, but here is where he proposed! At the tall boulder just slipping out of the sun… 🙂

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A perfect day, Stradbroke Island will always be one of my favourites places ❀

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Breakfast at Cafe Auchenflower

October 5, 2014

After months of being away, we finally caught up with James and Kim over breakfast at Cafe Auchenflower.

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With a cute and homely atmosphere, Cafe Auchenflower invites you in with friendly service and a steady stream of customers.

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A small menu that offers both sweet and savoury items, something for everyone.

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We started off with drinks, including a nice flat white, freshly brewed tea and iced coffee with ice cream

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I ordered an iced chocolate, which was a little disappointing. Simply milk with chocolate syrup, not overly cold and certainly not iced.

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James and Kim decided on poached eggs on sourdough bread ($13) with a couple of sides, each around $3 (avocado, fritters, bacon).

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Michael couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pass up Benedict Eggs on toasted sourdough with bacon ($17).

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Everyone received consistent beautifully poached eggs and quite enjoyed their breakfast.

I ordered the Breaky Wrap with bacon, egg, greens, corn salsa & chipotle mayo ($17). Grilled to perfection with a generous amount of greens and bacon, although eggs a little overcooked.

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And don’t forget to check out the cabinet on your way out, tasty treats to pick up!

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A lovely breakfast with great company! However, despite a good visit and food, Michael and I did find the menu overpriced and won’t be too hasty to return.

Cafe Auchenflower on Urbanspoon

2014 Korean Cultural Festival in Brisbane

October 4, 2014

By complete chance, Mike and I passed through King George Square before heading to the cinemas to watch Guardians of the Galaxy. As a result, we stumbled upon the 2014 Korean Cultural Festival while it was in full swing.

Numerous stalls lined the square, many offering different Korean street foods, which pulled us in immediately.

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We started off with two kinds of vegetarian dumplings ($5) – yum!

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The stall we found most enticing, Korean hot dogs! For $2 each, we had delicious battered and deep fried hot dogs with a sprinkle of sugar and tomato sauce…

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Yum!

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Delicious Soboru Pan ($2, Korean peanut butter crumbled bread) – which was moist and delicious! Reminded me of a pineapple bun with a more decadent topping.

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I’m not a fan of red bean, but Mike loved this donut with red bean filling ($2)!

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We were also invited inside the City Hall’s main auditorium for a variety of performances including traditional music and dance. Unfortunately, we had a movie to catch!

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What an unexpected and pleasant surprise! 🙂

A day in Singapore

September 20, 2014

We landed in Singapore around 1pm. After a huge waste of time with Scoot (which may be discussed in a later post), including a 1 hour delay, we finally made it out into the city!

We first strolled through Little India, enjoying the sights and smells, finally stopping at Mustafa Centre to exchange money. Then we headed over to Chinatown, enjoying a quick lunch of BBQ pork and char siu with rice at Chinatown Food Street (CFS). This was the first time we came across CFS, here’s a little blurb from YourSingapore:

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Located on Smith Street in the heart of Chinatown, the revitalised CFS seeks to create the most authentic Singapore dining experience for locals and tourists alike. From a tantalising plate of Char Kway Teow, to sticks of mouthwatering Satay, CFS offers a diverse spread of local delights, with iconic food from local cultures all represented on one street.

With street hawker stalls, shophouse restaurants and ad hoc street kiosks, complete with the al-fresco dining style along the street, one can revisit the Chinatown of old at CFS. Newly constructed high-ceiling glass canopy shelter and internal spot cooling system allow diners to indulge in culinary pleasures regardless of rain or shine. Now fully pedestrianised, visitors can dine in comfort along Smith Street from day to night.

If you are ever in the area, HERE’S a good article with 10 food stalls to check out!

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We had to have a quick lunch before we needed to be on our way to a very important appointment – our first ‘real life escape game’ at BreakOut! Since last year, BreakOut materialized and landed the #2 ranking on the Trip Advisor list of attractions in Singapore. With nearly a 5 star rating after over 130 reviews, how could we pass it up?

What is BreakOut? Here’s a description from their website:

BreakOut Escape Game is a Real Life Escape Game provider in Singapore, offering themed escape rooms to players who enjoy the challenge of playing escape games in a physical environment. Real Life Escape Game is the latest global phenomenon that has taken the gaming world by storm, with more and more players experiencing the simple thrills of escaping from beautifully designed escape rooms.

Taking on the role of the main characters in the story, you and your teammates have to work together to find clues, solve puzzles and navigate yourself out of a locked room that you are trapped in, while beating the clock!

BreakOut has 3 themed escape rooms of varying difficulty – Forever Young(4.5*).,The Scientist(4*) and Magician’s Secret (5*). We cater to both newcomers and seasoned gamers.

Each session is 1 hour long. We booked our visit for 2:30pm and chose ‘The Scientist’ room to break out of, apparently the easiest of 3 rooms:

An eccentric but genius scientist has discovered a miraculous cure to any form of cancer – it is rumoured to be a previously unknown species of the mushroom family. Its wondrous properties are worth a fortune, and you and your accomplices have broken into his laboratory to steal his discovery. Unfortunately the paranoid scientist has booby trapped the room and you are trapped in his laboratory. Can you escape before the police arrive?

BreakOut is extremely easy to find and on the second floor of the building. We were greeted by staff as we were climbing up the stairs, “Sandra? Welcome! Come on in!”

We were asked if we’d ever played such a game before, either in real life or virtually. We hadn’t. We were given a quick run down and then taken into our room. The rules of the game were explained, including how to immediately stop the game and leave the room if required. We were reminded that unless there was striped tape around objects, they were a part of the game. Keep our eyes and ears open, be observant, use our brains and enjoy the game!

And then the staff was gone, we were left in our room, and the timer started to count down. Suspenseful music played continuously as we frantically tried to figure out how to get out of the room. We soon realized why the recommended number of players is 4-8 people, as opposed to two! The more people in the room working with you, the more fun and successful you’ll be.

We really did try. But maybe it was the jetlag and not sleeping for over a day, but we got stuck a number of times. We felt a little embarrassed but no worries! You are constantly being video monitored and if the staff find you aren’t progressing quick enough, someone will politely knock, come in and offer a vague clue to help you get back on track.

Unfortunately, we failed to break out of the room within the hour 😩 However, because no one had booked the room after us, we were allowed a few extra minutes to complete the game.

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A super fun and exhilarating experience! It is very clear that the rooms and situations have been thought out and well prepared. An hour of adrenaline rushing through your body as you race against the clock. 😉 Highly recommend a visit to BreakOut if you’re in Singapore! We will definitely be coming back to try the other 2 rooms the next time we are in Singapore. 🙂 Thanks to the staff for their great service and not openly laughing at us! 😛 We look forward to visiting again.

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After BreakOut, we walked around Chinatown some more, stopping at Koi Kei Bakery – the famous Macau name, renowned for their perfectly crispy-crumble-in-your-mouth almond cookie.

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Stepping into the shop can be a little overwhelming because there are so many options available. Luckily, the staff is there to help you out 😛 We were greeted as we stepped into the shop and given a few minutes to look around before being offered samples. Lots of samples. I think you could have a never ending taste of cookies if you wanted. We started off with the most popular cookie – the almond cookie. She gave us a sample of both the hand made and machine made almond cookies – you could definitely taste the difference in texture!

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Despite its popularity, we ended up not getting any almond cookies. Instead, we purchased a box of almond pastry. Superbly flaky and buttery while not too sweet. Yum!

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We continued our short day in Singapore with a steady stream of food. Including our first taste of Kaya Toast, a popular Singapore and Malaysian snack. Kaya is a coconut jam, often served on buttered toast with pandan, sugar and/or condensed milk. A sweet treat!

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For dinner, we foolishly thought we would be able to dine in at Swee Choon Dim Sum Restaurant, one of our favourite places. Boy, were we wrong. Dinner time meant huge lines. No time to wait. Good thing we could take out! We grabbed a few of our favourite dishes including: egg tarts, steamed salted egg yolk custard buns, and red bean paste pancake. So delicious, just as we remembered, and can’t wait to be back!

Unfortunately, our time in Singapore had to come to an end and we headed back to the airport…. where we finally had the opportunity to shower for the first time in 2 days.

See you again in December Singapore!

Tasty dim sum at Michelin starred restaurant Tim Ho Wan

We landed in Hong Kong from Canada at 5:00pm on September 19, 2014.

We had one single goal during our layover in Hong Kong – to enjoy delicious dim sum at Tim Ho Wan, famous being awarded a Michelin star in 2011 (Sham Shui Po location). It had been over a year since we’ve heard of this renowned, posisbly cheapest, Michelin starred restaurant in the world. We had been looking forward to this meal for months and anything else we had time for would be icing on the cake.

Tim Ho Wan was founded by Chef Mak Pui Gor, previous dim sum master at Lung King Heen in Four Seasons Hotel, the world’s first Chinese restaurant to be awarded a Michelin 3 star rating. What began as a small, humble, 30-seat eatery in Mongkok (this location has since closed) has now expanded to 4 other locations in HK, as well as into other Asian countries like Singapore and the Philippines.

We decided to visit the IFC Mall location, as it was most convenient. For those who are interested, the Airport Express train costs $100 HKD (less than $15 CAD) return and stops at Hong Kong Station, just below IFC Mall. Head up the escalator to Level 1 and turn left, you won’t miss the long queues. There is no sign that says “Tim Ho Wan” so familiarize yourself with their green logo and characters ahead of time so you don’t miss it!

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The other thing you need to prepare yourself for is how to get a table. It can be a little intimidating but don’t worry, it’s quite easy! Most people standing around have already registered themselves for a table and are waiting for their number to be called. So when you arrive, you need to push yourself to the front where you will likely be greeted by a busy, yet very efficient lady. Tell her how many people you have and ask for a yellow menu if you’re not automatically offered one, which is in English. You will be identified as a foreigner and a marking will be added beside your table number on her list so that when your number is called, it will be done so in English. As it gets closer to your number, I suggest standing near the front so you don’t miss your number when it’s called.

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If it’s a busy time, be prepared to wait! And keep in mind that numbers are not called out sequentially but according to how many people can be seated. Ie. A group of 2 will likely be seated before a group of 6.

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While in line, you should definitely start ticking off all the items you want off the menu. As your table number is approaching, you can give your menu in advance to the lady at the front. That way, your food will come as soon as you sit down. We gave our menu to her as we were being seated and didn’t have to wait long at all, so it’s really not necessary!

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We waited around 30-40 minutes before finally being seated. The restaurant is small and packed tightly. We sat in between 2 other groups on either side and felt packed like sardines but such is the experience of eating dim sum in Asia right? Pretty excited to start our highly anticipated meal!

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Place settings with their most popular dishes as well as a listing of their HK locations.

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Chuckled a bit. I know, we decided not to have tea with our dim sum, blasphemy! 😛

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Deep fried dumplings filled with pork ($15, 3pcs). Our first dish, which immediately left a good first impression. Fried dumplings are one of my favourite dim sum dishes, and these ones were perfect. Cripsy on the outside, fully cooked inside, nice and glutinous with a well seasoned, not too fatty pork filling. Yum!

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Panfried turnip cake ($15, 3pcs). Mike and I have tried different variations of this dish over the past few years. We have never been the biggest fans of this dish but being one of the “Big 4 Heavenly King Dim Sum from Tim Ho Wan,” we certainly had to try! We quite enjoyed the silky daikon flavour and beautiful sear of this cake.

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Steamed fresh shrimp dumplings ($27, 4 pcs). Delicate, translucent skins with nicely seasoned fresh, plump and succulent prawns – these were great.

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Steamed pork dumplings with shrimp ($27, 4 pcs). As you can see, these siu mai lacked the finesse of assembly, but were overall tasty.

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Steamed rice rolls stuffed with shrimp and chive ($27, 3 rolls) and Steamed rice rolls stuffed with BBQ pork ($21, 3 rolls). Both of us always enjoy this dim sum dish, but these rice rolls were too thick and the wrong texture, they should be delicate and slightly chewy. In addition, the proportion of filling to rice roll was too low 😩 The biggest disappointment of our meal.

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Baked bun with BBQ pork ($21, 3 pcs). La piĂšce de resistance! The reason why we came to Tim Ho Wan lies in these 3 sublime golden buns. Oven baked with a crispy sweet topping, this is the perfect love child of a pineapple bun and a BBQ pork bun. A delicious combination between salty and sweet. These were perfection and easily the highlight of our night! If we weren’t so full, we would’ve ordered more. After one bite, there was no doubt how these buns came to be Tim Ho Wan’s most famous dish.

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Tonic medlar & petal cake ($12, 3 pcs). This beautiful dessert jelly had subtle sweetness and was quite fragrant, filled with goji berries and osmanthus flowers. A very light and refreshing way to end our delicious meal!

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We had also ordered Steamed Egg Cake ($15) which unfortunately wasn’t available. Other dishes I would’ve liked to try on this menu include: Glutinous rice dumpling, Braised chicken feet with abalone sauce, Steamed rice rolls stuffed with pig’s liver, Sweet barley soup with bean curd sheet, Sweet pumpkin cream with red bean. Unfortunately, there were only 2 of us. We couldn’t possibly eat more and Michael is also not a fan of liver and chicken feet. It is also our understanding that some Tim Ho Wan locations may have dishes that are not available at others.

Aside from the rice rolls dishes, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal and look forward to the opportunity of dining again at Tim Ho Wan, likely at a Singapore location in the near future! The dishes were high in quality and lived up to our expectations. We left happy and with full bellies.

Is it the best dim sum in the world? Probably not, but still darn tasty! Was it worth our 30-40 minute wait? I think so, even if just for those BBQ pork buns and the experience. With that being said, I would definitely go during down time at my next visit so I won’t have to wait in line as long! 😛

Our total bill came to around $180 HKD, which is approximately $25 CAD, what a steal! Keep in mind that there is a $3 service charge for each dine in customer. They also have take out available, which is much quicker if you want to grab a bite to eat on the go or don’t want to wait in line.

Have you tried Tim Ho Wan before? Would love to hear what you think!

Hong Kong locations:

  • Shop 12A, Hong Kong Station Podium Level 1, IFC Mall , Central
  • Shop 72, G/F, Olympian City 2, 18 Hoi Ting Road, Tai Kok Tsui
  • G/F, 9-11 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po
  • Shop B, C, D on G/F Seaview building No 2-8 Wharf Road, North Point

AC Premium Economy YVR-HK

September 18, 2014

It wasn’t long at home in Ottawa after our electives in Nova Scotia until we had to go back to Brisbane.

One on hand, I was tired of living out of a suitcase these last 2 months and excited to get settled back into our house with Mike. On the other hand, I wanted to stay in Canada longer with my family and friends!

We had an early 7:45am flight – thank you to my mom, brother and Uncle 3 for taking us (and all our luggage) to the airport!

Last selfie in Ottawa… I really don’t know when we’ll be back 😩

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We usually book our international flights out of Canada with Air Canada, for their prices and good service. While looking into our flight back to Brisbane, Michael came across Air Canada’s Premium Economy Class, which at the time, cost approximately $100 more than a regular economy class ticket. A section in between business class and economy class, sounded appealing!

After a bit of research, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to fly Premium Economy at such a low additional cost. You can read more about it HERE, but these are some of the perks we appreciated with Premium Economy class:

  • Wider seats, more recline, more legroom
  • Larger entertainment screen
  • 2 checked bags
  • Hot towel service and premium meals served on china dishware
  • Amenity kit
  • Earn 125% Aeroplan Miles
  • Best of all: priority check in, boarding and baggage handling

There are currently only a few selected routes that offer Premium Economy, including Montreal to Paris and Vancouver to London. We chose to fly Vancouver to Hong Kong.

Although we bought a Premium Economy ticket from Ottawa to Hong Kong, that class was (as expected) not available on our flight from Ottawa to Vancouver. Instead, we were given preferred seats (extra leg room, close to front) with a complimentary meal. We were also able to enjoy all the priority services with this leg of the flight – which to us, is one of the best parts of traveling.

Vancouver to Hong Kong was much more exciting 😛

Flight AC007 on a 77W
Seats 14A & 14B
Depart Vancouver 13:00 Sept 18
Arrive Hong Kong 17:05 Sept 19
Flight time: Approx 11.5 hrs

Here is what the cabin looked like. Surprisingly, it was practically empty, there must’ve been around 10 of us in total.

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The seats, as you can see, are wider (50.8cm) with more leg room (7″)

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Felt quite spacious!

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Larger screens at 26.4cm/10.4in

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Settled in and ready for a long flight!

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Our welcome beverage of orange juice – no other choices were offered.

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Our flight menu, handed out at the beginning of our flight along with newspapers

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Our amenity kit. Had the essentials (toothbrush/toothpaste, eye mask, ear plugs, and socks) although not nearly as nice as the ones given in Business/First class 😉

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Our first meal of green salad with balsamic olive oil dressing. Grilled Alberta AAA beef tenderloin with morel mushroom sauce, red skin mashed potatoes with roasted garlic, broccolini, zucchini and carrots. Bread and butter. Cappuccino cake. The salad was fresh and crisp although I’ve had much better bread. Beef was well done and bland, however, the meal was overall good, especially because the dessert was quite nice.

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Wine was good too!

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We did not realize that only one meal was premium. For our next meal, it was the same as served in Economy class. A choice between Shanghai noodles with chicken or Beef stroganoff with mushroom cream sauce and rotini pasta, with bread and a fruit salad. Meal was so so!

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Prior to landing, we were also served a snack of chicken salad sandwich and Peak Freans cookies.

Despite the cabin being nearly empty, we found the service to run the extremes – either super rushed or insanely slow. For example, flight attendants flew around the cabin to give us menus and amenity kits and just as quickly zipped away. Later during the flight, when we pushed the call button, we were actually never attended to – which has never happened to us, ever, on any flight. I had garbage leftover from a meal that was never collected and I wanted to get rid of it so I could stow away my table while Mike wanted a drink. During our 15+ minute wait, we rang the bell 3 times, in case they didn’t hear us or was busy at the time and forgot. Eventually, we were able to flag an attendant who appeared but disregarded our call light. Service was particularly disappointing, as it was way below the average service we’ve received in Economy class.

Some of the advertised perks of Premium Economy are not unique, such as power outlets/USB ports and complimentary wine & spirits, and pillow/blanket (did not receive a ‘large’ pillow like advertised) which are also available for Economy Class passengers.

Overall, we definitely enjoyed the flight and the perks that came with it, especially priority services, extra baggage, extra seat and leg room, and better food. Would we purchase a Premium Economy class ticket again? Yes, certainly if the price difference was as small as this time!

 

 

Mike & Meaghan’s birthday!

September 15, 2014

After a fiasco with booking our bus tickets to Kingston, we had to resort to asking Mike’s dad to drive up to Ottawa and get us. Thank goodness for him!

Today was a special family day, an early joint birthday celebration for Michael and and his sister Meaghan! Mike was turning 35 on Sept 21st and the first time he’s been home to celebrate with his family in over a decade. And Meaghan was turning the big 30 on Sept 26th.

Got to spend some quality time with the family, including Mike’s parents (Greg & Caroline), his brother Matt with his wife Jessice and 2 children, Jasper and RInoa, Aunt Patsy & Uncle Dan, as well as Uncle Jim & Aunt Brenda 🙂

Started off the day with a delicious lunch, thanks Matt – you make awesome grilled cheese! My mom sent a coconut lemon poppy seed cake that was fantastic and a hit with the family as well.

For dinner, Mike’s mum made meatballs, beans, caesar salad, and biscuits from Aunt Patsy – yum!

After dinner came the cake and singing! Caroline made 2 cakes, chocolate for Mike and vanilla for Meaghan.

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The vanilla cake provided lots of good laughs! It was supposed to be a lady bug 😉 … a pretty cute one!

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Look at that smile!

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Happy early birthday guys! 🙂

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Great to catch up!

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Aunt Brenda & Uncle Jim

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The birthday siblings

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With Uncle Jim

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The cute nephew, Jasper!

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Uncle Dan & Aunt Patsy – see you soon in Australia!

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Mike’s dad and his youngest grandchild 🙂

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Jasper excited for cake!

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Matt and his son Jasper. Cake and ice cream, what better way to end the night?

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And finally, some family photos!

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My last opportunity to spend time with Mike’s family 😩 Thank you for having me and can’t wait until we see you again in Australia!

Good food and dressing well

September 13, 2014

An early flight back to Ottawa from Halifax, thanks Matt for driving us to the airport! We can’t wait to see your family in Adelaide next year!

We got back to my house around 11am and went to lunch with Ruixi and Chris! Similar to last year, we were all craving Perkins, so breakfast for lunch was perfect! It was so nice to see them and catch up, especially since so much has happened since we hung out with them at Perkins last year, including a wedding and honeymoon! 😉

When my mom got home from work that evening, we ordered Shawarma Palace (of course) and joined my grandparents for dinner.

Shawarma chicken and beef platters… how I miss you!

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My mum and grandpa

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Family minus Jenni!

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Enjoying some Jost Maple Ice Wine, thanks Dan! He and Mike had a sports bet and he lost. The prize? A nice Canadian bottle of ice wine, which we shared with family 🙂

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Chicken, beef, rice, potatoes, garlic sauce, pickles, hummus, bread, salad… mmm

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My lovely grandparents!

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Always fun having dinner with my grandparents 🙂

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Some of you might know or remember that I’ve kept a coin collection since I was young. A very amateur collection, spurred by the release of the 1999 Millenium coins. Even now, my grandma will save new/different/fancy coins she comes across for me to riffle through and pick ones to save.

Here’s the collection of quarters she’s kept for me! Just going through them to see which ones I don’t have and can add to my collection, thanks grandma!

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My brother makes the best faces and takes the best selfies!

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September 14, 2014

The following day, my brother, Mike and I went on an ambitious adventure. Andy was going to photograph some engagement photos for us. He had a few sites picked out to visit and we had lots of fun, although I can’t say many of the photos turned out 😛 But when they’re ready I’ll share!

One fun aspect, we got to dress up a bit! My mom and aunt were going to come along as well, but unfortunately she had a prior engagement so mum and I took a few photos together at home instead 🙂

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Can you tell what we did on our photo shoot? 😛 So serious!

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Check out my brother, the “pro”

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Two hands mama!

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And what did we finish the day with?

Delicious home made Phở TĂĄi (Vietnamese noodle soup with beef cooked rare) before addition of herbs and garnishes, thank mum!

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And of course, who can forget Benny! So cute, but he’s so camera shy!

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Only $1, what a deal! I missed having these, brought back memories from childhood 🙂

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Blackberries at Point Pleasant Park

September 07, 2014

This should’ve been talked about a few posts back, oops!

The evening of our Food Truck Adventure Day, we decided to go for a nice stroll in Point Pleasant Park. 

Our biggest surprise, blackberries. Blackberries everywhere! Bushes with huge, ripe, sweet blackberries at every turn. Even though we were completely stuffed from our food truck adventure, we ate so many blackberries, it was ridiculous.

We walked around with a never ending palm-ful of blackberries because… looks how many are around! 😛

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Even the park animals were enjoying them!

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After eating our weight in blackberries, we spent 5 minutes picking some to take home for Laura and Isabelle. Look how many we picked in such a short period of time!

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Although distracted, we eventually made it to the tip of Point Pleasant Park while the sun was still up! This is looking out at the mouth of Halifax Harbour – you can see McNabs Island in the distance…. and the moon, and a cargo ship.

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Lots of smooth rocks on the shore for stone skipping!

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(We are such losers, I couldn’t remember the word ‘shore’ and asked Mike what is the area between land and water for this photo called. He answered, quite seriously, “the rock carpet.” I had to look up synonyms for the word ‘beach’ to enlighten myself. Early morning brain fart for the both of us!)

I love him 🙂

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Post exam dinner at Agricola Street Brasserie

September 11, 2014

Ecstatic to have completed our Medical Specialties exam, we were looking forward to a nice dinner with friends. A highly anticipated visit to Agricola Street Brasserie – finally! We were joined for dinner by Laura, Matt and their daughter Isabelle, as well as Ian & Sarah. 🙂

I have to apologize that we didn’t take many photos, too busy enjoying the food and everyone’s company!

You are immediately invited into the restaurant by the great atmosphere and friendly waitstaff. High ceilings, very rustic (yet classy) looking with mood lighting.

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We all enjoyed a cocktail to start, great choices available, although I can’t remember what we ordered now! Once our dinner orders in, some nice house bread and whipped butter were brought to the table. The butter was presented in cute mini jam jars, a cute touch!

We ordered a few appetizers to share, including a cheese plate with local and imported cheeses ($14). The cheese variety (can’t remember, sorry!) was interesting and tasty, served with bread, crisps and mango chutney. I think most of us enjoyed the blue cheese most, which was unexpected! With the amount of cheese on the plate, it could’ve definitely used more crisps or bread, although I’m sure it wouldn’t have been a problem if we had asked for more.

Mike and I picked out 2 dishes to try and share with everyone. The first was Classic Beef Tartare ($15). I quite liked the presentation of this dish, mainly because of the egg yolk in a half shell you pour over the beef yourself. Simple, but nice touch! The tartare was nicely seasoned accompanied perfectly with the dijon mustard and served with grilled bread – yum!

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The other appetizer we chose was Snails & Mushrooms, Garlic & Parsley Butter, Almond & Thyme Tartine ($13). This dish was fantastic! Heaping amounts of really tasty large snails and mushrooms atop 3 slices of bread. The bread soaked up all the juices, making sure we didn’t lose any of the delicious flavours! Unfortunately, only one other person at the table, aside from Mike and I, tried this dish with us. The others missed out!

The appetizer portions were a great value for the price. Unlike numerous other restaurants we’ve visited, these appetizers could easily be enjoyed between a group of 6 people!

For mains, Michael chose the Thai Sausage, Stir Fried Brussel Sprouts, Thai Chilies, Cilantro ($19). Really tasty dish with a lovely fragrant and texture to the sausage. However, we both felt that it could’ve used a small portion of seasoned rice or other form of carb to balance out the taste and look of this dish.

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Ian and myself chose the Basmati Rice & Chick Pea Salad, Vegetables & Herbs, Ginger, Lime, Olive Oil ($14). Flavours, delicious. I loved the crispness of the fried chick peas, they added really good texture to the dish. I’m generally not a fan of basmati rice compared to other types but this salad was done well with fresh vegetables and a nice, crisp dressing. The only thing about this dish that I didn’t enjoy? Too many hot chilies for my palate, I had to pick out quite a few!

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Other mains ordered at our table include the Roasted Halibut, Sweet Pea Puréeé, Mussel Butter, Pea & Brocoli ($27) which was thoroughly enjoyed with no complaints.

Another was the Seared Scallops, Cauliflower three ways, Bacon, Apple & Thyme ($25), which was unfortunately a disappointment. The scallops did not have a beautiful golden sear on them and the vegetables, especially cauliflower three ways, was too lacking. Compared to the serving size of other dishes, including appetizers, this one was tiny. Visually and conceptually, I think this dish needs to be rethought.

At one point during our dinner, the restaurant manager, Peter Goneau, stopped by our table to say hello and see how the evening was going. Mike and I always appreciate when staff go the extra mile to check in on their customers!

Everybody enjoyed desserts, some of which are not listed on the current menu. Matt had ordered a creme brulee while Laura enjoyed a sundae. Ian and Sarah enjoyed a chocolate pot de creme.

Mike and I shared what we thought would be a strawberry cheesecake. But it turned out to be almost a mix between cheesecake and strawberry shortcake. Mike was so disappointed but I quite liked it!

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At one point during dinner, I took a bathroom break, where I discovered 2 things:

  1. Really cool toilets! Individual private bathrooms with great personality. Love some of the unique touches like the faucets, and the door handles which were crafted from pipes.
  2. The open kitchen, that you can sit and dine at. As this area is tucked away from the main dining room, I had no idea but this would definitely be where I’d want to sit at for my next meal. Enjoying good food while seeing the magic happen in the kitchen, yes please!

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Great ambiance, attentive service, reasonable prices and overall very tasty food – one of my most enjoyable restaurant experiences during my time in Halifax. I’m keen to see what seasonal dishes will be on their menu the next time I visit!

Agricola Street Brasserie on Urbanspoon

One last meal with Bill at Dharma Sushi

Sept 10, 2014

Bill drove Michael up into the city from New Germany as we had our final exam the following day.

Of course, we couldn’t say farewell without a final meal together. We ended up at Dharma Sushi, one of Bill’s favourite Japanese restaurants. Walked into a narrow restaurant with 2 rows of small tables lining the walls, a few occupied by obvious regular patrons – always a good sign!

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Started with some warm sake around the table! Couldn’t celebrate too much, had an exam to study for! 😉

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We shared a couple of appetizers, including a dish of Gyoza (6pcs for $7.95). Thin, crispy, delicate skins enveloping a nicely seasoned meat filling.

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I also chose a 10pc Dharma Diamond specialty roll with crispy avocado, Eel, Salmon, & spicy sauce with golden roe and chives on top ($12.95). Lovely blend of textures and flavours, highly recommend this roll if you’re dining at Dharma Sushi!

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For mains, we all couldn’t pass up the new menu item: Dharma Ramen with shio-kouji (salted rice malt) based broth ($10.95). The ramen was good, but not the best we’ve ever tasted. Bill loved the ramen, however, both Mike and I found the broth needed more flavour. The noodles were excellent, but some fattier slices of pork and a medium boiled egg would’ve certainly added more richness to the dish.

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It was nice to see you Bill, thanks again for everything!

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A great little restaurant offering delicious Japanese cuisine with exceptional quality service, highly recommend! Would love to visit again when I’m back in Halifax to try some of their other dishes!

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Dharma Sushi on Urbanspoon

Halifax Food Truck Adventure Day!

Sept 07, 2014

This was an exciting day as Michael and I had some big plans. We’d heard quite a bit about the food truck scene in Halifax and had ambitious plans of hitting up each of them. Lucky for us, as it was a Sunday, only 5 of them were open – otherwise we may have gone into a food coma 😉 If you’re interested in seeing what food trucks are in Halifax and their times and places of operation, visit Street Food Halifax.


First up, Cheese Gypsy! Actually, we cheated, we visited this truck the day before 😛 CLICK HERE to visit their Facebook page and HERE to read more reviews!

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Limited, but definitely tantalizing menu!

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Great service! Thanks Mike (and Robin) for your friendliness and even offering a sample of plump and sweet local blueberries 🙂

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Due to its seasonal ingredients, we decided on the Blueberry Grilled Cheese Sandwich with fresh blueberries, wild blueberry jam & brie cheese. $8 for the sandwich only or $11 for the combo (served with hand cut fries or homemade soup with a can of pop or water). Rustic tomato soup was appealing, but we couldn’t say no to fries 😛

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Fries were delicious! Easily some of the best food truck fries we’ve had. Perfectly crispy and golden!

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We weren’t wowed by the visual packaging as the sandwich was simply wrapped in tinfoil, but it certainly made up in taste!

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Not greasy at all with a generous amount of gooey melted brie and blueberries – so good! I really wish we had tried more varieties!


Halifax Press – a second grilled cheese food truck, CLICK HERE for more reviews!

After weeks of hearing about Halifax Press serving up delicious grilled cheese near the hospital but too busy with work  to visit – I finally had my chance!

Bright green truck with a distinctive HP logo, you can’t miss it!

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Take a look at the menu

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I ordered The Sou’western ($8) with That Dutchman’s smoked gouda, tex mex jalapeno & corn bacon jam with creamy avocado. The description sounds like there’s too much going on, but all the flavours blended wonderfully together!

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Looks like a hot mess, but dang tasty!

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Mike couldn’t pass up the daily special called Brunch at Bishops ($8) with Foxhill cheddar, smoky bacon, chili frizzled onions & fried egg. One word, yum!

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The presentation was simple, but definitely had an edge over Cheese Gypsy as it displayed the sandwich. Both trucks had delicious sandwiches, Cheese Gypsy offered simpler blends of ingredients while Halifax Press offered more complex options. Definitely inspired us to be more creative with our grilled cheese sandwiches at home in the future!

We also couldn’t pass up the opportunity for homemade cookies – Reese’s pieces chip chocolate – 2 for $1.50!

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Certainly not the best cookie we’ve ever had, but pretty darn good!

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Next up, Halifax Footlongs!

We were surprised not to see a truck, but don’t be fooled by its simplistic set up!

“Finest hand rolled Nova Scotian Sausage and Montreal Hotdogs – Roselane Footlongs, Sweet William Smokies, Montreal Steamies and Veggie Dogs – Farm fresh local condiments & sauces prepared daily weekends at the Halifax Seaport Market.” CLICK HERE for more reviews!

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Jon, the owner, is obviously very passionate about the food he serves. He only cooks the hotdogs and sausages in small batches to ensure they are freshest at serving. As a result, we had to wait a few minutes (a large group of children were ahead of us) for which he apologised a number of times. Really, a few minutes of waiting, especially when you’re being told exactly how many minutes – is no problem!

The exciting part about waiting is looking at and thinking about what sauces and condiments you are going to try – and there are plenty to choose from!

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With a few minutes in between each customer, Jon happily gives you ‘the tour’ of his sauces and condiments, offering suggestions along the way. Interesting sauces include Sweet Horseradish, Scotch Hot Sauce, Southern Gold, and Nova Scotia Peculiar, while toppings consisted of local brine pickles, garlic balsamic tomatoes, and Montreal Poolroom Slaw (which wasn’t available).

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When we received our Roselane Bavarian (snappy Vienna footlong weiner, $5), we were proudly told that it was made with 100% lean pork shoulder, no fillers or additives. It was also mentioned that although served on a bun, many people eat their footlongs on its own without bread and we were welcomed to do so as well 😉

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We ended up keeping it simple with pickles, horseradish and mustard – delicious and allowed the meat to stand out more!

Definitely recommend a visit if you’re by Halifax Seaport Market!


We’d been looking forward to the next stop all day – Ol’ School Donuts! And what made it even more fun? Christine came out to join us!

Started by 17 year old Noah Connolly, Ol’ School Donuts serves delicious piping hot mini old-fashioned donuts out of their bright red short bus. Click HERE and HERE to read more about the business venture.

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You can enjoy your Ol’ School Donuts 3 ways, each $5:

  1. A dozen of one traditional option (plain, sugar, or cinnamon)
  2. 10 donuts of 1 flavour
  3. Split order of 10 donuts with 2 flavours

More importantly, check out the available flavours – how incredible do they sound?

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After a few moments agonizing over the options while waiting in line, 😛 we eventually decided on 2 split orders…

Strawberry Shortcake & Peanut Butter Cup

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Toasted Coconut & Caramel Apple

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The donuts were made to order – crispy on the outside, fluffy and moist on the inside. The toppings were great and much more extravagant with so many more components than we expected, what a nice surprise!


Finally, our last stop of the day, The Battered Fish!

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For a food truck, we found the menu to be quite extensive, perhaps with too many options.

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We like it when appropriate garbage disposals are available to customers!

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Mike got Fish Tacos ($2.75 each) with 7″ flour tortilla stuff with Haddock tips, crisp lettuce, fresh salsa, and their house made white sauce. Although it can certainly look more appetizing, he found them very good!

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I ordered the Fish Burger and Fries ($6.50) Battered Haddock, baby spinach, tomato and signature sauce on a fresh kaiser bun. I also substituted my fries for sweet potato fries. The fish was nice and fresh and their signature sauce was delicious. Unfortunately, that was overshadowed by a cheap, flaky, stale white bun – certainly not a kaiser bun like advertised. Too bad.

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The sweet potato fries were good but a little overdone.

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Christine got Haddock Tips & Fries (Sm $6 or Lg $9), which she thoroughly enjoyed.

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Overall, good food at very reasonable prices. There are also a number of picnic tables to sit at which is great. Try their different sauces! The wasabi is too mild for our liking, but the tartare, curry, and signature sauces are all good. The one disappointment was the quality of my fish burger bun! Would definitely order a bread-less option next time.

The Battered Fish on Urbanspoon

Thanks for joining us Christine! Great seeing you on our Food Truck Adventure!

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A fantastic day filled with great food – love food trucks! And don’t worry, we didn’t eat all day… we interspersed it with some productive shopping 😉

Fantastic dinner at Seoul

Sept 06, 2014

Had the opportunity to visit Dan and Natalie and see their lovely apartment, meet their cute dogs, and catch up!

We then headed over to Seoul for dinner, one of their favourite Korean restaurants. Tucked inside the first floor of a building on Duke St, you could easily walk by without noticing!

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The restaurant was quite empty for dinner time, with only 2 other tables of Korean patrons. Unfortunate, because from the quality of food we had, it should be bustling! Clean with modest decor consisting of mainly wall decals and accent walls.

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We were immediately greeted, shown to a table and given menus.

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Between the 4 of us, we enjoyed 3 different appetizers.

Kimchijeon (Korean kimchi pancake, $6.99) which was crispy on the edges and interspersed with yummy pieces of the fermented cabbage.

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Tteokbokki ($7.99). Chewy rice cakes with slices of fish cake and onions smothered in a thick gochujang (Korean chili paste) based sauce. Served piping hot, adding to the spiciness satisfaction!

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Gunmandu ($9.99 for 10 pcs) – fried dumplings with crispy shells and filled generously with delicious meat!

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Dan and Natalie!

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For mains, Michael and I shared an order of Bibimbap ($14.50) which is a sizzling dish of rice with an assortment of seasoned vegetables, meat, topped with an egg and served in a hot stone pot. One of our favourite Korean dishes and the quality of this one did not disappoint!

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Natalie and Dan ordered Jaeyuk Bokum ($14.50) which was very tasty! Extremely tender, well marinated pork stir fried with kim chi and gochujang, I think this was the best dish of the night 🙂

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The main dishes also came with a bowl of miso soup and side salad – which were simple yet still good.

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The quality of each dish was excellent, coupled with very reasonable prices! The only hiccup during our dinner – we weren’t checked on during our meal and staff weren’t really circulating as the restaurant wasn’t busy. As a result, empty water glasses around the table while eating spicy food! Would be great to have call buttons at each table like we’ve seen in many Korean and Japanese restaurants, or water jugs/bottles left at the table. That way, staff only need to come around when needed and everyone is happy 🙂 Would definitely recommend Seoul for great Korean food!

So lovely to see you guys again! Hopefully next time we’ll be catching up in Ottawa 😉

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Seoul on Urbanspoon

Pizza and Friends

August 31 – Sept 01, 2014

We left camp to head back to New Germany and spend more time with Bill and his family.

On the way back, we were suddenly starving! Our choice: 2 Papa’s Pizza and Donair! Bill spends time at this restaurant learning to make pizza and have heard good things, we were not disappointed!

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Great service, clearly a place locals frequent, and delicious pizza! What did we get? Donair Pizza! Haha 🙂

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With happy bellies, we continued back to Bill and Nina’s!

Greeted by Lily with her cute ladybug back pack and playing in her castle with Bill.

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Saying hello to Bill’s chickens and turkeys

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Bill peach trees!

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Love him!

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Experienced Bill’s cooking! Yummy okonomiyaki (Japanese savoury pancake) for the first time!

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Saw more of their property for the first time. Such a peaceful tranquility to it!

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Thank you for your hospitality (as always) Bill & Nina!

We headed back into the city on Monday (Labour Day, woo hoo!) to visit Dan & Leigh Anne for dinner. I’m sad that I forgot to take a photo with you guys! But Leigh Anne was looking beautiful, although she was tired of being pregnant and ready to be a mom! 😛 Lucky to have such a supportive husband by her side too! It was great to catch up with them and I got to experience chili for the first time – yum! We received a lovely engagement gift from the 2 of them – A journal for me to record everything wedding related and The Everything Groom Book for Michael – thanks guys!

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Camping at Kejimkujik National Park

August 30 – 31, 2014

We spent Friday night at Mike & Christine’s party with good food and surrounded by great company with the chance for me to meet a lot of their friends for the first time.

After a sleep over at their place, we headed off to Kejimkujik National Park Saturday morning for a weekend of camping! We would be camping with Mike, Christine, their daughter Stella, as well as Nathan (Mike’s cousin), his wife Lisa and their daughter Amy.

We hit the road first, as we needed to pick up a few things on the way, including some groceries and a canoe rental. It took about 1.5 hours to reach Keji Park, where we picked up our canoe and drove to Big Dam Lake.

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From the parking lot, we had to carry all our gear and portage (carry over land) our canoe about 600m to the Big Dam Lake. Don’t know how he does it!

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It took a couple of trips and some muscle use, but we made it to the dock, loaded up our canoe and paddled to our campsite.

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The lake was nice and calm 🙂

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Roar!

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My handsome fiance!

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We were the first to reach the campsite around 1:30pm. We had expected Nathan and his family to arrive before us, so assumed they were held up due to responsibilities of having a young child. We set up our tent, organised some belongings and went for a canoe paddle around the lake.

The campsite was completely private with no one else around.There was also an outhouse with toilet paper and chopped wood provided.

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Nearly 5pm, we decided to paddle back to the dock to await the arrival of the two families. We knew with 2 young children, they would have a lot of gear and a 3rd canoe for transport might come in handy. It was perfect timing. As we approached the dock, we could see that they had just arrived and were in the process of transporting their stuff from the car to the dock. We loaded up our canoe with as much stuff as possible and headed back to the campsite first.

Everyone eventually made it! Camp was set up and we had a yummy campfire dinner of pork/sausage and veggies, thanks to Christine!

View of sunset over Big Dam Lake from our campsite

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This is Stella, Mike and Christine’s cute daughter! She is an adventurer, completely fearless and as a result, more accident prone 😉

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Boinking heads with her dad

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Nathan with Mike and Stella in the background

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Cooking bacon over the fire the following morning for breakfast!

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Nathan and Lisa’s daughter, she’s a cutie as well!

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That look of concentration!

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Doing the Itsy Bitsy Spider with dad in the canoe

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Bed hair!

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A mommy daughter moment

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What is camping without a fire?

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Just capturing some moments around the campsite!

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Breakfast!

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More family moments

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Mike and I went for another canoe ride Sunday morning

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Gorgeous!

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Ran into an adult and juvenile loon

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So many mushrooms around the campsite. “Every mushroom you see is a place someone has peed” 😉

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We headed back to camp to for lunch!

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So cute!

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The 2 families would be staying at camp for another night, Mike and I said farewell Sunday afternoon and headed back first! It was lovely to have spent time with them and meeting Nathan and his family! Thanks for taking care of us guys!

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A great camping experience, my first time portaging and canoeing, fun! Hopefully will have the chance for a longer trip in the future!

CLICK HERE to view the complete Keji photo album!

Experiencing my first donair from KoD

For years, I have been told that donairs are amazing and that I must try them. Hailing from Ottawa, I wonder how anything could compare to the glorious shawarma 😛 Well finally, I had the chance to judge for myself!

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Mike and I stopped by King of Donair for my first taste. It was completely empty, despite being the best in Halifax! 😛

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We ordered a regular donair with donair meat, onions, tomatoes, and donair sauce. First impression – certainly does not look appealing, and could use some more veggies! However, it was pretty tasty.

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The donair sauce is sweet (garlic, condensed milk, sugar, vinegar – from what I tasted) and addictive, I can see why it’s unique! However, donair meat is such a mystery… to the point that it looks quite unappealing from a health point of view. I wish I knew exactly what meats/cuts I was eating. Otherwise, although Michael said the quality of these donairs were acceptable, from his years of living in Halifax, I found them tasty and I would definitely have it again!

We also ordered a side of donair egg rolls, which were simply egg rolls stuffed with donair meat, and accompanied by a side of donair sauce. What could possibly go wrong with deep fried goodness? 😛

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Completely different than a shawarma, but I will definitely be missing donairs when I’m back in Brisbane!

King of Donair on Urbanspoon

New Germany with the Gregory Family

August 23 – 24, 2014

Mike and I spent my first weekend in Nova Scotia down in New Germany with Bill and Nina’s family! 🙂 They live on a farm with acres of land, animals and delicious fruits and vegetables.

Our visit in photos!

Nina and their beautiful daughter Lily with her donkey Captain Underpants!

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Visiting the horses

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Their beautiful horses

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Heading over to Uta’s (Nina’s mom) property next door

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Chickens on Uta’s property

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Giving Captain Underpants a brush

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See ya later!

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How adorable is she?

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Lily’s brother Archer – look at that smile!

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Picking blackberries 🙂

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Archer with grandpa (Bill’s dad)

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Kids and grandpa

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Nina designed and Bill built the kids… a three storey castle!

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Bill with Lily in the castle

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Lily helping grandma (Bill’s mom) shuck corn!

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Hauling the corn over to daddy to cook

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Family fun on the trampoline

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Pensive Bill

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Kisses

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Bill’s chickens – almost ready to eat 😉

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And their turkeys

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Daddy and the kids

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Archer loves his apples, and look at those blue eyes!

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Such a smart girl!

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Evening bonfire

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Locating some more blackberries on a walk around their farm

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Gross!

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This furry catepillar was kind of cute

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On Sunday, Mike and I made dinner! Banh Mi (Vietnamese subs) with homemade BBQ pork, garlic mayo and pickled carrots.

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Matt, Laura and their daughter Isabelle came down to join from Halifax! And Uta came over as well 🙂

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Thank you for welcoming me into your home Bill and Nina! It was great to spend time with you and the kids! ❀

Dinner at Brooklyn Warehouse

August 22, 2014

We didn’t think we would be able to get a place at Brooklyn Warehouse on a Friday evening without reservations but luckily, a table for 2 was available outside!

Sheltered, which I always appreciate, especially in the evening! Sorry, didn’t take photos of what the restaurant looked like on the inside.

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Service was great, friendly and attentive without being too pushy. We were quickly offered a drinks menu, which we ordered to start.

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I got the Wasabi Caesars with vodka, shochu, clamato and pickled snow peas. I’d never had anything like that before, it was delicious! However, because it was very spicy and explosive in flavours, don’t do what I did and have it with your meal, it doesn’t pair as nicely as a wine! 😉 Mike got a Boxing Rock Red which he enjoyed.

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The food menu was in the form of chalkboards strategically located around the restaurant, offering a view from wherever you were sitting.

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I chose the NS rabbit carbonara house fettuccine with bacon and herb crumb ($26). The pasta was nicely cooked and rabbit was tender and moist. However, although it might be difficult to gauge from this photo, but the portion was tiny. We found it hard to believe that this was supposed to a main dish, it looked more like an appetizer.

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Mike had the Maple glazed halibut with polenta, thyme, and pickled blueberries ($26). The flavours were great, unfortunately, the halibut was overcooked and as a result quite dry. Similar to mine, this dish was also quite small.

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Brooklyn Warehouse offers a pleasant dining atmosphere with great service and well thought out dishes and drinks. However, although the food is delicious, the servings are too small while being on the pricier side! We hope to leave with bellies more satisfied on our next visit!

The Brooklyn Warehouse on Urbanspoon

Good times in Halifax

Mike gave me a lovely surprise when he picked me up at the airport in Halifax on the evening of August 16th. I was expecting to go back to Matt & Laura’s – where he had been staying and where I would be staying for the month. Instead, he took me to Holiday Inn Habourview for an evening together with just the 2 of us. After weeks of being apart, it was so nice to spend time with just him.  We even went fancy and had McDonald’s for late dinner 😛 Here’s the view from our balcony, from Dartmouth looking over at Halifax.

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The following morning, Matt was kind enough to come and bring us back to his place. Shortly after, while they were out visiting family, Mike and I went for a drink at Lion & Bright on Agricola St.

Loved the atmosphere! High ceilings with communal and private tables, even work stations. On one side, it is a cafe but come evening, it blends perfectly to a wine bar/restaurant.

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We snacked on maple chili popcorn, which was an interesting combination, and enjoyed a glass of red. Unfortunately, they don’t have a drinks menu online and we can’t remember what we had off the top of our head – it was good wine though!

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Unfortunately, the weekend was short lived and Michael soon had to head off for his elective in Bridgewater, leaving me in Halifax. Luckily, I was never truly alone as I stayed with Matt & Laura! 🙂 I definitely worked hard and long hours in hospital during the weekdays, but weekends were always full of fun!

Here are some weekend highlights. Many of them will have their own separate post, so stay tuned!

August 22 – 24

  • Dinner at the Brooklyn Warehouse with my love
  • Spending time with Bill and Nina’s family on their farm in New Germany and even sneaking in some photography! Matt & Laura come down as well, enjoyed a yummy dinner of Banh Mi.

August 29 – Sept 1 (Labour Day long weekend)

  • Had my first donair at King of Donair! According to Mike, the quality was merely acceptable but I could definitely see the appeal! That sweet sauce is pretty addictive!
  • Party at Mike & Christine’s on Friday! Lots to celebrate, but especially Christine soon starting on a new journey in becoming a Registered Nurse! Got to meet so many of their lovely friends and shared so many laughs.
  • Camping on Saturday with Mike, Christine & Stella, as well as Mike’s cousin Nathan, his wife Lisa and their daughter Amy at Kejimkujik Park. My first time experiencing camping with canoes and portaging!
  • Yummy pizza at 2 Papa’s Pizza & Donairs in New Germany on the way back from camping
  • More time with Bill, Nina and the kids! Even got a taste of Bill’s cooking – Okonomiyaki!
  • Visited Dan & Leigh Anne at their home and had a wonderful dinner! My first time having chili (vegetarian), mmm! So happy for the chance to catch up with them, but especially Leigh Anne who was around 38 weeks pregnant and ready to be holding her son in her arms!

Sept 5 – 7

  • BBQ at Matt and Laura’s on Friday, which I almost missed because we were so busy, I didn’t get out of the hospital until 8:30pm 😛
  • Breakfast on Saturday at The Armview with Matt, Isabelle, Ian and his pregnant wife Sarah! Also had the chance to see Al (as he works at the restaurant), which was great!
  • Breakfast was followed by shopping with Mike in Dartmouth! Stocked up on some clinical clothing for good prices!
  • We spent the evening at Dan and Natalie’s, catching up and then went for a delicious Korean dinner at Seoul.
  • Sunday was pretty exciting. We went on a Food truck adventure! That’s code for we just ate, all day. It was spectacular.

Sept 10

  • Bill drove Mike into the city on Wednesday as we had our exam the following day. Couldn’t leave without one last meal together. I have never been a fan of raw oysters (and I’ve tried numerous times). I finally had the first ‘delicious’ oyster at The Five Fishermen! This was followed by Japanese dinner at Dharma Sushi.

Sept 11

  • Finished our Medical Specialties exam Thursday afternoon! It was not as bad as we anticipated, although still awaiting results. We celebrated that evening, dinner at Agricola Street Brasserie with Matt, Laura, Isabelle, Ian and Sarah!

Sept 12

  • Our last night in Halifax. We had a wonderful time with Matt & Laura, Will, Dan (Leigh Anne was resting at home), Mike & Tina, and Ian & Sarah – BBQ, catch ups and a good game of Cards Against Humanity

I had an amazing time in Halifax, thank you for everyone’s time and hospitality! ❀

Catching up over Korean food at Alirang

August 13, 2014

For the second year in a row, I had the chance to catch up with Ruixi during my time back in Ottawa at Alirang, over some delicious Korean food.

Alirang is a little gem on Nelson St across from Loblaws, away from the heavy traffic and the high concentration of restaurants downtown. And, there is parking for those who need it!

It is not a very large restaurant, with tired decor, tacky furnishings, and tables are packed close together. However, don’t let looks fool you. Being greeted by a packed restaurant on a weekday evening tells you this is where you want to be. Service was welcoming and we were seated within minutes of entering the restaurant. Menus were promptly provided as well as their usual warm barley tea.

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My gorgeous date!

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There were lots of yummy items on the menu so it took us a while to decide but we eventually got some delicious topokki ($9.95) to share. Perfectly cooked rice cakes with cabbage and slices of fish cake drowned in hot red chili sauce.

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For mains, I ordered Bulgogi with rice ($13.95) – a gigantic portion of tender, thin and well marinated beef. I had to take home leftovers, but no complaints over that!

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Ruixi ordered the Chicken Soondubu ($10.95) – delicious bubbling hot and spicy stew served with rice!

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The food, as always, was tasty and well prepared, accompanied by consistently good service throughout the night. Would definitely recommend Alirang to anyone wanting some great Korean food!

Alirang on Urbanspoon

Happy 60th Wedding Anniversary to my Grandparents!

On August 16, 2014, our family threw a party to celebrate my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary. It was held in the Winter Room at the St Laurent complex – where we also held my grandpa’s 80th birthday lunch last year.

It wasn’t a surprise event, so my grandparents were able to look forward to celebrating with family and friends. Here is a photo of them arriving at the venue, aren’t they so cute?

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Sitting down to lunch with family and friends

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The grandchildren took care of decor and setting up the venue and each family provided at least a dish for a pot luck feast – so much good food!

Wall decals created and put up by my brother. The huge spread of food!

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My mom made self serve taco salad and ‘Banh Lot’ a Vietnamese pandan flavoured dessert served with syrup and coconut cream.

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Mo Hai made green papaya salad with beef jerky, steam buns and veggie samosas

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Di Nam made fried rice and a veggie platter

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Cau Ba made shrimp spring rolls and pickled green plums

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Cau Tu made fish maw soup

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The uncles chopping up the roasted pig

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My beautiful grandparents!

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Grandma with some of her friends

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My grandpa giving a thank you speech after my Cau Hai’s emotional welcome speech

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My grandparents’ friends giving their congratulatory speeches and gifts

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Some group photos before digging in! Grandparents with their family/friends

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Aww!

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My grandparents with their 5 children

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Children and their spouses

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Family photo!

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Table decor

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Even had some party favours

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Good food and good times with good people!

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Ong Tia Ba Y (my dad’s aunt and uncle) sharing a laugh with my grandparents

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Ah, so cute!

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Cousins photo!

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More recently, the grandchildren try to incorporate something unique with each family get together. For today, we have hats that say “Born ‘X’ years after grandparents’ wedding”

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Oscar selfie in the making

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The result!

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After lunch came more family photos, presents, and cake!

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My present! Painted by a street artist I met in Brisbane

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Big homemade birthday card

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Photo with all the grandchildren minus two!

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And a normal one

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Thank you so much to my grandparents for the opportunity to celebrate this day with them! Wishing them many more years of happiness together and with their family!

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There are SO MANY more photos, especially of my aunts and uncles’ families. Please CLICK HERE to see the full photo album!

Happy birthday mom!

Happy 52nd birthday mom!!

Her actual birthday was August 20th but we celebrated on August 15th 🙂

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Even though we celebrated a few days early, I was really happy our whole family was able to spend her birthday together!

Thanks mum for being our biggest support throughout our entire lives and for always encouraging us to be the best we can be doing whatever it is that would make us happiest. We love you!

My sister ordered a key lime cake with buttercream icing. Beautiful scroll work and sugar flowers – they looked so real!

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Mommy with Benny – her favourite now

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Proper and complete family photo!

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I don’t… know how my brother does it

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I think the best part of this photo is Franklin, the turtle

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My favourite 🙂

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Cutting the cake!

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Haha, I swear, we can normal

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So sweet!

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Franklin wants in too!

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Yum, so much icing!

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Presents and cards for mom!

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Surprise week in Ottawa

Aside from my brother and sister, no one in my family knew I had an additional week in Ottawa from August 9 to 15, 2014. Boy was I excited for an extra week with family and friends!

Thank you to my siblings for picking me up at the airport Saturday morning! My mom was working so she had no idea I was home… 🙂

Got home, showered, and then went over to surprise my grandparents. My grandfather was out, but luckily, I had pre-written up 4 pages (he is deaf, so I communicate via writing) with an update on a number of topics including: getting a job and my elective experience in Nanaimo. My grandma was home so I had the chance to catch up with her and leave my letter for my grandpa and visit later.

Elvin picked me up for… you guessed it, lunch at Shawarma Palace, our favourite. What made it even better? The company 🙂 Thanks Elvin, Jenn, Ruixi, Vinh and Tina for joining me for a delicious lunch! Always so nice to see you guys and catch up.

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At the end of our lunch, my siblings texted to say my mom was done work and they were going to pick her up. Of course, I needed to come too in order to surprise her! Elvin drove me to my mom’s work in order to meet my siblings. But eek! When Elvin turned in, my mom was already standing outside waiting for my siblings. We did a half duck and hoped my mom didn’t notice us. Phew, she didn’t! We ended up turning around and meeting my siblings in a nearby parking lot. I crouched down behind the passenger side and waited for her to notice. She didn’t. I started tickling her, she thought I was my brother even though he was sitting on the opposite side of the car. Finally, I just started laughing and gave myself away. I told her why I was home and how I had to pay an additional $400 for the flight change. Worth it.

Dinner that night? Poutine from Spud’s. A family size ‘Sugar Shack’ – fries, cheese curds, beer gravy, bacon, sausage and maple syrup – delicious!

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Here are some random moments over the week! There are a few special occasions not mentioned here because they will have a post of their own! 😀

Loved getting to spend more time with this guy!

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My sister brought a ton of Asian treats back from Vancouver, including Green Tea Aero chocolate – yum.

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With Asian items always comes Engrish

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Everyone was craving my mom’s famous ‘Banh Mi’ (Vietnamese subs). She made BBQ pork and we had BBQ pork banh mi! So delicious, I think we all had subs for days!

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Enjoyed grape tomatoes, fresh from the garden.

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Mum made coconut sticky rice which was thoroughly enjoyed with sweet ripe mango.

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Wake up guys!

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Can I have some meat with this taco bowl?

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Made blueberry white chocolate scones for the family

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My siblings like to sneak selfies on my cell phone 😛

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But all like to take selfies too right?

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Lunch at Art Is In with the family and Janet! Sorry about the terrible backdrop but you can read more about Art Is In here!

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Yummy, green tea ginger ale

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And buffet lunch another day at Eclipse! My lovely siblings 😉

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I had a very special opportunity with the family this week – shopping for a wedding dress with my mom, sister and brother! Although I can’t say I’ve found THE dress, I have now certainly found THE style of dress. Yay! I was very glad to have shared the experience with my family because I honestly don’t know if I’ll have another chance again, especially being in Australia!

After looking at wedding dresses, we went to get donuts at Suzy Q. Same donut with different toppings, not bad but to be honest, I still prefer Tim Hortons donuts. They could certainly do with a facelift!

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DHAL: July 28, 2014 – My 27th birthday!

Thanks to my lovely sister for spending the past weekend and indulging with me! Unfortunately, it was back to the real world for me and back to Vancouver for her this morning!

On the other hand, happy 27th birthday to me! Gosh, makes me feel old! I spent my birthday in the hospital, working hard and coming home late, just like any other day because no one knew it was my birthday and I felt it unnecessary to share. Despite being alone, I received so much love from family and friends in the form of text messages, phone calls and Facebook messages – many thanks everyone!

Facebook message and photo from my sister

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Received these 2 Pandora beads from my sister. The left one is the Birthday Bloom charm for my birth month. The left is an engagement present and called Forever Entwined. I love them, thanks Jenni!

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Cards from Mike’s parents and my sister (telling me to cheer up)!

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Facebook message and photo from Mike

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Received part 1 of my birthday gift at the airport from Michael. I’ve been wanting a fitbit for a while – it’s a bracelet you wear that helps you track your activity as well as sleep, thanks love! I haven’t started using it yet because I have no one around to discuss it with at the moment. I’m also excited for part 2 of my gift – soon reunited!

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Facebook message and photo from my mum!

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Before I left Ottawa at the beginning of this year, my mum had already given me my birthday gift in advance – this gold heart Pandora charm. Perhaps she forgot about it and that’s why she has another present for me? 😛

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I even came home to a chocolate bar and well wishes from my housemate Lyndsay, thank you! 🙂

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My first birthday spent truly by myself away from family and friends, but I felt the love!

DHAL: July 27, 2014

Had a late start today!

Wasn’t until midday that my sister and I headed out. Today’s plan: Visit Newcastle Island. How? A 10 minute ferry ride that costs only $9 return.

Some sights along our walk to the ferry dock

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Revealed itself during the low tide

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Liked the reflection in the water

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Beautiful day with lots of boats in the water

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Didn’t take long until we got to Newcastle Island!

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A really beautiful island with lots of nice walking trails (approx 8km around the perimeter of the island), areas for picnics and places to swim. Click HERE for more information about the island.

Some photos during our hike!

One of the views off the island

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Christmas colours!

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Jenni’s not so much a big fan of hiking, so got bored a little too quickly

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Hello!

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Crystal tree droppings

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Lots of easy to walk trails

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More water and boats!

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Took a rest by the beach, and a selfie!

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Lots of pretty views

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And lots of people watching 🙂

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You could easily spend the whole day on Newcastle Island, but we had important things to do. Mainly: Buy Nanaimo bars and yummy pastries to eat before the shops closed.

After a few hours, we said farewell and hopped on the ferry back.

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Looking back towards Nanaimo

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From there, we proceeded to Mon Petit Choux Cafe & Bakery to pick up a few goodies for later this evening.

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We then headed back down to the water to enjoy a delicious late lunch/early dinner at Troller’s Fish & Chips. I got halibut and my sister got salmon, it came with fries, coleslaw & tartare sauce. The fish was delightful, such light and crispy batter, went great with the tartare sauce. The fries were good as well, but the coleslaw was so warm! We couldn’t tell if it was because of the temperature, but the coleslaw seemed to have iceberg lettuce in it as well, definitely not as good as it could’ve been.

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We called it an early day after eating and decided to head back to my place. Instead, we decided to watch some of our classic favourite movies: Freaky Friday and White Chicks. Don’t laugh, it was good fun! 😛

Selfie on the way home!

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For dinner (and an early birthday celebration), we had delicious pastries from Mon Petit Choux. Top left is a Marjolaine, originally invented by French chef Fernand Point – combining almond & hazelnut meringue layers with chocolate buttercream. Bottom is an Earl Grey Chocolate Mousse, which lost a bit of its shape in the heat during the walk home but retained all of its deliciousness. And lastly, a berry custard danish – yum! To top all of that off, we also nibbled on a Nanaimo Bar – so rich we couldn’t finish a slice together but certainly yummy!

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A fun weekend hanging out with my sister, a little sad that she will be leaving me tomorrow! 😩

DHAL: July 26, 2014 – My sister visits!

For those who don’t know, my sister is doing a Masters degree in Occupational Therapy at UBC in Vancouver. Friday marked the successful end to her first year and before flying back to Ottawa for the summer, she came to visit me for the weekend.

She arrived by ferry early Saturday afternoon, there she is!

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We ended up walking back to the house from the ferry terminal, which isn’t too bad – about 25 minute leisurely walk with uphill segments.

We spent a few hours catching up, snacking and FaceTiming my mom, brother, and Benny. We even got a complete family photo for the first time in a while 😛

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She brought over some goodies for me, including these (now expired) orange KitKats she had saved, as well as some yummy chocolate from Hawaii, a gift from a friend.

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We didn’t head out until late afternoon. Decided that we would walk along the water and head into downtown. Apparently this weekend was the International World Championship Bathtub Race, part of the 3 day Nanaimo Marine Festival. I never knew such a thing existed and we weren’t sure of the schedule but would be walking by the harbour anyway.

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So the great thing about BC, there are wild blackberries growing everywhere. I can be going any where and always find blackberries to munch on. Mmm

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Some beautiful flowers we passed during our walk

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Looked like a giraffe to us before I zoomed in for the photo 😛

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Here is the iconic statue of former mayor Frank Ney (may be hard to see) beside the bathtub. Known for his role in initiating the bathtub races across the Georgia Strait from Nanaimo to Vancouver.

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There wasn’t much activity going on along the water so we decided to head up to Commercial St, where the Bathtub Days street fair was set up. We had already missed the parade but there was still live entertainment and lots of neat vendors.

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We saw Flaming Donkey and couldn’t resist. Even though we could read, my sister went up to the guy and blurted, “What’s a flaming donkey?!”

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Healthy salsa with no additives, no preservatives and no salt. Not only is the price comparable or cheaper than the local supermarket, but apparently lasts longer in the fridge as well. We like supporting local businesses and bought a salsa + chip back after a taste test of the mild option ($7.50 I think). He had already run out of the spicy salsa.

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To be honest, we didn’t think find the salsa nearly as good as the one our mom makes – mainly due to the lack of salt (which doesn’t require a lot but that’s their motto), but also lack of spices as well as pineapple. We are pretty spoiled when it comes to good food, so this is a really good business venture, but the taste didn’t wow us.

Towards late evening, we decided to have dinner at Sukkho Thai, also on Commercial St. We had delicious Thai food, which I will write about in a separate blog post next. We had some fish cakes to start,  pad thai for my sister and sticky rice with BBQ’d chicken and papaya salad for me. Yummy!

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After dinner we noticed a lot of people heading down to the water, most likely to find a spot to enjoy the festival fireworks later that night. We decided to skip out on the fireworks and head home to relax. Even introduced my sister to some Hamish and Andy’s hilarious Gap Year in South America before calling it a night.