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

IMG_7529

Revealed itself during the low tide

IMG_7535 2

Liked the reflection in the water

IMG_7539 2

Beautiful day with lots of boats in the water

IMG_7545 2

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

IMG_7550

IMG_7553 2

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

IMG_7556 2

Christmas colours!

IMG_7559

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

IMG_7560 2

Hello!

IMG_7561

Crystal tree droppings

IMG_7569

Lots of easy to walk trails

IMG_7571

More water and boats!

IMG_7575

IMG_7576

Took a rest by the beach, and a selfie!

IMG_7560

Lots of pretty views

IMG_1921

IMG_1923

And lots of people watching 🙂

IMG_7578

IMG_7584

IMG_7585

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.

IMG_7587

Looking back towards Nanaimo

IMG_7583

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

IMG_1925

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.

IMG_1926

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!

IMG_7562

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!

IMG_1931

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

Sydney: The Dough Collective

May 04, 2014

I came upon The Dough Collective on George St. by chance while taking a walk and looking for some food/snacks during my short stay in Sydney. I remember checking into my hotel and immediately thinking, “I need to find something delicious to keep me going if I plan to be studying for the rest of the day.”

And if you know me, you know I absolutely love bakeries. Delicious breads and pastries, does anyone not like that?

IMG_1500

A small shop with assorted breads on display typical of a self-serve bakery. I also liked the look of the bread behind glass displays within the walls, added a nice elegant touch. Wish I had taken some photos of the shop but I was trying to get in and out as quick as I could. Also, lots of different samples to try, taste to your heart’s content!

IMG_1498

As I was traveling solo so I couldn’t buy too much… even though I wanted to!

Ended up getting a Chocolate Surprise – filled with Belgian chocolate and a Brown Sugar Roll with brown sugar, walnuts and raisins.

IMG_1502

Both were delicious! Such fresh, soft, delicious, chewy bread. I am not a fan of raisins, but these ones were so big, plump, and juicy I thought it went really nicely with the walnuts in the roll.

And I also got the Gangnam Crown, I believe. Five individual buns with kimchi, cream cheese, and condensed milk. The combination of flavours may sound odd, but I assure you this was delicious. Spicy, creamy, salty and sweet – mmm!

IMG_1504

I know, I should’ve also taken photos of what the inside looked like to show you!

I still think of the awesome textures and tastes of the breads I tried, and prices were very reasonable as well! I really wish there was a Dough Collective here in Brisbane… maybe one day soon? Will definitely visit again when I have the chance though!

The Dough Collective on Urbanspoon

Delights at Crust & Co. Artisan Baking

Located on the side of the historic Red Brick Bakery in Newmarket, Crust & Co. Artisan Baking emits tantalizing smells of freshly baked breads and pastries. Open Friday to Sunday from 6am to 12pm, owners Sebastien Pisasale and Lara Sample are sure to have something tasty to please!

IMG_6904

Taken from their Facebook page: Sebastien draws on his French and Italian heritage to produce a delicious range from crusty sourdough to flaky croissants while Lara, of Chouquette Patisserie Boulangerie (New Farm), brings her experience running a successful artisan bakery business. 

Be sure to get there early! Although most likely there will already be a line up when you arrive 😉

IMG_6902

Once inside, there is a small counter lined with all the available delicacies, including traditional baguettes, sour dough loaves, multiple types of croissants, brioches, danishes, tarts, quiches, biscotti, muesli, and more. And yes, there is even coffee!

IMG_6905

IMG_6906

We got a number of items to try, and none of them disappointed!

Savoury breakfast brioche with mushroom and egg

IMG_6919

All the croissants were amazing, I believe we picked up one of each.

The plain croissant – flaky and buttery

IMG_1375

Pistachio croissant with spiced syrup. Subtle, yet flavourful and decadent!

IMG_6911

IMG_6914

Chocolate hazelnut croissant… mmm.

IMG_6915

Trio: Pistachio, plain chocolate, and hazelnut chocolate.

IMG_6923

They have a selection of fruit danishes, our favourite – blueberry

IMG_6909

Traditional baguette ($3) that we finished before the day was over. Next time, we are definitely trying the sour dough!

IMG_6918

The best part? Crust & Co. is definitely an affordable, regular treat with items ranging from $2.50 and up! It has become a favourite for us and we certainly look forward to every chance to visit!

Stop by Crust & Co. in the early morning Friday to Sunday for a delicious breakfast and stock up on beautiful breads and pastries for the rest of the weekend! 😉

Crust & Company Artisan Baking on Urbanspoon

Yummy delights at Macarons et Madeleines

December 18, 2013

I finally had the opportunity to visit my sister and brother’s favourite bakery in Ottawa – Macarons et Madeleines – a beautiful, warm and cozy home bakery tucked away in Chinatown that specializes in French pastries.

A semi-detached house, the first things that greet you as you enter: delicious aromas of freshly baked goods and Stephan Ethier’s friendly welcome.

IMG_6076

As it is a business run out of their home, Macarons et Madeleines does not have space for customers to sit down and eat, however, that doesn’t mean that their atmosphere is lacking in any way.

IMG_6069

A price list and guest book are set up in the foyer, Christmas decor lines the small yet spacious room, even a lovely wood fireplace.

IMG_6070

IMG_6071

Looks like there should be a cat around, but we didn’t get to meet him/her!

IMG_6074

Macarons et Madeleines offers a small selection of approximately 10 pastries on a regular basis. For macarons, only a few flavours are chosen and made each week, many of them creative adventures suggested by customers. In addition, there are others (like the chocolate almond croissant) available only on the weekends. They are also very happy to work with you to create any custom orders you might have, which is great!

IMG_6073

Stephan is a very friendly and extremely passionate patissier (read his biography here). He was more than happy to thoroughly explain the story and work behind the pastries, provide any tips and answer any questions. I did not have a chance to chat with his wife that day, but my sister tells me she is lovely and also just as friendly.

IMG_6068

After a bit of a chat and being given some information on everything available, it was difficult not to get everything to try!

IMG_6078

Christmas macaron flavours available were: pistachio-cinnamon (red), hot chocolate with marshmallow (white), and eggnog with rum (yellow) – we bought 2 of each to share ($2/each). Our favourite was the pistachio-cinnamon, having the most vibrant flavours of the 3, as well as great colour for the holiday season!

IMG_6089

Since we’ve never had a Cannele Bordelais ($3) before, we had to try. A small striated cylinder with a crispy carmelised crust and a soft custard inside – rich, creamy and delicious!

IMG_6085

Croissant ($1.75) – flaky and tender, easily one of the best ones we’ve ever had!

IMG_6083

Pain au chocolate/Chocolate croissant ($2.50) – even better than the regular croissant because of its smooth, creamy, chocolate centre, mmm!

IMG_6080

Apple turnover/Chausson aux pommes ($2.50) – most unique one we’ve tried as it is made with a velvety home made apple puree filling. I love apple+cinnamon, this one definitely did not last long.

IMG_6081

We also got a Brioche Parisienne ($1.25) which was very nice as well!

Macarons et Madeleines offers delicious French pastries Wednesday to Sunday starting at 7am until quantities last. Definitely worth a special visit, I promise you will not be disappointed! Not only will you be warmly received into the home of one of the most passionate pastry chefs, you will surely leave with amazing treats that will leave you pining for more!

Macarons et Madeleines on Urbanspoon

Long overdue catch up with Sareda at Art Is In!

December 14, 2013

By long overdue, I mean three years. Really.

Needless to say, it was great to see her and finally catch up. So much can happen in such little time, you easily don’t realize it until actually sitting down and having a chat.

For lunch, Sareda chose Art Is In Boulangerie. What a delight! And thanks again for the treat my dear!

IMG_6005

Unit #112 of the industrial loading bay at City Centre Ave, Art Is In has a very unique atmosphere. You walk through a black door to be greeted by high ceilings, minimal decor, shared seating in a large open space. And surprisingly, it’s very warm, inviting and cosy.

IMG_6008

IMG_6001

Being first time visitors, we appreciated that there wasn’t too much of a line when we arrived shortly after 12pm on a Saturday. We had the opportunity to ask questions regarding what was available and take a moment longer to make up our minds. I really liked how there was an employee taking our ‘hot food’ orders while we waited in line. By the time we got to the front of the line, ordered any additional pastries, breads, or other items from the bakery, paid and sat down at a table, the food took only a few more moments to arrive.

IMG_6006

IMG_6007

IMG_6003

We both decided on a sandwich and a pastry.

IMG_5995

Sareda chose the Thai chicken with apple, curry mayo, and havarti sandwich ($10.95)

IMG_5998

I got the Buttermilk brined chicken caesar sandwich ($10.95, tender chicken pieces with bacon, havarti, tomatoes, arugula and our homemade Caesar dressing. Served on our Dynamite Cheddar, jalapeno & chive bread).

IMG_5997

Both sandwiches were delicious, served such amazing crusty bread and filled with fresh vegetables and flavourful meat – yum! Although they were great, they are not the biggest sandwiches and I wish for the price, they came with a small side. Even if it was just a few greens.

For dessert, a danish with lemon curd and berries (I believe) for Sareda

IMG_6000

And a Chocolate Almond Croissant ($2.95) for me!

IMG_6002

Again, both extremely tasty! We each saved half to share with Sareda’s partner, Calvin, later.

We were definitely impressed with our first visit and left making plans to each come back in the future, yay!

December 17, 2013

And so, when Mike came up to Ottawa, I took him there for lunch!

He couldn’t pass up the same sandwich I got last time and ordered the chicken caesar, along with a coffee.

IMG_6051

We also bought 2 pastries to try:

IMG_6057

Sticky Bun with Pecans, Raisin & Caramel ($3.25). Delicious but extremely rich, especially as it is not technically a bun but more of a croissant. It is quite sweet, although the caramel is hardened, would’ve been nicer if it was slightly warmed!

IMG_6052

And the Maple Dipped Old Fashioned Potato Donut ($3.25). The donut had very lovely texture but otherwise quite bland, which is not technically a bad thing depending on what you are looking for! Or it could be because our taste buds were overwhelmed by the sticky bun 😛

IMG_6053

IMG_6054

❤ him!

IMG_6056

During the second visit, there were a few minor things I noticed that could be improved.

Although I don’t drink, directions for where to get self-serve coffee would be useful. There was confusion as nothing was labelled and wasn’t sure if the big dispensers contained other beverages like tea or hot chocolate.

Additionally, you are given pastries you order at the cash to take back to your table. Hot foods arrive when they are ready. However, there is no self-serve cutlery for those who would like to enjoy their pastries first or while they wait. A stash cutlery where the self-serve drinks are would be great and save the trouble of bothering an employee! 🙂

IMG_6059

Otherwise, the food is delicious on many levels. The atmosphere is great with a variety of clientele including families, elderly couples, and those on break from work. Turnover is quick and although it was quite busy both times I’ve visited, we never had trouble finding space to share and dine with others. Service is quick and friendly. My only regret is not buying some fresh loaves of bread to go! I guess that means I will just have to return soon… 😀

Art Is in Bakery on Urbanspoon

Visiting Dad & Cha Ca La Vong

January 02, 2013

My siblings and I finally went to visit my dad today at Beechwood Cemetery. Gosh, it was so cold! It had also snowed so much this season that my dad’s headstone was half buried.

As mentioned in an earlier photo of the day, we brought out my dad’s little dog statues to keep him company. My sister had given my dad these dogs a few years back, they represented his 3 children since he was born the year of the dog.

My sister then took us to try a bakery in Orleans… but too bad it was closed! Instead, we went grocery shopping before I headed back to my grandparents’ house to meet up with my cousin, Christine, to learn how to make Banh Bo.

It was a lot easier than I had anticipated, and in the end, it turned out nice! Thanks Christine! I will try to make some here in Brisbane when I can find all the ingredients.

That evening, my mom made her version of a Northern Vietnamese dish called “Cha Ca La Vong” and it was delicious! Definitely one of my favourite dishes 🙂 The combination of salmon, dish, fermented shrimp sauce, onions and peanuts is amazing – you must try it if you get the chance!

And in unrelated news, I tried a sapodilla fruit (sapoche) for the first time today! It was tasty and despite my apprehension, I wasn’t allergic! The taste reminded me of persimmons and be careful not to choke on the hooked seeds!

And in more unrelated food news, I had a pretty artful lollipop 🙂

Fardella’s Classic Bakery & Internet Cafe

December 28, 2012

While in Kingston, Michael took me to a bakery his brother Matt had introduced him too – Fardella’s Classic Bakery & Internet Cafe.

I can imagine the Fardellas have turned their bakery into a home away from home for many customers – I know I would be one of them if I lived nearby. Friendly faces greet you as you come through the door, an enormous center table full of baked delights immediately draws you in and then you look around and instantly feel like you could come here everyday.

A cozy living room area lets you sit and watch TV, grandfather clocks and other decor make you feel like you’ve stepped into the comforts of home, and of course, there’s always wifi! As a student, I crave exactly this kind of establishment, but unfortunately, no such thing exists here in Brisbane. Did I mention it’s open 24/7? I know! Isn’t that awesome?

The way customers are served is unique and enticing as well. You can place your order for prepared food at the counter, then help yourself to drinks and pastries, pick up your order and then sit down and enjoy your meal. Once you’re done, just head to the cash to pay, and perhaps you’d like to pick up some fresh bread and jams, or even more pastries on the way out!

Michael and I both decided on fritters, I got apple and he got blueberry. Both were $1.90/each and the size of my face – for real. And more importantly, they were delicious!

I really wish I could’ve made many more visits in order to try everything on their menu – but alas, perhaps next year!

Fardella`s Classic Bakery & Internet Cafe on Urbanspoon