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Winter in SoCal.
Up until recently did the weather decide to emulate winter here. It’s finally chilly during the daytime & we no longer crack the windows in the apartment! No longer wearing shorts & a tank top – I am wearing socks, tights & a zipped hooded sweatshirt. You have no idea how much I love this!

The timing is long overdue, since it’s the holiday season. I’m feeling so thankful these days for everything in my life.

This is going to be a really quick post, as I’ve got appointments to catch & work soon after!

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I wanted to post this adorable picture of some Forelle pears that I got from Sprouts yesterafternoon. According to Stemilt Orchards: “Forelle pears are one of the oldest European varieties, and are believed to have originated in the 1600s in northern Saxony, Germany. The name Forelle means “trout” in German, and was likely given to the pear because it has similar coloring as a Rainbow trout. German immigrants brought Forelle pears to the U.S. in the 1800s.” Fascinating! These pears are so dainty, I couldn’t resist putting my Christmas ornament next to them for scale in the above picture.

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Also pictured are some chestnuts that I plan on roasting & setting some aside for a chestnut chocolate cake… Stay tuned!

Hope everyone is having a lovely holiday season!

Yikes, I’m realising that nearly every post that I do post.. I am apologising for the dramatic gap of time that has elapsed between all of these posts. I will make no more promises (though as you can guess.. I am really busy <my job, phototherapy appointments, yoga center work trade, etc..>, hence the lack of consistent and frequent postings..as I imagine most people are often too pre-occupied to blog..of all things) but I will say: I think of blogging often yet by the time I get to it . .— you get the point.

But honestly, where has the year gone? It seemed so long ago when my husband & I booked our holiday airfare.. and yet lo & behold, we are departing in just over 3 weeks! I am incredibly excited. I love going back home (the PNW) + the holiday factor = just the best occasions to get out of here and to see the people we love! Furthermore, I am SO excited to bake pies upon pies for my family..especially since I no longer bake for a living now.

Minecraft Jack-o-Lantern

Had to share a picture of my Minecraft-inspired jack-o’-lantern! I adore it.

This would be our third autumn in SoCal & honestly, up until very recently, it felt like summer would never end (the heat of the day would be in the upper 80s). Halloween coincided with some lovely (& much needed) rain showers. To my delight, the mornings have since been nippy & I’ve even been able to wear actual pants + a quilted fleece zipped hoodie, drink hot beverages, indulge in steaming bowls of phở & revel in the stunningly cloudy sunsets (that now, thanks to daylight savings time.. is far too early).

I hope everyone had a lovely Samhain/Halloween! But most importantly, happy autumn!

I know, I know. It’s been about two months since my last post – many apologies! For about half of July, we’ve been on the road, seeing family & out camping – for the remaining half of the month, we’d been vastly occupied packing up our apartment and experienced the throes of moving!

My husband & I had a short layover in Seattle before meeting up with my family. Luckily it overlapped with Il Corvo‘s weekday lunch service (the times that we have stopped in Seattle, would coincide on the weekend)! We were in for a treat.

What is Il Corvo, might you ask? This establishment serves the most life-changing handmade fresh pasta in all of Seattle/possibly the West Coast. My husband & I would frequent the pasta shop in its early days of inception (co-existing inside a gelateria behind Pike Place Market) so much that Mike (the chef/owner) would come to be recognise us wherever we may be in the city (i.e. browsing the specialty food items in Pike Place’s DeLaurenti’s, etc.). Since we’ve moved to SoCal; we hadn’t been able to see their new permanent location until this most recent trip. 

il corvo work benchMafalda

Pictured above are the beautiful pasta-making tools on display, the marble work bench that doubles as communal dining/seating during service, the wonderfully sunlit space (thanks to the gorgeous Pacific Northwest summertime) & my dish: mafalda with white beans, boquerones, parsley, lemon & garlic. Heavenly. All I have to say is, if you truly appreciate amazing pasta – this place is worth going to.. Hands down one of the top 5 incredible food places in Seattle (in my opinion). If you’re into pizza, I’ll have you know – Mike has opened another establishment – Pizza Gabbiano – Roman-style pizza by the kilogram. I, for one, am looking forward to checking it out – & am curious if any of you guys have ventured to Corvo or Gabbiano (which, can I take a moment to appreciate the names of these places?? Corvo means crow in Italian & gabbiano means seagull – love it!). 

If this post were a complete food documentation of our trip; it would be absurdly long. However, here are some highlights:

WA cherriesBB Peach Pie
My mother went to her local orchard & picked 30+ pounds of Bing cherries for me to bring to my in-laws (I know, what a sweetie my mom is, albeit a wee bit overboard in generosity!) – in which a cherry pitting party ensued. The four of us hunkered down and filled 7 gallon ziplock bags of pitted cherries! As the upcoming days coincided with the Fourth of July & a family birthday (in which the birthday patron had a strong penchant for cherries), I could not resist making a pie.. or three (maybe I do take after my mother afterall)! Pictured above is a gluten-free blueberry peach pie that is looking quite patriotic & tastes like sweet sweet freedom (;

North Beach PTseaglass haul

 

Many a day was spent visiting, playing games (namely Carcassone & Nertz) and also taking some Northwest beach walks – pictured above is en route to Glass Beach in Port Townsend, WA. Glass Beach gets its name because it’s where remnants of Victorian glass shards (back when they used to dump glass-trash into the port) tumbled up & down the beach over the past century turning into sea glass. Little known fact: I adore beachcombing for sea glass.. I could do it for hours. Pictured above is my sea glass haul which is my biggest load yet! I must concede that I did have some help from my husband & his parents with the sea glass collecting. I even found some thick lavender-slate-coloured glass that we suspect that’s come from a shipwreck – fascinating to speculate upon. I think what attracts me to sea glass collecting, is that these little pieces of human-manipulated silica-turned-trash, have tumbled away daily for decades – in a sense, eroding away back into the beach and sea. Not any two pieces are the same : the composition of glass, the hues and tints, the way that the piece has originally broken, has yielded a unique piece of glass. A lot occurs on any given beach aside from the obvious tides coming in & going out: beach frequenters of all ages, dogs, maybe even a landslide, beached sea mammals, etc etc. How long does a single piece of sea glass lay undetected next to other pebbles and rocks before being picked up? Where and how did it migrate along the way? Kind of a metaphor for life.

Salt Creekwild mushrooms

Admittedly, I don’t have a lot of photos of our camping adventures – my phone/camera was often on the verge of being completely out of battery and also, wouldn’t you say that constantly being on your phone while out in nature detracts from the experience? I certainly think so. Pictured above is the morning tide out, exposing these small islands enveloped in a glorious sea fog in Salt Creek Recreation Area in Clallam County, WA out on the Olympic Peninsula. This was a really neat campground – our campsite was close to the beach (you could hear waves crashing into the shore at night), there were some fun trails (even encounters with deer trampling through trails and empty campsites!), interesting bluffs & a sweet stretch of tidal pools – but prominently on Tongue Point. You could even see British Columbia from the shore (which is why this was a strategically-placed WWII fort site called Camp Hayden). Also pictured, are some interesting wild mushrooms that I came across on a hike which only makes me nostalgic for foraging for golden chanterelles (they show up during autumn)! I love walking through forests, there’s so much to see when you take the time to pay attention. Lastly, I’ll leave you a picture of some adorable baby crabs that we’ve found while exploring tidal pools. Summer adventures at their finest.
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My odd sense of humour compelled me to take this photo after an excited customer accidentally overturned her just-purchased mini red velvet cupcake. She was remorseful but I simply laughed & quickly gave her a new cupcake. For me, this picture encapsulated everything that was going on at the time - a very pivotal moment during a time of chaos. A casualty in the realm of larger forces in opposition . . a reminder that the culmination of time/energy/effort, even with the best intentions, can go awry . . That there are always aspects of the situation out of one's control. Therefore you could either choose to be upset & angry or you could just laugh at the absurdity. & carry on. (I am hopeful that I am sounding existential & optimistic rather than not.) Happy June, everyone! Can you believe that this year is almost halfway over? What a whirlwind!

I feel silly for posting this picture of a bag of Canadian ketchup chips (this particular brand of chips) but I figured, it is a lingering remnant in relation to my last post. I chanced upon these at World Market & excitedly grabbed a bag. I didn't mention this in my last post but we did a bit of sampling of Canadian ketchup chips (not to the level of being connoisseurs of course). It is always so lovely to prolong the nostalgia of a holiday (a honeymoon no less!) when the day-to-day grind of life persists. Eating these tangy, savoury yet sweet crunchy chips has given me a few moments where I would distinctly remember driving down the Trans-Canadian highway, passing by shorn & frosted mountains, evergreens dusted with snow & snow flurries swirling in the wake of our tire tracks.

Oh Canada!

Definitely did not intend for this to be a bit o’ a travel blog but I just had to share a few snaps from my honeymoon to the Canadian Rockies. Thanks to my in-laws, we were able to stay in a condo timeshare – a comfortable place to ourselves with a kitchenette, gorgeous mountainside view, heated garage (for our rental car, which is nice because the daytime & nighttime temperatures drop below freezing), access to barbecues (yes, we’ve barbecue’d in the snow) & of course an outdoor heated pool & hot tub (swimming in the snow? Been there, done that!).

We went on some intense hikes in the snow/ice, summitting & trekking over to see frozen waterfalls, streambeds, rivers – even learned to ski (we are both seasoned snowboarders), saw wildlife (herds of elk, white-tailed deer & even a coyote). Got a bit of the historic sights & places too like the Fairmont Château at Lake Louise in Banff, the Cave & Basin National Historic Site, we hiked up Sulphur Mountain & took the the Banff Gondola back down, hiked around Johnston’s Canyon which was a MUST see, as most of the waterfalls were frozen yet beginning to thaw and of course we spent some time in the towns of Banff, Canmore & Calgary.

stroopwafel

Pretty much every morning commenced with freshly brewed coffee (thanks to the condo kitchenette & us buying organic & Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee from Sobey’s) & a stroopwafel atop. My husband spotted stroopwafels for sale at a the Olde Tyme Candy Shoppe in Canmore, which is a quaint historic mining town situated southeast of Banff. Stroopwafels are true treats – they originate from the Netherlands and are basically a caramel-like filling sandwiched by wafer-y flat waffles; set atop a steaming mug of coffee or tea. The steam warms the filling & is thusly gooey when broken into. Pretty amazing pairing. If you haven’t had any before & if you are in the U.S., I’ve seen stroopwafels for sale at various retailers in the U.S. (i.e. World Market, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, etc).

IMAG2819For breakfast most mornings, thanks to my husband who is an awesome cook & I – we had over-easy eggs with either English muffins or some pancakes (made with almond milk & Bob’s Red Mill GF pancake mix, which I highly recommend – the pancakes were hearty & fluffy, I even forgot that they were gluten-free).  My husband & I picked up a lean cut of Canadian maple-cured ham to have as a savoury slices with our breakfast. At a natural foods store called Nutters, we picked up some organic maple syrup (in which we topped oatmeal & our pancakes with!). We had maybe a fourth of a cup of syrup remaining by the time it was the end of our trip & you best believe that I tucked it into our check-in luggage to take home.. The stuff is gold to me!

I just realised that I didn’t take any snaps of the currency (Google if you wish) ! There are conflicting proclamations on whether Canadian bills smell like maple syrup or not. I would have to say that the scent is faint. Not on all bills either… My husband says that he only smelled ink.. The jury is still out on that one..

IMAG2864So please keep in mind that I am trying to make this post as food-centric as possible, because if anything, most of my photos have attempted to capture the glory that is the Canadian Rockies: snow-laden evergreen boughs, frosty mountaintops, completely frozen lakes, streams & waterfalls & the the wildlife.

Pictured next to this serving of elk-topped poutine is a lovely draught pint of Sleeman’s honey brown lager from Ontario.

So pictures of food are actually on the rarer side, though I am pleased to say that we encountered quite possibly the best poutine in Banff/maybe even all of Alberta at the Elk & Oarsman Pub (nice interior as well). Thick-cut pomme-frites topped with an incredible gravy (reminiscent of au jus), cheese curds (that are totally melted) & braised elk meat. Phenomenal. We were sort of addicted, even came back the next day to get more!

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Here’s a fun photo of a placard inside a Canadian teashop called Davids Tea..

We trekked out to Lake Louise to check out the area. The lake was expansive & still frozen over in most places, though we missed out on ice skating there (the rink was falrly slushy, it was the beginning of spring there afterall! Instead, we decided to indulge in a lunch at the Fairmont Château. The view from the dining room was stunning & since it was the tail-end of winter, icicles were melting off the rooftops & fell off the rooftops (incredibly entertaining yet horrifying to observe!) We shared a Reuben sandwich that was comprised of corned bison meat in a Reuben sandwich along with a quaint terrine of cabbage & kale soup.

Fairmont Lake Louise Dining View

On our last full day in Calgary – I ordered a Bloody Caesar at a pub. For those who don’t know, Bloody Caesars are essentially vodka, Clamato juice (tomato + clam juice), hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce & garnished with a salted rim &/or pickled garnish – in my case at Libertine Public House – it was an olive, banana pepper & a wedge of lemon. I didn’t realise it at the time, but apparently Bloody Caesars are considered quintessential Canadian cocktails, originating in Calgary! My husband & I agree that they are tastier & are more savory than Bloody Mary’s. When I returned to work & told my co-workers about it (most of us at my bakeshop are Bloody Mary aficionadas); some were put off by the idea of clam juice in a cocktail – but in all honesty, it just gives a lovely umami nuance to the drink & does not detract whatsoever! It’s all mental.
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As an endnote – this trip was incredible – if you ever consider going to the Canadian Rockies – I strongly encourage you to go!
We definitely want to go back. So many amazing memories & gorgeous sights to see.
Cheers!

Frozen waterfalls in Johnston's Canyon / Banff National Park

Frozen waterfalls in Johnston’s Canyon / Banff National Park

This is a beautiful brick of pu-erh tea (a highly oxidised & fermented black tea) that was pressed with a horse & the Chinese character for 'horse' on it to commemorate the new lunar year. I came across this while stopping in for a pot of tea at the Leaf & Kettle (a lovely tea shop here in northern San Diego) after work. Couldn't resist taking a picture. Forgive my blogging negligence! I've been really well though extremely busy! Expect more posts soon!

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