Friday, August 31, 2012

Om Nom

This is Om Nom. If you play app games, you may be familiar with him. If not, go google the game, "Cut The Rope."

A couple of months ago, I was obsessed with this game. I enjoy little puzzle-solving, strategy games. (I'm currently hooked on "Where's My Water"). It's so frustrating when you can't get a puzzle, yet so satisfying when you can. And both of these games are made at a level where I get enough of both frustration and satisfaction to make it super fun. (Can't be too easy or too hard). 

Nonetheless, a couple of months ago, Kat asked me, "Are you still playing Cut The Rope?". 

"Yah, why? Thinking of getting it too?".

"No, just wondering if you're still hooked."

Remember this post

The something she was making for me was this Om Nom. So completely random. So incredibly cute. And it totally made my heart melt. I was a little glum during that time and this so random surprise made me shed a happy tear inside. I love Om Nom from Cut The Rope! Isn't he cute? And the candy magnets to his mouth. 

Thanks a bunches, Kat!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mobile Blogging From The PNE

I heart the PNE. It will always have a spot in me. It was one of my favorite places to go for many summers when I was a child. I was so excited and giddy about it as summer rolls around that my cousin, Karen, and I would write up a list of which rides we would on and in which order. (we were crazy kids... Well, and crazy adults now). It is just another carnival, some would say. With everything just the same as the last. But it does hold a whole lot of fun memories for me so this really isn't "just another carnival" for me. And I love that it's a local summer spot that hasn't really changed much. I get a bit of nostalgia and I love that some things could be just as simple and the same.

My parents used to let us have all the fun we can. We'd go early and leave late. It's the one time a year we get to share cotton candy. They'll wait hours for us to get on and off the rides. And they throw out a ton of money for us to play any games we want. We made artwork with paint and spinning paper. We've filled up bottles with colourful sand. Dad would try to win us each a stuffed animal. And he's also bought us all souvenirs to keep. As a child, it was heaven. And I'll always remember PNE that way. With such memories, it's easier to understand why I love it more than Disneyland.

PNE is a little different now as an adult. Instead of the rides and games, got to enjoy the rib rest with my friends today. Yummy!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Brulee Crunch By Jacque Torres

One of my most absolute favorite chocolates is this Brulee Crunch made by the only Jacques Torres. I got a couple bars from Jen six years ago when she went on her trip to New York, and since then I've been hooked. I saved it for moments when I really wanted it and savored every piece.

People tell me that true chocolate lovers will gradually move onto dark chocolates for their rich and intense cocoa flavour (and also the fact that it's better for you), but as much as I love dark chocolates, I still have a place and moment for my creamy milk chocolates. It's a guilty pleasure.

This one, as all chocolates made by "Mr Chocolate", Jacques Torres, is extra creamy. The texture screams heavenly as it coats your mouth. Mr. Torres knows well when it comes to tempering his chocolate to this perfect creaminess. And with this brulee one, you get pleasant surprises in between with these tiny buttery crunchy bits. It really is a yummy combination.

So, ever since six years ago, whoever makes a trip to New York, I always ask, if convenient, that they help me bring back some of Brulee Crunch. I don't get it very often of course, which makes it extra special when I do! I just popped a square in my mouth and mmm mmm mmm...

Thanks, Bran!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Bike Ride While Preppin' Dinner

While passing a grocery market on the way home from lunching with ex-coworkers and running errands, I had a sudden urge to cook turkey leg for dinner tonight. 

Turkey leg has become my go-to comfort dinner. It's easy to make and absolutely delicious. It's healthy to boot. It reminds me of those special family occasions when the roasting aroma fills the kitchen. It brings a kind of cozy and warmth, and I love it. I pair it with veggies of different hues to make it extra colourful.

I brined the legs as usual to enhance its flavours and allow it to trap its moisture. Brining with a 1/2 cup of salt and enough water to cover them. While brining, I prep the veggies. Websites suggest brining for at least two hours, but I find even an hour is good. I shove the turkey leg into a pan and then into the oven. Set the temperature to 350 degrees and that was it. Set it and forget it. My kind of cooking. 

As the turkey was roasting, my brother and I went out for a bike ride. Made it across the city and I got owned by one super steep hill. Just gives me something to conquer another day. My knee and ankle were complainin' a bit during the ride, but nothing I couldn't work through. Rode back home just in time to take out the turkey legs. After an hour and 45 minutes of roasting, it was done. And it all tasted like I slaved away at the kitchen all day. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it and that makes me happy.

Family Reunion Cruise Highlights #3 - Cutey Patootey

There was a cotton candy machine on the cruise ship which made all the kids crazy. Sugar crazy. There was a lot of "you can't eat all of that" from the parents. This is one of my cousin's babies, Hayley. She's four, so technically not a baby. But still one of the youngest in the family. She is so cute I could die.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Family Reunion Cruise Highlights #2

This is my cousin, Tom, sneaking into the kitchen during our galley tour to steal some freshly cooked filet mignon. Yup. That's my family.

Family Reunion Cruise Highlights #1

Beet and feta cheese salad.

One of the biggest highlights of the cruise must have been the food. I've been on a few cruises before, but none of the food compared to this one. This is all food for the sit-down dinners we had each night. On top of the wonderfully presented, amazingly delicious food, we had exceptional service. Here are some of my favorites.

Rich mushroom soup.

Beef carpaccio.


Prime rib.

Most nights, I couldn't even fit dessert after dinner. I would mostly choose a sorbet. The cold and tangy seems to help with digestion. And the best part? Celebrity Cruises makes their own sorbets and ice creams on the ship. And you can totally tell! The flavours just burst inside your mouth. I would go back just for their sorbets. This one was the lychee.

Cedar plank sablefish.

Lobster tail.

Cold blueberry soup. So refreshing.

Rib eye steak.

Crab salad. With toasted coconuts and raisins. So good.

One of my favorite desserts. Strawberry shortcake with kiwi sorbet. The kiwi sorbet was the best part.

Baked Alaska.

Filet Mignon.

Melon and proscuitto salad.

Molten lava cake.

Chocolate souffle. One of my cousins taught me how to eat a souffle properly. You're suppose to poke a hole in the center of the souffle and pour the sauce in. Mix it around and enjoy. This one came with a vanilla sauce and ice cream.

Sometimes, in between courses, we got a tiny bit of sorbet for palate cleansing. I was given the mango tangerine at first, along with the rest of the kids I was sitting with at the table. "The orange one for the kids, the pink one for the adults!", the waiter announced. The pink one was a raspberry red wine sorbet. I'll take it as a compliment... that I look like a child. My cousins had a good laugh.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Good Times With Family

Got an email from my cousin post family reunion cruise. His kids are such hams. 

(ham : an actor who tends to be either a) overly dramatic or b) obviously enjoys the spotlight. )

It's been two weeks since we've been back. It's about time that I re-cap on some of the highlights from the trip!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Matty's First Date

Matty threw a pizza party and invited his two girlfriends, Alayna and Sarah. He picked out one of his best baby blue outfits and spiffed up his hair. Moments before Sarah's arrival, his grandma took him for a weighing. At barely 3 months old, he weighed a hefty 18 lbs. A chubby monkey for sure. He only hopes Sarah and Alayna won't notice his extra round cheeks. Auntie Amie heard Auntie Karen greet Auntie Jen and Sarah at the door, so Auntie Amie scooped Matty up and walked down the stairs to the front door for Matty to meet Sarah for the very first time. By the time Auntie Amie made it to the bottom of the steps...

Matty fell asleep.

So for his very first party, the adults enjoyed the pizzas. Matty slept. And Sarah was left to play by herself under these toys. What a date.

But that's okay. Sarah was content staring at herself in the mirror. Very much so.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Happy Birthday, Owen

Happy first birthday, Owen!

Had a lovely afternoon at Westburn Park today. Celebrating Owen's birthday with his sister, Lyla, and all their friends. Happy birthday, little one.

CliffWalk at the Capilano Suspension Bridge

This cliffwalk extends out from the rocks to the trees. The width of the walkway is just as wide as one person. I got a mild case of height phobia as I crossed the platform. It got increasingly so as I went further, but I know it was all mental. 

I crossed the cliffwalk with Lindsay, one of my cousin's kid. She's 9 years old. As we crossed this semi-circle path, she asked me a question.

Lindsay : Auntie Amie, if all the cables broke, would you scream? (Talking about the cables supporting the cliffwalk).
Me : Yes, I think I would.
Lindsay : I wouldn't.
Me : You wouldn't? What would you do?
Lindsay : I wouldn't scream. I'm just going to die. Everyone dies once. That just means I die early! (She says all this in her peppy, kiddie 9-year-old voice)
Me : So instead of screaming, you'll say "Oh well!". 
Lindsay : Yup! Oh well! 

Then she ponders what she just said, and adds...

Lindsay : But it would suck for my friends.

I tell ya... the things this kid says...

With every wild animal we came across, she would quietly say, "Auntie Amie, isn't it beautiful?".

The Capilano Suspension Bridge area has completely changed since I last visited. Although admission is a little pricey, I totally enjoyed it. For locals, one admission ticket gets you an annual pass. I've love to go again with the weather gets cold. It's actually quite a beautiful walk through the trees. I find myself the most content when I'm somewhere lost in a forest. If you can choose one place that you're most at peace, where would it be? 

Did I ever mention I have this strange infatuation with trees? I find them the most beautiful thing about nature. You can find people saying "Look at those beautiful roses and tulips", and you'll find me saying "Look at that gorgeous tree." I love their luscious green colour. It brings such life, energy, and freshness. I love their different shapes and sizes. Some cute. Some grandiose. I love how sunlight shines through their leaves. I love the different kinds of leaves. I love how easily you can find a starburst between its branches.

BC Wine School

A couple nights ago, I went for a little wine tasting. Along with the few sessions that I went with my cousins on our family cruise, this would make it my fourth session this week. But anyway, back to BC Wine School.

We got to sample 15 different wines from all over the globe. Before this session, I had told a few people about my experience at my previous wine tasting session on the cruise ship. We sampled 12 different wines that time also from all around the world. My cousins and I concluded that we learned we all enjoyed the same local wines from North America. It generally has more aroma and flavour, compared to the European wines that tend to seem more watery and flat. We agreed that it must be due to the reason that we've all just grown adapted and used to what we normally drink.

After sampling the 15 different wines this time, it was very apparent that my observation from the previous session stayed consistent. The local wines (from BC, from California, etc) tend to have more flavour and notes, while the European wines (from Germany, Italy, France, Spain, etc) tend to be more flat and watery. But, on top of that, we learned that there is a reason. The European wines (also called the "Old World" wines) are meant to be paired with food. Its relatively flat and watery characteristic matches its purpose, which is to compliment the food you're eating, but not overpower it. Having too many flavours going on at one time, will take away your enjoyment of the food you're eating. Whereas the wines from everywhere else other than Europe (also called the "New World" wines) tend to be more aromatic and flavourful because it's meant to be sipped on its own. A drinking wine.

I've been to other wine tastings in the city, and while some friends enjoyed the other sessions more (because they're more educational than just simply wine tasting), I actually preferred this session more. I personally liked it because it seemed less "stuffy". I found the instructor's descriptions of some of the wines rather amusing.

"Can you taste the pencil sharpening in this wine?". (describing the woody, oaky flavour)

"This wine was only half oaked. So it's less like you're sucking on a two-by-four." (also describing the woody, oaky flavour).

"So... if you must get a present for someone you don't really like, this wine might be it." (describing a so-so mediocre wine that probably won't offend anyone).

I enjoy the educational part behind these sessions, but in the end, to me anyway, if you like the wine, you like the wine. Everyone will have different taste and preferences. One wine isn't better than another to me... someone could enjoy a $10 bottle of wine just as much as someone else enjoying a $400 bottle of wine. And that's great either way.

I was told that beginner wine drinkers tend to go on the sweeter side first, and as they grow to learn about wines, most people will switch to dryer wines. This may be true, however, I don't believe this defines one as a beginner or experienced wine drinker. I'm skeptical to believe anything in the wine world... other than the fact that if you like it, you'll drink it.

I prefer wine (over beer and hard liquor) because I do enjoy the taste. Actually, I take that back... I sometimes can enjoy a beer just as much minus the carbonation. On a warm, summer day... I'll go for a glass of white wine or a pint of beer on a patio without hesitation. I still prefer my local wines and depending on what I feel like, I could go dry or sweet (like a riesling or moscato and not an ice wine).

Overall, it was a fun, enjoyable night to unwind after a day's work.