Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Exploring Downtown LA + Anaheim Packing House | LA Day 3


The city of Los Angeles is massive beyond imagination, so it comes as no surprise that the land of Hollywood darlings is North America's second largest metropolitan city. To give you a rough idea, Los Angeles is comprised of over 80 different neighbourhoods and districts. So it goes without saying that you really have to pick and choose which areas of Los Angeles you really want to explore.

Prior to my trip I had asked a few of my friends to recommend where I should go and areas they think I should skip. They were unanimous on me not going to Downtown LA; however, LA's city centre has undergone a notable revitalisation and as cliche as it may sound, it is on its way to being the next up and coming region in LA. 

The historic district of downtown LA is a must visit as it is block after block of stunning wrought iron and ornate stone carved facades. I have always been a sucker for older architecture so it was almost like a treat to see Spanish Gothic (Ace Hotel dt LA), Beaux Arts (Hotel Rosslyn Annex), and Italian Renaissance Revival (Bradbury Building). One of my biggest regrets is not visiting the Bradbury Building and you will know why after you do a quick google search of its interior. 

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Universal Studios Experience + TIPS | Day 2 in LA

Universal Studios Hollywood Spring 2018
Part theme park, part working film studio, Universal Studios Hollywood is an amusement park like no other in the world. Situated in North Hollywood, Universal Studios spans across two lots. The Upper Lot features the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Springfield from the Simpson's and several larger than life shows while Lower Lot is fairly small and is where you will find the Mummy ride, Transformer's and Jurassic Park. 

Being a Potter Head, my first stop was the gorgeous real life rendering of Hogwarts, Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. A lot of the shops from the Harry Potter books have been recreated including Ollivander's, Honeydukes, Owl Post and Zonko's Joke Shop. Sure the main focus is to sell merchandise, but the staff are not pushy and will let you explore and take as many pictures as you want. The Hogwarts castle stands big and large making it visible from afar and at the base of the castle is the entrance to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Ride which is hidden from sight inside the castle. The ride is amazing and the dementors genuinely scared the soul out of me. Flight of the Hippogriff though is an absolute let down and not worth wait, so if you are on a time crunch, I would give it a pass. 

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Los Angeles Day 1 Spring 2018

Daniel Wellington Abbot Kinney Blvd #LoveWall
It is still hard for me to believe that my dream of visiting Disneyland did in fact come true. Can you believe it because I am still in disbelief that I was at the most magical place on earth in April 2018! The trip to Disneyland happened in a spur of a moment because I found out BC residents are eligible for 25% off tickets to Disneyland, but they must be purchased by February 28, 2018. I honestly only had a week to decide if I was going to go and I am glad that went ahead with it. Since Anaheim is only a 45 minute drive away from LA, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to also explore Hollywood and while I was at it, to also hit up Universal Studios. 

I was in California for a total of 7 days - 3 days at Disneyland, 1 at Universal and the remaining 3 exploring the city of Los Angeles. I am going to be splitting my trip into several posts starting with my very first day in LA! 

LAX | Friday April 20th, 2018 

The first few nights we spent at the Four Points by Sheraton which was approximately 10 minutes from LAX Airport. I got into LA around 11AM and was thankful that my room was ready early allowing me to ditch my luggage and freshen up before heading out to explore. 

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Beta 5 Ice Cream Socials Return - Strawberry Fields Forever



My favourite ice cream event is back for another summer! Beta 5 Chocolates kicked off their infamous Ice Cream Socials May 12th, Mother's Day Weekend with a Mimosa Sundae. As I am a massive citrus lover, there was no way that I was going to miss it. I missed the Surfin' USA sundae, a coconut and pineapple flavoured one which was the second sundae for this year. Both of those weekends I was immensely busy, so I know I did not post anything about them. So I am going to get right into the third sundae for 2018's social which is the Strawberry Fields Forever. 

Beta 5 got their inspiration for this sundae from the Beatles song and wanted to play homage to it in ice cream form. A scoop of strawberry sherbet was paired with a scoop of vanilla ice cream that had rhubarb swirled through it. Of course, no sundae is complete without toppings and Beta 5 really delivered for this one. 

The sundae cam with macerated strawberries, mini biscuits, kataifi hay, strawberry chocolate shards and their signature vanilla chantilly. I love that the way they sliced the strawberries before macerating them and the mini biscuits were crispy and coupled with the kataifi hay it brought a great texture to the sundae. The chocolate shard was beautiful and the painted strawberries on it was a beautiful touch. Definitely lots of strawberry going on in this sundae which is what I want when its called Strawberry Fields Forever. 


The vanilla ice cream was rich and had a creamy texture. You could see the vanilla bean seeds in the ice cream, but I did not get much of the rhubarb swirl. My only issue with this sundae is the level of sweetness of the strawberry sherbet. I have become accustomed to Beta 5's refreshing sorbets that often let the fruit speak for itself, so I was frankly taken aback by this extremely sugary sherbet.

You might be wondering what is sherbet and how does it differ to sorbet? Like sorbet, it is often made with pureed fruits, sugar and water, but sherbet has a little bit of dairy added, making it creamier and often pastel in colour. However, they went quite heavy-handed on the sugar masking the real fresh strawberry and instead left the sherbet tasting like an artificial strawberry candy - definitely more appealing to a child's palette versus an adults. 

I hope Beta 5 will adjust the level of sweetness in their future sundaes considering the vast majority of their clientele are late teens and adults that have an appreciation for more delicate flavours. Beta 5's restraint with sugar is what initially attracted me to their ice creams and is why I have continued to drive up from Richmond weekend after weekend. I also find sorbet and ice cream to be a killer combination because in the summer heat you want that cooling refreshing sorbet with the richer ice cream complimenting the light sorbet. Fingers crossed that Beta 5 ditches the overtly sweet sherbets and returns to their refreshing dairy-free counterpart. 

BYES

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Donating My Hair to Wigs for Kids BC




I have wanted to donate my hair for a very long time to an organization that makes wigs for those who have lost their hair from cancer. I do not have a problem with cutting my hair, but I am one of those people who likes to keep their hair short, so the thought of growing it way past my shoulders just made me shudder at the idea. I have dealt with anxiety all my life and when I am not feeling really good, I tend to pull at my hair, especially if it is in my way. So I prefer short hair because of that and also because it is quick to wash, dry and style. If you have thick hair like me, you will also understand how long it takes to dry! 

The organization I chose to donate my hair to is Wigs For Kids BC. The program is based out of BC Children's Hospital and they focus on not only raising money for human hair wigs, but also essential drugs and feeding supplies for children with cancer or other serious illnesses. Unlike synthetic hair wigs, human hair wigs look real and are far more comfortable to wear. Wigs For Kids BC partners with local Vancouver wig makers to make the custom wigs for eligible children. 

I started letting my hair grow out about a year ago and holy moly did it ever grow. Last month I went down to LA and Disneyland and I really did not want to have long hair in that warm muggy weather, so it was time to finally chop it off. I really did not think it was going to be long enough, but it was! It was pretty funny when my stylist tried to cut my hair because it was so darn thick the razor struggled to get through the braid. I ended up with four bundles of my braided hair that measured 9 inches long. Unbraided I bet it would be 10.5 inches! 

There is some criteria that you need to meet in order for your hair donation to be acceptable. Your hair must be a minimum of 8 inches long from the elastic band. It must be bound tightly in a pony tail, but braids are totally fine too! Ideally the hair should be virgin - untreated, uncoloured - but highlights to a certain extent is now acceptable. 

Its takes 10 to 15 hair bundles to make a single custom wig for a child. The wigs are custom fit to ensure a proper fit and the most natural look. Not to mention the wigs average between $1,000 to $3,000 which is extremely steep and tough for many families to afford. 

I am really glad I did this and hope to donate again in the future. Thank you for all the sweet comments and love on Instagram, but frankly, it is the children who undergo treatment for cancer that are truly the brave ones. Hoping the wig that is made from my hair makes a child truly happy. 

BYES


The ends of the braids are so soft! No wonder so many makeup brushes are made from human hair.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Gyoza Bar's New Weekend Brunch

Bacon 'n Egg Ramen
It is no secret that I am obsessed with Brunch so when I heard Gyoza Bar launched their very own brunch menu, you know I had to try it! Known for their namesake Gyozas, the West Pender eatery is actually owned by the same people who run Miku which is Vancouver's premier luxury sushi bar. So just like their sushi counterpart, the food at Gyoza Bar is nothing short of phenomenal.

I have popped into Gyoza Bar for lunch many times in the past and have always left with a satisfied full belly. I also happen to be obsessed with pan-fried gyoza, so obviously I am a happy chickadee there.

Since Gyoza Bar is a Japanese restaurant, it was important for Head Chef Woo Jin Kim to develop a brunch menu that was rooted in Japanese flavours. For me, I felt he really achieved his goals and struck a fine balance between Japanese cuisine and Western Brunch culture. 

Brunch has steadily gained popularity in Vancouver, so we wanted to do our own take, but with a Japanese influence. We focused on savoury comfort food flavours. 

It seems like Gurleen and cocktails now go hand-in-hand, so I had both of their brunch cocktails - the Komosa and the Strawberry Pistachio Frozen Cocktail. The Komosa was made with campari, orange juice and lemon ginger kombucha while the Strawberry Pistachio Frozen had rose and gin. Of the two, I prefer the Strawberry Pistachio as it was a refreshing drink and I could really taste the real strawberries that were used. The Komosa though very beautiful had a strong alcohol taste and I prefer sweeter more fruity tasting ones. 

The Pulled Pork Bao Benny is by no means a traditional eggs benedict. Fluffy baos were filled with sweet pulled pork, maple miso hollandaise and a picture perfect poached egg. It came with a side of traditional pickled jalapeƱo + onion + cauliflower + radishes as well as some crispy potatoes topped with togarashi spiced kimchi corn hash and tsukemono. I loved how the baos were seared until they got golden and crispy, but I wish the same crispy texture carried over to the potatoes because they were really soft. 

My favourite dish was the Okonomiyaki and Chicken Karaage. It was everything I love, sweet, sticky, savoury and a diverse mix of flavours. In a cast iron skillet comes a lovely soft savoury Japanese pancake that is topped with sweet and sour soy glazed chicken, a sunny side up egg, asian slaw and a generous drizzle of both tarter sauce and Japanese barbecue sauce. I know there is a lot going on, but trust me, it is delicious because nothing can beat crispy fried chicken and savoury pancakes. I also loved the addition of pickled onions as it counterbalanced the sweetness of the other sauce. 

At this point I was getting very full, but I still had the Bacon 'n Egg Ramen to go! Long ribbony ramen noodles were in a smoked soy chicken broth topped with crispy bacon, green onion, corn , pea shoots and a sunny side up egg. The addition of the crispy bacon strip and sunny side up egg really made it look like a breakfast ramen. The broth had a nice deep rich flavour and their noodles were spot on. The egg yolk coated the noodles making them silky and yummy. 

Of course, I was not going to leave without dessert and so I tucked into a mochi stuffed with ice cream that was then finished with strawberry sauce. I am not a big mochi person, but I really did love this particular one and definitely see myself ordering it again. 

Thank you for having me over Gyoza Bar for your new Brunch Menu! Chef Woo Jin Kim said they are still working on the menu and will be adding more dishes to it in the future. Hoping to see a cool breakfast gyoza, how good would that be! 

BYES


Pulled Pork Bao Benny
Left: Komosa Right: Strawberry Pistachio Frozen Cocktail

Okonomiyaki + Chicken Karaage
Bacon 'n Egg Ramen
Mocha stuffed with Ice Cream and topped with Strawberry Sauce

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Mijune Pak Resident Judge on Top Chef Canada

Photo provided by Food Network Canada
Follow Me Foodie is probably one of the most well-known food blogs and the women behind it happens to be a Vancouverite, Mijune Pak. She always had an obsession with food and with a little encouragement from her sister, Mijune created Follow Me Foodie in July of 2009.

While completing her communications degree at SFU, Mijune put all of her spare energy towards her blog. For about 3 to 3.5 years, she published on average about 2500 word article a day. Not only did she publish every single day, all of her articles were well thought out and often involved 10 hours of work. This usually began with doing some research on the restaurant and chef before going in to eat and typing out her thoughts. I can barely get out two posts a week. Mijune hustled hard, so it really makes me happy to see that all of her hard work did no go unnoticed.

I love eating out hence why my blog and social media is often inundated with pictures of pasta, lattes and cakes; however, it is expensive, so I could not help, but be a little curious about how Mijune affords to eat out so often. I asked her outright and the answer did not surprise me.
I am passionate about food and it just became a part of my lifestyle. I saved every penny that I could to put towards my love of eating. 
Mijune has a sincere love and appreciation for food, both casual and it comes across in all of her writing. Over her 8 and a half years as a food blogger, Mijune eaten at around 25 of The World's 50 Best Restaurants collectively across all the years since it's been published. I also think Mijune needs to start competing in food eating competitions because this little lady can eat. The most she's eaten in a day was 46 dishes at 6 restaurants over 10 hours. Oh and she usually eats every morsel of food on her plate if she enjoys it, and her closest friends are happy to attest to it.  She's not a one or two bite eater. 

Top Chef Canada's latest season just premiered this past weekend and Mijune is back at the judge's table for a second season. So what is it like being on set?


5:30 AM | Wakeup & Shower

6:00 AM | Hair & Makeup

8:00 AM | Competitor's begin the Elimination Challenge

12:00 PM | Tasting the Competitor's Dishes

3:00 PM | Finish with Tasting

6:00 PM | Judge's Begin Deliberation

8:00 PM ~ 10:30 PM | Wrap-up for the Night


If you have watched Top Chef Canada - which you should do! - you already know that every episode opens with a Quick Fire Challenge which is then followed by the Elimination Challenge. The two challenges are filmed on two separate days, so Mijune only needs to be on set every other day for the Elimination Challenge. The first couple of deliberations can be quite long since there are a lot of dishes to consider which means they can be finishing as late as 10:30 PM, but as more competitors are eliminated, they can wrap up as early as 8:00 PM.

Mijune always looks on point on the show and I had to know if she got to keep any of the outfits. Unbeknownst to me, the majority of the dresses, all of the accessories and shoes were actually her own in the first seasonIn the second season about 1/3 were  her own, and all accessories and most shoes were hers as well. So what we saw in Top Chef Canada All-Stars was Mijune's own style which I would describe as chic, girly and elegant. I personally prefer skirts and dresses, so I have been fawning over her wardrobe.

Most people know Mijune's food obsession, but she also has a huge fashion interest. If you go back and re-watch season 1 and pay attention to Mijune. Every single episode she has a completely new look. Out of all the judges, Mijune spent the most amount of time in pre-looks. She got to work closely with the hair and makeup team and together, they came up with unique new looks.

Mijune is no longer the new kid on the block. The reboot was a major success last Spring, so for this season, Mijune's wardrobe was half her own and half picked out by the stylists. I honestly cannot wait to see what she wears this time and if I am able to discern her own personal pieces from the ones the stylist's chose.


Mijune's favourite dessert, the Candy Cap Ice Cream from Hawksworth
Before wrapping up my interview with Mijune, I had a few important questions to ask. Have you met my bae Gordon Ramsay? Unfortunately, not yet, but she has promised me that she will tell Chef Ramsay that I think he is amazing! Best dessert in Vancouver? For something casual, Mijune loves the double baked peanut butter and jelly croissants from Elmo Baking. Her favourite bougie dessert is  the CandyCap Ice Cream with Toasted White Chocolate, Toffee and Walnuts from Hawksworth.

I am not going to lie, I was a bit starstruck because Mijune Pak is one of the original food bloggers! After saying goodbye and leaving the restaurant, I remembered that I had not taken a picture with her, so I bashfully made my way back and meekly asked for a picture with her. Gosh I look hella derby hahaha

An awkward picture of me, but Mijune looks on point as per usual! 
Massive thank you to Mijune for making the time in her busy schedule to meet with me and I hope this is the first of many lunches together! Feel free to take me on any of your foodie trips!

BYES