Friday 16 December 2016

Local Love | Fabulous Vancouver-based Gift Guide

The holidays are going by so quick and before we know it, Christmas day will be upon us. The malls have been absolutely packed with frantic shoppers and the stores are an absolute mess by the end of the day. I feel awful for those who have to tidy the stores once the doors finally close for the night. I cannot even imagine doing their job; therefore, be nice when a sales associate helps you with your shopping and do not leave a path of destruction in your wake. 

This year, I wanted to focus on a gift guide that highlights local Vancouver talent and point out some more unique gift ideas. I have taken the time to compile a list of 9 fabulous presents that anyone would be overjoyed to receive. If I missed an item that you feel should have been included, please do leave it in the comments below!

Brunette the Label | Babes who Brunch Crewneck
This is one item that I am crossing my fingers for to receive as a gift. I have watched this Vancouver-based brand flourish over the short span of two years and launching their first full collection this Fall 2016. Yup, the boss babes behind this brand released their first sweatshirts in early 2015. Their crewnecks are warm and cozy and something you will probably reach for everyday. 

Beacoup Bakery | house-made syrups and sauces
Their flakey croissants are legendary amongst Vancouverites and the person who brings a box of Beacoup croissants to the office is probably everyone's favourite co-worker. I would not complain if I got one of their almond croissants as a present, but I would devour it in seconds. I suggest gifting some of Beacoup's in house made infused syrups and sauces to the foodie in your life. They are all packaged in cute glass canning Weck jars which can be re-used after. 

Sage Wellness x Dana Mooney | Ultrasonic Diffuser
Dana Mooney is a Vancouver-based artist who does stunning multi-media abstract paintings. For a second year in a row, Dana Mooney has teamed up with Sage Wellness to create this limited edition "Aroma Art" piece. A portion of the proceeds will go towards local charities. A great gift for anyone who loves aroma therapy. 

Old Faithful Shop | Vancouver Market Bag
Technically, the Vancouver Market Bag is part of a bigger collection that is not exclusive to Old Faithful Shop (which happens to be a favourite store of mine!), but I personally own one of these bags and they are amazing! These natural jute bags are handcrafted in Bangledash by women that are paid fairly. 

Butter Bakery | Celebrates Cookbook by Rosie Daykin
Vancouverites living on the west side of Vancouver have probably visited Butter bakery for their delicious marshmallows and cookies. Owner Rosie Daykin published her second bake book featuring more of her family's recipes including baked goods available at her bakery, Butter. The perfect present for the baking fanatic in your life!

Pacific Design Lab | Handcrafted Wood Serving Boards
I am in love with Pacific Design Lab's wood serving boards as they are truly stunning works of art! They are handcrafted at their Chinatown workshop in Vancouver and their team focuses on highlighting the woods' natural beauty. A quality wood board will last decades if cared for properly. 

G Ceramic & Co | Handmade Pottery
Artisan Gabrielle has been working the pottery wheel since 2011 at her Vancouver studio. I really love the simplicity yet striking geometric design of her clay pieces. Her Fitzgerald collection is my favourite as it features white glaze pieces with unique geometric 18 karat gold design. The mini planter is a great piece to gift with a cute little succulent nestled inside!

33 Acres | Ceramic Growler
For the craft beer enthusiast in your life, why not gift them 33 Acres' stunning ceramic growler, available in both 64oz and 32oz. Of course, be sure to gift the growler filled with one of 33 Acres home brews.  

Vancouver Candle Co. | Vancouver Neighbourhood Collection
Who does not like a good candle? Especially something so cleverly branded and packaged. I cannot be the only one who is a sucker for presentation now can I? All of their candles are hand-poured at their Vancouver studio and come packaged in a gorgeous gift box. The best part, the candles smell amazing and are clean burning pure soy base. 

Let me know if you pick up any of those gifts for your friends and family! I know I will be grabbing some of these items for myself!


Friday 9 December 2016

Local Love | Garden Party Flowers shows how to create a 3 different arrangements

The tape grid helps keep the stems in place when working with this tall cylindrical vase.
Vancouver continues to grow as an urban city on the Pacific West Coat; however, despite the increasing concrete towers, Vancouverites remain grounded and appreciate the simple beauties of nature. Florists across the lower mainland help us appreciate the stunning flowers and foliage that we take for granted in our world. Many florists in Vancouver have made it a point to use as many local and seasonal stems in their arrangements to help us realize that our concrete towers cannot stop the natural beauty!

I personally have always been mesmerized by the simple elegance of flowers, which is apparent by my equal ratio of flowers to food to clothing pictures on my Instagram. Whenever I receive a bouquet of flowers, I am overjoyed because even on the toughest of days, a beautiful floral arrangement always manages to make me smile. That is why I love having a vase of flowers in my entranceway, so when if I come home from a rough day, my spirits are instantly lifted as soon as I see the stunning floral arrangement. Unfortunately, I always manage to ruin the stunning design of the arrangement when I transfer the bouquet to a vase. In many instances, the stems are too long, so I usually end up disassembling the bouquet to trim down the stems.

When Amy, the fabulous owner of Garden Party Flowers invited me to come learn about floral arrangements with one of her florists, I just could not pass the opportunity up! I had the pleasure of working with the florist Estefani who walked me through the basics of flower arrangement and design by using three different examples. The coolest part, this talented lady used the exact same flowers and greens for each of the three arrangements. 

A few general guidelines to keep in mind when arranging flowers:

1. Trim the stems according to the height of the vase, but also the style of the design. 
2. Remove any leaves that hit below the opening of the vase. Leaves touching the water creates more bacteria in the water; therefore, shortening the lifespan of the flowers. 
3. Do not feel hesitant in removing the outer petals if they look wilted. The outermost flower petals are called guard petals since they protect the inner part of the flower. These and any other wilted petals can be removed. 

Before tackling any flower arrangement, consider the "style" and viewpoint of the design. The style will affect the type of flowers and greens she uses while the viewpoint affects the placement of the flowers as well as the overall shape of the design.

So many varieties of eucalyptus! 
There are three general styles that arrangements are categorized as. Either compact/modern, which is a structured look with hardly any greens or a wild and modern style that is a little more compact and has some greens to give it a wild look. The last and more common style I see in Vancouver is the wild look, which uses flowers and greens that are more textured with less structure. 

For viewpoint, the florist is conscious of where the flowers and greens are positioned.  An arrangement that will be in a middle of a dining table is going to be designed to be viewed from all around; however, if the flowers are going to be put in a corner, the back will only be greens as it is not going to be viewed from the back. 

I gravitated towards Garden Party Flowers’ arrangements as I love the aesthetic of the wild look and a lot of their work falls into that category. The Wild Look is a current trend for flower arrangements and I can only imagine it growing in popularity in Vancouver. I love the use of different types and interesting foliage layered with several varieties of flowers. There is a beautiful flow and story to a wild styled arrangement.

Cylindrical Vase | TAPE GRID

I was genuinely amazed by the number of stems Estefani managed to fit into this single arrangement. When designing in any vase, you begin with the base greenery followed by the more interesting foliage greens and lastly building layers by adding in the flowers, while keeping in mind where the focal point will be.
For this arrangement, we used Salal as the base green. Salal leaves are commonly used as a base green by florist because they give the arrangement lots of volume and help keep the flowers in place. After the Salal, she used a number of foliage greens beginning with beginning with three types of eucalyptus (seeded, dollar and feather), followed by an antique Hydrangea, Italian Ruscus and Sedum. I really liked the feather eucalyptus because it gave the arrangement a nice flow down the side of the vase. Unlike the base greenery, Salal, you get to be a lot more creative with the foliage placement and the shape of the arrangement starts to become visible.

The flowers are always the best part and what makes the arrangement pop! Estefani actually entrusted me with the task of selecting the flowers from the walk-in cooler; however, she eventually had to step in as I was marching out of the door with every single flower that I could manage to grab. Keeping with a white and pink colour palette, the final arrangement used Dahlias, Ranunculus, Garden Roses, Spray Roses, Lisianthus, Sedum, and Snapdragon.  

My all-time favourite flowers are peonies [so basic of me!]. Unfortunately, they are not in season at this time; however, when those voluptuous pink buds are in season, I basically go on a season long binge. Peonies are stunning and I can never get enough of them!

A good flower arrangement has balance and creates a flow for the viewer to follow with their eyes. This is achieved by using an odd number of stems for each type of flower or foliage. Some florists most commonly use three stems of the same kind of flower; however, for a more creative approach, it could be two stems of the same flower and one stem of a different flower. The three stems are placed within the vase in a triangle formation or a pentagon if five stems are used. 

By using an odd number of stems, it helps create layers within the arrangement and helps you determine the spaces and alignment of the where the next triad of stems should be placed. Estefani also focused on having the colours of the flowers contrast and complement each other. This is what makes floral arranging fun because it’s all about creating art piece and bringing it to life.

On a wide rimmed vase like the cylinder one used for this arrangement, florists will sometimes use a technique referred to as the grid taping. Using scotch tape, a simple grid is created over the opening of the vase. The goal is to create little spaces in which the stems can be slotted into. The grid helps keep the stems in place making it easier when making a floral arrangement. The florist also uses this to their advantage as they are able to position flowers at different angles and reposition the stems without shifting the rest of the design. Estefani recommends this for wider rimmed vases, as the smaller rimmed vases are able to hold the flowers in place themselves. 

Mason Jar 

The Mason jar is currently a huge trend for home decor and it would have been foolish of us to not use it for an arrangement. Unlike the cylindrical glass vase, the Mason jar is far shorter with a much smaller rim. To compensate for the smaller jar, Estefani excluded the base greenery, Salal, using only the more interesting foliage and flowers. The volume of the Salal would have overwhelmed the flowers in the small Mason jar. 

I always feel awful when I dismantle and discard parts of a gorgeous bouquet that a florist has worked hard to create, but ultimately, you want the flowers to be the focus with the unique foliage enhancing the design. As previously discussed, Estefani used an odd number of stems of each type of foliage and flower. Beginning with the foliage greens, she trimmed the stems to the height of where she wants them in the design by holding them up to the Mason jar at the angle she would be positioning the stem at. Therefore, the stems will not be all the same length; some will be short while others are longer this helps to create depth in the design.

From the three arrangements that Estefani created, the Mason jar was my favourite! Perhaps it is my inner blogger that is biased towards the Mason jar being used as a vase, but I think it had to do more with the overall aesthetic of the arrangement. The flowers stood tall and prominent while the foliage gave movement to the design. A good example is the feather eucalyptus and how it flowed down the side of the jar. A stunning example of the wild style by Estefani at Garden Party Flowers! 

The chicken wire helps keep the stems in place, but also increases surface area for more angled placement.
Scalloped Rimmed Pedestal Vase | CHICKEN WIRE

The pedestal vase with the scalloped edge rim was the most challenging vase Estefani used, but also happens to be her favourite, as she loves rustic unique vases. I learned a common florist's trick using chicken wire so the scalloped detail was not too obscured. Beginning with a small square of chicken wire, manipulate the piece into a dome that would fit snugly inside the vase thus increasing the surface area of the otherwise shallow vase. 

Unlike the Mason jar arrangement, where she created height by keeping the flowers and foliage upright, for this arrangement, Estefani took advantage of the chicken wire and positioned the stems at different angles. By having the flowers and foliage extend along the horizontal plane, you create an illusion of a fuller and larger arrangement. I loved the grandness of this design with the oval shape and strategic placement of the foliage and flowers. 

Remarkably, all three arrangements used the exact same flowers and foliage! Once we were done with the first cylindrical vase, we dismantled the arrangement and used the same stems for the next vase. Estefani is showed so much creativity by arranging three distinct designs from the exact same stems. 

When working with flowers, if you are unhappy with the placement of a stem, re-position it to a placement you like better. All florists do this at the end of every arrangement until they are content with the final look.  There is no one correct way when it comes to floral arrangements because it is a very subjective choice. 

I always want my flowers to retain their stunning beauty as long as possible. Garden Party Flowers suggest cleaning the vase and changing the water every two to three days, at this point it is also a good idea to re-cut the stems to keep them fresh. Another way to increase the lifespan of your flowers is to keep them in a cool environment. Flowers in a warmer environment, like by a heater or in direct sunlight, the opening of the buds is accelerated. 

It was such a pleasure to visit Garden Party Flowers' studio and getting to work with one of their many talented florists.  I honestly cannot wait to try and arrange my next bouquet in a vase using everything I learned. If there is anything else you are interested in learning in regards to flowers, leave it in the comments below! I know I want to learn how to make floral crowns and visit some local nurseries in the lower mainland, so let me know if you want more flowers! 


Monday 5 December 2016

I tried it | Lush Empties Part 2

As promised, part 2 of my Lush Empties review. Click here for part 1 where I talk about Sympathy for the Skin, Rosy Cheeks, Whoosh and Pot O' Gold.

Needles and Pines | Shower Jelly
This shower jelly smelled like I was standing outside in a pine needle forest on a cool winter day. The fresh scent really energized me in the morning. A great shower jelly scent and I most definitely will pick up another Needles and Pines in the future.

The Sacred Truth | Fresh Face Mask
I am going to be honest, I do not know how long I have had this empty tub because I frankly cannot remember a single thing about this fresh face mask! I decided to read up on The Sacred Truth mask on Lush's website and basically, the main ingredient is fresh papaya and is intended to be highly moisturizing thus recommended for dry skin types. Since I do not remember much about using the Sacred Truth, I have no opinion on this mask!

D'Fluff | Shaving Soap
I hate shaving partly because it is a tedious annoying task, but also I tend to always knick myself. D'Fluff helped make shaving a little better of an experience as it is not as messy as traditional shaving cream, but also lessened the number of cuts I gave myself. I probably will not re-purchase D'Fluff as I am not very fond of the candy strawberry smell.

Flowers from Garden Party Flowers
Cupcake | Fresh Face Mask
Over the many years of being Lush user, Cupcake still continues to remain my favourite Fresh Face Mask. I have accumulated four empty pots of Cupcake and reckon I will gather many more until Lush decides to discontinue this mask which I hope does not happen any time soon.

Those are all of my Lush empties - for 2016 at least! I will have my last product empties post on non-Lush brands published later this week.


Saturday 3 December 2016

Edible Obsessions | Ritual YVR

I had the most fabulous brunch this morning at Ritual, a hidden gem at the corner of Robson and Denman st. This adorable restaurant has been on my must visit list for quite some time, and I am so glad that I finally made it out to Ritual as the food was amazing. There is no doubt in my mind that I will be returning for more meals. 

For brunch, my friend and I were famished and basically ready to charge into the kitchen to eat whatever in sight. However, we decided to be civil and place our orders with the lovely server. I went with the Heuvos Rancheros (vegetarian with egg) while my friend opted for something sweet, Ritual's Banana's Foster Pancakes. 

The Heuvos Rancheros was fantastic and for something so simple, this dish was full of flavour. I was pleasantly surprised and could not believe how full it made me. I was struggling to finish the last few bites, and as much as I tried, I could not polish my plate off. That is how filling the Heuvos Rancheros was! The dish was also served with a slice of Ritual's Honey Corn Bread. I have had corn bread in the past, but Ritual's is probably my favourite as it had a great honey flavour, but I loved how the texture of the cornbread was crispy on the outside but soft on the inside. 

Unlike me who chose a savoury dish, my friend got Ritual's Banana Foster Pancakes. The pancakes were smothered in a delicious caramel bourbon sauce, topped with caramelized banana's and of course, a generous dollop of fresh whip cream. This too was very filing evident by my friends struggles at finishing the pancakes. I really liked their pancakes, they were light and fluffy and full of flavour. 

I am intrigued by Ritual's special event dinners and hope to check one out soon. That is what first got me interested in the restaurant. For those of you unfamiliar with Ritual, the restaurant hosts set menu dinners every so often. The menus for the events always look delicious and I am hoping they host a New Years one as I would love to go! 

Aside from the special dinners, I will most likely be dropping by for a normal dinner too! Let me know in the comments below if you have dined at Ritual and how you liked it? Also, what are some other restaurants I should eat at next?


Saturday 19 November 2016

I Tried It | Lush Empties Part 1

Since becoming a blogger, I have become somewhat of a hoarder with my empties because of my intention to do a product empties review. However, while cleaning my bathroom vanity last night, I realized just how many empty containers I have accumulated. Thus, I am splitting the reviews into three posts, two for lush and one on other brands.

Lush makes fabulous bath products, but I usually gravitate more towards their skincare. Lush is not for everyone as their products do have strong scents, though natural scents, can be bothersome to many. I avoid their bath products like their infamous bath bombs, since they contain quite a bit of colouring and fine glitter. After a bath, my bathtub would be covered in a film of oil and sparkles and no one wants to scrub a bathtub after a relaxing bath. Their skincare line has been a hit with me as they do not contain colourings and the scents are milder since it is the natural scent from the ingredients. 

Shower Jelly | Pot O Gold
I love Lush's shower jellies because they always leave me skin feeling squeaky clean. This one had a strong herbal scent and was glittery gold. I would not get it again for the scent but a good product. The Pot O Gold was a limited edition scent and is not available year round. 

Shower Jelly | Whoosh
Another shower jelly, but part of their year round collection. I really liked the scent of this shower jelly, a nice refreshing citrus to wake you up. 

Fresh Face Mask | Rosy Cheeks
Rosy cheeks is their priciest fresh face mask as it contains rose petals and rose water. A really nice rose scent and a blush pink colour. I had high hopes for this particular mask, but I found the formula to leave a chalky residue on my skin and also left my skin feeling parched. Would not buy again. 

Hand and Body Lotions | Sympathy for the Skin
I go back and forth between Lush's Sympathy for the Skin and Khiel's Creme de Corps. This lotion smells amazing, a mix of vanilla and banana, but not too overwhelming. I like this lotion for the warmer months as it is a very light lotion that soaks into the skin very quick. I actually had three empty black tubs of this cream; therefore, I really like it!!! I like using Creme de Corps during the dryer winter months as it is a much richer cream. Smells absolutely divine!!

The second part to Lush Empties as well as my review on other brands will be up soon. If there are any products you think I should try out, do let me know in the comments below. 


Thursday 10 November 2016

Gurly's Life | 23rd Birthday Brunch Bash at Belgard Kitchen!

23rd Birthday Brunch Bash at Belgard Kitchen
Two weeks ago, Tuesday, October 25, 2016, I turned twenty-three! The year has honestly just flown by and my birthday sort of just snuck up on me. I wanted to do something a little different for this birthday. In the past, I have primarily hosted nice dinners, but for this year, I held a brunch, a Birthday Brunch Bash at Belgard Kitchen in Railtown. Located in the stunning Settlement building, Belgard Kitchen shares the large space with Postmark Brewing. The two are divided by a gorgeous wall of oak barrels all the way to the magnificent high ceilings. 

The fabulous staff at Belgard Kitchen blew me away with their attention to detail. Upon my arrival, the general manager had the floral arrangements placed down the center of the long wooden table along with menus for all my guests. As soon as I sat down,the lovely server brought me a grapefruit infused glass of bubbly to kick off the brunch celebrations! 

I love planning events as I get to fulfill my own Pinterest dreams, so of course, I had to make this brunch a beautiful affair. I had three stunning wild styled arrangements designed by the talented florists at Garden Party Flowers. We decided to go with three different vases, a white milk glass hobnob jar as well as a clear glass hobnob jar and lastly the trendy mason jar. I asked to for white garden roses contrasted by bright pink dahlias as the main two flowers. The florist also added baby pink roses and white lisianthus to the arrangement and some gorgeous foliage to help give it a modern wild look. The flowers looked stunning and really brightened up the table. My friends could not stop taking pictures of them because they were just so pretty. As I am an October baby, I had to add a touch of fall by including some baby pumpkins to the centerpiece. Just flowers and mini pumpkins for a simple yet chic table decor. 

One of Three stunning floral arrangements by Garden Party Flowers
The most important detail for this Birthday Brunch Bash was the cake. I love pastries; therefore, my cake needed to not only look beautiful, but also taste incredible too. I entrusted this task to the talented pastry chefs at Cadeaux Bakery. I have had their London Fog cake numerous times and it has yet to disappoint me. I love the layers of fluffy chantilly creme infused with Earl Grey tea and the layer of decadent ganache for richness. Since I wanted the cake exterior to be finished with rosette piping, they had to use vanilla buttercream in place of their scrumptious chantilly creme as it would not hold the shape of the piping. The cake looked stunning, but next time, I think I will forgo the pretty rosettes for the more delicious chantilly creme. 

If you have been to Belgard Kitchen, you will know that their interior is a mix of rustic and chic. I decided to take inspiration from their use of wood in the space and called up my friends at Pacific Design Lab to see if they had any wood cake stands. We decided to go with an 8-inch round wood slice. It fit the venue perfectly! The cake was a 6-inch sponge, but with the outer frosting, it was more like a 7-inch; therefore, I probably will go with a 10-inch wood slice so more of the wood can be seen. But now I know! 

I have always wanted the super long and skinny birthday candles. I finally got my hands on some by Meri Meri and they looked super cool lit! I went with the pink to white ombre glitter set. The long candles also mean you can keep your candles burning for a longer period of time without worrying about wax getting on the cake. Since the candles are so long, they are intended to be reused for future celebrations. I wish I had realized this earlier as I actually forgot the candles at the restaurant because I definitely would have re-used them. 

I am sure you noticed in the pictures that there is a second birthday cake. That birthday cake was for one of my good friends as she also turned 23 a few days prior to me. I love birthdays; therefore, I could not leave her out of the celebrations. For her, I picked up Trafiq's newest and delicious creation, the tiramisu 10 layer cake. The flavour was on point and the cake itself looked stunning. The flavours between the cream and chocolate were well balanced and not overly sweet or chocolatey. I most likely will be getting this cake in the future for my friends and family. 

Planning aside, the food at Belgard Kitchen was really good. In fact, I am most certainly going to be returning for another brunch as well as dinner. I think we tried most of the items on the brunch menu. I had the Bread Pudding French Toast that was topped with blueberry compote, bourbon anglaise, pecan streusel and chantilly cream. I do not know how to describe it in words other than it is literally bread pudding turned french toast. You just have to try it to understand! The Railtown Breakfast Wrap was also a winner amongst my friends. The flat bread was stuffed with a fried egg, bacon, avocado, arugula, sprouts, pickled onion and hummus served with a  side of potatoes. I cannot have potatoes unless I have ketchup, so obviously I ordered some. It was really cool to see that Belgard Kitchen makes their own ketchup and it is a million times better than Heinz! You just have to order their ketchup! My friend thought it tasted like butter chicken, I thought it was the perfect tomato spread. We also had their Postmark Ale Sausage Skillet - crispy potatoes, roasted mushrooms + tomato, poached eggs, smokey onion + parmesan cream, grilled sourdough. From what my friends told me, it is a big piping hot skillet of comfort that will stuff you full. A good brunch item to have on a cold morning for sure!

Year 23 feels like it is going to be a good one. A busy one, but filled with lots of love and adventures. I wish all of you could have been there for my Birthday Brunch Bash. I wish I could plan more events like this because they are so much fun. If you want me to plan your birthday or celebration in Vancouver, give me a shout because I would love to! 


Monday 7 November 2016

Edible Obsessions | Brunch at Chambar

The Paella from Chambar
It should be apparent by now that I have an wavering love for all things Brunch. If there ever were a brunch festival, I would be there. Since brunch is primarily only available on the weekends, I make it a point to plan my day around brunch. For yesterday's Sunday brunch, a friend and I made our way to Chambar. I knew the food would be spectacular as Chambar's chef and co-owner, Nico Schuermans, once worked at a Michelin 3 star restaurant as well as many other renowned restaurants across the world. 

Chambar features a Belgium-focused menu with interesting new takes by Chef Schuermans. Interestingly, you will find many parallels between Chambar's menu and Cafe Medinas as the two restaurants were once one, only splitting back in 2014. I have been to Cafe Medina a fair number of times, but after trying Chambar, I wish the opposite were true!
The Fricasse from Chambar
For myself, I ordered the Paella (curried orzo topped with a fried egg, hot spanish chorizo, charred tomato salsa and pickled cilantro) which was served in a sizzling hot cast iron skillet. The Paella had an amazing depth of flavour and personally I found far better than Cafe Medina's version. By serving the Paella in the cast iron skillet, my meal remained warm till the very last bite. Also, the seasoning of the skillet only added to the Paella's flavour. I found myself forcing myself to finish every morsel of food despite how full I was because I could not let a single bite of this delicious Paella go to waste!

My friend went with the Fricasse, another Chambar favourite containing braised short ribs, balsamic cipollini onions, potatoes, watercress, fried eggs and applewood smoked cheddar. It too was served in a  cast iron skillet, but I would say not as pretty to look at haha. The sauce was divine and I could not help myself, but to dip some bread in it. Really great flavour, but according to my friend, the Paella was better. 

Fried Spiced Potatoes from Chambar
Between the two of us, we ended up sharing their Fried Spiced Potatoes. A brunch is just not a brunch unless there is some potato involved! Definitely try their potatoes because they will be some of the crispiest potatoes you will ever have. However, do bring your own ketchup because if you are like me, I need some good ol tomato sauce with my potatoes! Yes, I do judge a restaurant if they lack ketchup! I understand if a restaurant is opposed to the the bottled Heinz we have all grown to love; however, many restaurants will make their own in house ketchup like Belgard Kitchen and Timber. Therefore, there is no excuse for a restaurant to deny me my ketchup with my potatoes. 

Do check out Chambar's brunch and give their Paella a try! I was too stuffed to get their liege waffles, but I am sure they are fantastic! They have a huge selection of divine sauces to choose from. I cannot wait to head back to Chambar to try their lunch and dinner menus! 


Monday 31 October 2016

Iced Delights | Beta 5 Ice Cream Social 2016 Round up

Top to Bottome: Corn Blackberry | Piña Colada | Raspberry Earl Grey 
I am saddened that Beta 5 Ice Cream Socials have once again come to an end and we will all have to make it through the winter months sans delicious sundaes until spring 2017. As a faithful Beta 5 social attendee, I ate through 9 of the 15 sundaes this summer. There were some that I loved while others that just missed the mark for me. Here is a little round up of all the sundaes beginning with the first sundae, the Cherry Cola!

Cherry Cola | June 25, 2016

cherry stracciatella ice cream, cola sorbet, poached bing cherries, fizzy sour cherry cotton candy, vanilla chantilly

I missed out on the Cherry Cola Sundae! Sort of annoyed that I did since the sundae looked fabulous and I can only imagine how amazing it tasted. The presentation was fun with the pink cotton candy and it was great how the flavour mirrored one of their current cream puffs. 

Raspberry Earl Grey | July 1st

earl grey ice cream, raspberry swirl ice cream, fresh raspberry compote, raspberry earl grey macarons, vanilla chantilly, raspberry earl grey chocolate garnish 

Hands down, the Raspberry Earl Grey was one of my favourites from this summer. Cadeaux Bakery first got me to call in love with earl grey when I tried their London Fog cake. Pairing the classic tea with the tartness of fresh raspberries (which happens to be one of my favourite fruits!) made for one incredible flavour pairing. 

Blueberry Lemon | July 9th

blueberry-buttermilk ice cream, lemon ice cream, lemon curd doghnut holes, blueberry jam, vanilla chantilly

I found the lemon completely overpowered the blueberry, so after one bite of the lemon ice cream, I only tasted the strong lemon and nothing else. The lemon curd in the doughnut holes was very intense too. Would have been a great flavour combination of blueberry and lemon, but the two flavours needed to be balanced better. 

Mint Chocolate | July 16

fresh garden mint straciatella ice cream, 64% dark chocolate sorbet, mint chocolate macarons, peppermint patties, vanilla chantilly, chocolate sauce

I intentionally skipped the Mint Chocolate sundae because I remember having it last year and disliking the chocolate sorbet and peppermint patties very much. I do love mint straciatella ice cream, but did not want to just go for just a scoop of ice cream. 

S'more sundae | July 23rd

66% dark chocolate ice cream, ceylon cinnamon ice cream, graham cracker macarons, toasted marshmallows, vanilla chantilly, chocolate sauce

Oh how I wish I could have s'more of this sundae hehe. The ceylon cinnamon ice cream had a good depth of flavour and really balanced out the dark chocolate ice cream. Also, you can never go wrong with anything s'more inspired! They could make the marshmallows a little more gooey and toasted! 

Strawberry Olive Oil | July 30th 

olive oil ice cream, strawberry sorbet, funnel cake, macerated strawberries, vanilla chantilly, strawberry white chocolate curls 

When I heard that Beta5 was going to do strawberry funnel cake, I was reminded of childhood memories of enjoying this classic fair food at wonderland. Funnel cake is amazing and using it as a topping for this sundae was genius! It tasted so darn good, that it took every ounce of willpower to not go back for seconds! 

Honey Roasted Plum | August  

burnt honey and vanilla ice cream, santa rosa plum sorbet, honey roasted shiro plum, elephant heart plum jelly filled doughnuts, honeycomb crunch, vanilla chantilly 

Roasted plums are amazing in any dessert, so it was no wonder that this sundae was delicious! Beta 5's team used three different types of plum to giving you various plum flavours. The Santa Rose Plum sorbet was light and tangy while the honey roasted Shiro plum had just the right amount of sweetness along with tang. Elephant heart plums gave the jelly a deep red colour and refreshing fruity flavour. 

Peach Jasmine | August 13

floral jasmine green tea ice cream, white peach sorbet, poached peach, mochi, matcha ‘pocky’ sticks, vanilla chantilly 

I ended up missing this sundae, but can only imagine how delicious the jasmine green tea ice cream was. Anything matcha is a win for me! Also, you can never go wrong with poached peaches in a dessert. 

coconut ice cream, pineapple sorbet, piña colada macarons, fresh pineapple compote, tropical fruit caramel, coconut chantilly 🍨

I actually won the Beta5 photo contest for my piña colada sundae picture; therefore, there is a little bias towards this sundae hehe. It was a heat wave in Vancouver, so I remember this sundae made me feel like I was sitting on a beach in Hawaii. The icy pineapple sorbet was refreshing and paired well with the more subtle and creamier coconut ice cream. Also, how cute is the chocolate coconut! 

Corn Blackberry | August 27

‘sweet jubilee’ corn ice cream, blackberry ripple ice cream, corn and blackberry jam sandwich cookies, corn flake granola, corn caramel, aerated caramelized white chocolate, corn flake chantilly, fresh blackberries

I was intrigued when Beta 5 announced their next sundae would feature a vegetable, corn. I often associate ice cream with fruits and chocolate, not vegetables so I was curious to see how corn will work in one of my favourite iced confections. Unfortunately, I found the corn to be very overpowering and the ice cream felt as though it coated the inside of my mouth in a not so pleasant way. I could barely taste the blackberry and could not manage to get past the strong corn taste. Frankly, I did not even finish this sundae - SHOCKER!

Melon | September 3

watermelon sorbet, frozen yogurt, fresh salad of local cantaloupe, galia melon and watermelon, aerated mint chocolate, waffle cone shards, vanilla chantilly 

Since I am allergic to cantaloupe and honey dew, I gave this sundae a pass. During the summer months, watermelon is one my favourite fruits to eat and I can only imagine how refreshing the watermelon sorbet would be! Also, who does not like frozen yogurt?! 

Mango Bubble Tea | September 10

milk tea ice cream, mango sorbet, tapioca pearls, fresh mango compote, Japanese milk bread toast, condensed milk chantilly

AHHHHHHHHH MANGO BUBBLE TEA SUNDAE! My favourite sundae from this year's Beta5 ice cream social! Firstly, Mango all time favourite fruit of mine. Secondly, Beta5 does the most authentic tasting milk tea ice cream I have ever tasted. Fresh mango cubes with japanese bread toast all drizzled with condensed milk.... I would seriously question your sanity if you did not like this sundae haha. 

Black Sesame Grape | September 17

black sesame ice cream, coronation grape sorbet, black sesame, peanut and grape macarons, coronation grape sponge cake, black sesame snap, vanilla chantilly 

I missed this sundae; however, Beta5 did have this exact same flavour combination last year. Black Sesame gives the ice cream a savoury taste; yet, still stays sweet. It is a tough flavour to explain, so it is something you need to just try. 
The black sesame's mild savoury flavour pairs extremely well with the more robust coronation grape sorbet. At first, black sesame will seem a little odd, but it will quickly win you over. 

Butter Beer | September 24

chocolate stout ice cream, butterscotch ripple ice cream, chocolate wand casting a cotton candy spell, feathers of owl, wizard’s hat, chocolate cake, vanilla chantilly

I was outraged that I missed the Butter Beer Sundae. I was mortified and threw a huge fit when I realized I would be missing this glorious Harry Potter sundae due to work commitments. I am not exaggerating when I say I cried that night.... yup, I feel as though I have failed as a Potter fan. I can only imagine how magical the chocolate stout and butterscotch ripple ice cream tasted. If only I had Hermione's time turner and could be at two places at once. Please Beta5, fulfill my wishes and bring back the Butter Beer Sundae for 2017's ice cream social.

Birthday Bash | October 1

chocolate straciatella ice cream, fior di latte ice cream, chocolate cake crumble, chocolate sauce, tahitian vanilla bean birthday candle, vanilla chantilly 

The last Beta5 sundae was the Birthday Bash in celebration of their 5th anniversary. The chocolate straciatella ice cream was creamy chocolatey goodness and I liked how the chocolate pieces were wafer thin; therefore, not overpowering the ice cream itself. The fior de late was on point. Every ice cream flavour begins with the simple fior de latte base. Beta5 is always so creative with their garnishes, so I was a little surprised to see that they kept it very boring for their big 5 year bash. Just pieces of coloured chocolate, chocolate syrup and chocolate cake crumbles. Just a very lackluster presentation when compared to their past creations. 


That is the end of the 2016 Beta 5 Ice Cream Social Round Up! It was a fabulous summer full of delicious sundaes. My first pick would be the Mango Bubble Tea sundae closely followed by the Raspberry Earl Grey Sundae. The biggest disappointment would be the Corn Blackberry. Though a very beautiful sundae to look at, the flavours were very unbalanced and the corn was so overpowering that I could not manage to finish the entire sundae. 

For 2017, I really hope they bring back the Butter Beer as well as the Mango BBT, Raspberry Earl grey and Strawberry Olive Oil. Other flavours that I would like to see would be something with orange, tiramisu, lychee and spiced chocolate! 

Let me know in the comments below if you attended any of the Beta 5 Ice Cream Socials and which one was your favourite. Also what flavours would you like to see for 2017?