Saturday 28 January 2017

Latte Moment | Happy Lunar New Year

Happy Lunar New Year everyone! I usually do not get so excited about the Lunar New Year; however, this year, happens to be my year - the year of the ROOSTER! Ca-cka-dee Ca-cka-doo! Which also means I will be turning 24 this year... the years are just flying by!

I try to find any excuse I can to have delicious treats, so I put in an order at Beta 5 Chocolates for their Lunar New Year Mandarin Cream Puffs. These adorable creampuffs contained fresh mandarin orange curd, rice pudding mousse and a piece of almond-butter cake. The puffs were decorated to look like a freshly picked mandarin orange with still its stem and leaf intact.

Flavour wise, the mandarin curd was phenomenal and complimented the more subtle creamy rice pudding mousse. Being Indian, I am very familiar with the dessert rice pudding, so personally, I think it could have had more aromatic spices as it was a little one note. However, again that is coming from someone who has had a lot of rice pudding in their life. One thing I liked about this cream puff is that it was not as heavy as it did not feature a large amount of chantilly creme as their other cream puffs.

Fingers crossed for a fun and exciting year ahead for me! It is my year, and I am going to live it up!


Edible Obsessions | 2017 Hot Chocolate Festival

Hot chocolate festival returns for another year, and I am so excited to try all of the new creations that pastry chefs have concocted for 2017. I decided to start with Chez Christophe and their Tropical Storm as I was intrigued by the pictures in my Instagram feed. A deep rich dark chocolate cocoa is given a cheeky presentation to resemble three egg yolks.

However, do not fret, the "egg yolks" are actually dollops of spiced pineapple gel on a coconut marshmallow. As the coconut marshmallow melted, it made for some creamy sips with notes of fruity tang from the pineapple gel. I would definitely make the 30 minute drive again to have another cup of this delicious hot chocolate from Chez Christophe!

I visited 49th Parallel next in search of their "2001 A Space Odyssey," a rich Aztec-spiced hot chocolate. I appreciated 49th Parallel not holding back and really delivered on the bold spice flavour. The hot chocolate was accompanied by two cinnamon sugar churros with a creamy dark chocolate dipping sauce. The churros had great flavour and were very moist; however, my only complaint would be that they were served cold. With a warm hot chocolate, a warm churro would have gone much better.

I most likely will be returning 49th Parallel to try their second hot chocolate flavour, a white chocolate coconut served with a milk chocolate coconut rough.

Let me know in the comments below which hot chocolate flavour from this years' festival is your favourite!


Thursday 26 January 2017

Edible Obsessions | Ritual Dine Out 2017

Warm Beet Salad - Ritual Dine Out 2017
Dine Out Vancouver is every foodie's favourite three weeks of the year where we get the perfect excuse to head out and eat delicious food. Ever since that day I had brunch at Ritual, I have been dying to head back and what better time than during Dine Out. Ritual's three course dinner menu was $40 per person, so it was on the pricier scale of Dine out restaurants. 

Nightshade - Ritual Dine Out 2017
For starters, I went with their Pemberton grown warm beat salad on a bed of wild greens and house ricotta. Their house ricotta was so creamy and fresh, that I could eat it everyday with some fresh berries! My friend decided on the peculiarly named appetizer, Nightshades. The dish consisted of butter seared potato pave, layered eggplant and a delicious tomato emulsion. I decided to do a quick google search because the name is bizarre, but apparently Nightshades are fruits and vegetables from the Solanaceae plants which include but not limited to potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes and peppers.     I snuck a few bites from her plate, the potatoes and sauce was delicious, but the eggplant was a little weird; however, I also tend to not like eggplant. 

Hand Formed Winter Squash Ravioli - Ritual Dine Out 2017
For the entree, I had a hard time deciding between the cumin roasted chicken served with tabbouleh, cilantro yogurt and einkorn risotto and the hand formed winter squash ravioli. I ended up choosing the latter, and really enjoyed the semolina pasta garnished with roasted spiced pears, shaved amaretto and pecorino. My senses were definitely a little confused at times as I have never had a savoury pasta topped with sweet cubes of pear and shaved amaretto. Also, how did the chefs at Ritual turn a liquid drink, amaretto, into a sweet solid powder?! 

Boneless Short Ribs - Ritual Dine Out 2017
My friend chose the third entree option, the boneless short ribs. According to her, the short ribs were amazing and were served with smoked mash potatoes (yes, I stole a bite!) foraged mushrooms and organic vegetables. The plating was stunning and at one point my friend had to tell me to stop taking pictures and let her eat already! My ravioli was no where near as stunning in plating design. Just flat one toned, so you cannot blame me. 

Mister Tally Man - Ritual Dine Out 2017
The most important part of any meal is the dessert and it was a tough decision because we could only have two of the three dessert options! What a travesty! Eventually we settled on the Mister Tally Man - caramelized banana, dark chocolate mousse, spiced rum cake and potato chips - and the Apple + Honeycomb - cardamom ice cream, and toffee sauce. The rum cake was moist with a deep rum flavour that complimented the caramelized banana. I was not too found of the dark chocolate mousse and potato chips, just a weird flavour combination to throw in with the banana rum. The second dessert, Apple + Honey, was my favourite of the two! The apples were very thinly sliced and only cooked just enough to be softened, but not mushy. Together with the creamy delicious toffee sauce, it was like eating apple pie! Also, it is very rare to be served actual honey comb, so I was really excited to have it in my dessert! 

Apple + Honey - Ritual Dine Out 2017
What an amazing start to Dine Out 2017! Both my friend and I were so stuffed, that we had to take a little walk along Robson street to digest our meals. 


Saturday 21 January 2017

Chic Finds | Aesop Camellia Nut Facial Hydrating Cream

I am very particular about which skincare products I use on my face. I have acne prone skin and it is really frustrating when you are a young adult and still get acne. I used to be a faithful L'occitane user; however, the company constantly discontinues, re-formulates and launches new products. Therefore, if you were like me and had a skincare routine, chances are, the next time you go to re-stock your favourite facial moisturizer, it will no longer be available. 

I needed a new facial cream and I was not about to fall in love with another L'occitane product only to learn it has been discontinued a few months down the road. I had walked past the Aesop boutique a number of times in Gastown and have popped in and tried a sample of a few of their products too. The first time I tried one of their products was their hand soap in the Birds & the Beets bathroom and let me tell you, I wanted to go back and re-wash my hands over and over again. 

I tried out a few different formulations of their facial creams in store, but it was the Camellia Nut Hydrating Cream that I fell in love with. I have been using it for a few weeks now and it has been with every single penny. Aesop products are definitely on the pricier end of the spectrum, so I am relieved that it did not disappoint. The higher price tag comes from the use of cold pressed oils. The extraction process ensures the vitamins and basically the good stuff remains in the oil after being extracted from the Camellia Nut. 

The cream is a pale yellow with a beautiful natural fragrance that is not too over powering. I prefer unscented skincare products; however, since it is the scent from the ingredients used, I do not mind it. The texture is light and creamy that soaks into your skin without leaving a sticky greasy feeling. There is nothing worse than using a cream that leaves your skin feeling oily. My skin feels healthy and hydrated from just using this cream for only a few weeks. I no longer get dry spots on my cheeks which is common for me during the winter months. 

I most definitely will be picking up more Aesop products in the future. I really want to try their Mandarin Facial Hydrating cream as I love anything citrus, so I can only imagine how divine the Mandarin cream will smell. Also, I find citrus notes really energizes an individual so would be perfect for waking me up in the mornings. 

Let me now in the comments below if you have any Aesop product recommendations!


Saturday 14 January 2017

Chic Life | Pineapple Plant


I completely forgot about this pineapple plant that had I come across last summer at the Cross Design boutique in Yaletown. I knew pineapples grew from a ground plant, but this was the first time I actually got to see one in person. It was super cute and definitely still a baby pineapple. I wonder if the same plant will produce another pineapple the following year? Either way, if The Cross Designs has another one of these plants this year, I think I am going to bring it home with me!

Also, lets not forget how huge of a trend pineapples were in 2016! You could not go a block without seeing something related to pineapples. Whether it was pineapple smoothies at a restaurant or pineapple adorned pillows at a boutique. I think the pineapples are here to stay in 2017 because I am still seeing pineapple patterned items for sale. 

It is actually really neat to see a fruit being so trendy. I wonder what will replace pineapples as the next big fad? Perhaps kale? I hope not!


Saturday 7 January 2017

Geek Latte | 2016 Instagram Best Nine + Growing your Insta in 2017

Best Nine 2016 @pinktealatte Instagram pictures

It is no secret that my favourite social media platform is Instagram. I am a highly visual individual and have an interest in photography; therefore, Instagram happens to be a good fit for me! 2016 whizzed by really quick, so I love scrolling back through my Instagram to see all the adventures and memories I have made. Thank you to all my lovely followers and readers for all of the love and encouragement you have given more over the years! Instagram would not be as fulfilling if it were not for all your kind words and interest. I always giggle in excitement when one of you leaves me a comment on a picture because it gives me an opportunity to reply back to you! 

Looking back on the year 2016, there was a HUGE controversy in regards to Instagram altering their algorithm which unfortunately changed our feeds from chronological order to what the computer "thinks" is the images we will like most to show at the top of our feed. Personally, I liked the chronological feed as it did not favour some accounts over others; therefore, everyone had the opportunity to be at the top of their followers' feeds. The search browse tab could be as algorithm heavy as it wants as I am wanting to see content that interests me, but not my feed because of course I am interested in all those pictures because that is why I follow those accounts! I hate how my feed now tells me what pictures are more better and so sometimes I see the same few accounts I follow and do not get to see pictures by other users. 

Did the algorithm affect engagement of @pinktealattte ?
I certainly did see a drop in engagement once the algorithm kicked in. There was a small decrease in the number of likes on the new pictures I uploaded and I also saw the number of comments also dip. Also, when someone new follows @pinktealatte, they are less likely to see my images at the top of their feed as they have not been engaging with my content as much as their prior followings, thus new followers does not necessarily correlate with increase of engagement. 

I hope Instagram gives us the option to change our feeds to either chronological order or what the algorithm depicts we like more. The chronological order was unbiased and is what I prefer. 

Stepping away from the drama that Instagram sparked in 2016, it is really neat to see which pictures garnered the most engagement from my audience. It is also a really great way to see what type of content my followers want to see more of in 2017!

Going from Left to Right, Row by Row:

1. The big winner of 2016 was Lucky's Doughnuts' Coconut Bismarck with the beautiful toasted meringue swirl. Beautiful food is a guaranteed win on Instagram, but I also think me shooting the picture from eye level gave a different perspective. It also works well with this doughnut because it lends itself to be photographed well from this angle. 

2. Big leaf at Capitano Suspension Bridge. A lot of my followers are Vancouverites and we LOVE the outdoors, so this resonates with us all. 

3. Stacked Earnest Pints. I have no clue as to why this picture did well. I am just going to assume Earnest is just something Vancouverites really like and so it is the brand that pushed this simple picture to third place. 

4. Paella by Chambar. This Paella was the BEST Paella I have ever had and a beautiful plate of food will always speak to everyone. 

5. Garden Party Flowers from my Birthday. This picture for me falls under the "lifestyle" category. I have a lot more pictures like this planned for 2017, so I am happy to see my audience enjoys them!

6. Pastry from Thierry. This pastry is so darn delicious to eat and equally if not more beautiful to look at. 

7. Beta 5 Ice Cream Sundae. This is the fifth and final food image out of my top nine. Is it fair to say I love food and we all love food, so no duh I am going to keep posting pictures of mouth watering food!

8. Mini pumpkins on Pacific Design Lab Wood slice. This picture has a lot of balance and as human beings, we find balance beautiful. I like this image because it is simple yet striking. 

9. ME grabbing the rainbow mural! I am glad you guys like me too! Haha, but I think the gorgeous mural is what really caused people to gravitate towards this image. 

Findings? Conclusion?
  • 5/9 Beautiful mouthwatering food! Can never go wrong with some delicious food!
  • 2/9 Branding. Earnest and Lucky's Doughnuts I believe were huge factors for these pictures. Going with the norm and being a part of the current trends is going to strike interest from your followers.
  • 2/9 Beautiful backgrounds. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is a stunning backdrop for captivating pictures while the Rainbow Mural is just beautiful and has been Instagrammed by numerous Vancouverites. 
  • 2/9 Lifestyle! Pink Tea Latte is a lifestyle blog and brand; therefore, it is awesome to see that I have followers who like seeing lifestyle pictures. 
I cannot wait to see what I photograph in 2017. Everyday my photography skills are improving and I am only just starting to find my "style" of photography. There is still going to be lots of food, pretty backgrounds and lifestyle pictures, but I also hope to see my photography evolving into my own style! 

Would love to hear in the comments below what you think of my top nine 2016 Instagram pictures. Also, what more do you think I should shoot? 


Tuesday 3 January 2017

Edible Obsessions | Beta 5 Snowman

Beta 5 makes some of the most delicious cream puffs that I have ever had in my life. Now they have gone ahead and made their pastries extra cute by releasing this limited quantity adorable Snowman Cream Puff! I do not know for how long these cute winter themed creations are available, but I am sure you can call ahead and place an order. I just tried my luck by heading over around opening time and had no problem getting one, but they do sell out quick. Last I checked, there is even a 2 snowmen per person limit to ensure one person does not hoard all of them. 

The top puff is filled with mandarin jelly and vanilla custard while the bottom cream puff is light milk chocolate and chestnut mousse cream. Of the two flavours, the mandarin jelly and vanilla custard was my favourite as I love citrus flavours and you can never go wrong with a good vanilla custard which Beta 5 always nails. 

He is completely edible, his top hat is made from milk chocolate coloured black and his coal buttons are crispy chocolate balls. I do not know what his carrot nose was made from, but it tasted like fondant to me. I also believe the puffs were dipped in white fondant. 

I wish I picked up more than one snowman because he was delicious! Gosh, that sounds creepy! Maybe I will be able to get one more before Beta 5 discontinues them until next winter. 


Monday 2 January 2017

Gurly's Life | Back from my short blogging hiatus + Photography Posts

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope this year is super awesome for all of us! I have a good feeling about 2017 and have a lot of fun and exciting things planned for the year ahead. 

I am back from my short little hiatus from blogging and hope everyone had a splendid holidays. December was ridiculously busy for me, so I needed to take a step back from Pink Tea Latte and try to manage not only my work commitments, but also family and friends holiday gatherings. Not to mention also finding a little bit of down time for myself to maintain some sanity. 

With the start of a new year, it feels like the perfect time to announce that I will be publishing photography centred posts. Blogging was a great way for me to express myself through creative writing, but I never imagined Pink Tea Latte would lead to a new passion for me, photography. Early in 2016, I invested in a Nikon D5500, my first ever DSLR and mid way through the year, I decided to add the Nikkor 50mm lens to my photography gear. 

I am hoping to publish the photography DSLR posts once a week, each focused on an aspect of manual photography. Please do note that I am NOT a professional, but a hobbyist  photographer and merely sharing what I wish I had known about capturing beautiful images on manual mode. I will also be interviewing a few of my favourite local photographers and sharing their work with you! I am super excited for that and also will be discussing photo gear! 

If there is anything in particular you would like me to touch on for DSLRs, please do leave it in the comments below.