Tuesday 26 September 2023

IDS Vancouver 2023 | An Exhibition of Beautiful Objects

For most September is synonymous with the start of school, but I relate September with IDS Vancouver. The Interior Design Show (IDS) Vancouver celebrates craftsmanship and creativity. There is an emphasis on being bold with colour, shape and materials. There is nothing "basic bitch" about IDS Vancouver. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find anything as boring as the Carrara marble or neutral white colour palette sofas. IDS Vancouver 2023 did not disappoint with its lineup of Canadian artisans, woodworkers, fabricators and designers. 

There were three Canadian Artisan brands which captivated me and I hope to someday own pieces by them. Man & Son Design (a lighting house), Le Tenon & La Mortaise (wood furniture), and Cory Michah Olsen (Stone nested wood objects).

The lighting fixture display by Man & Son Design was like a warm inviting hug which was hard not to be drawn to. Based out of Victoria, the female duo hand turns every piece of wood into gorgeous shapes for their various lighting fixtures. Their pieces are made from reclaimed wood making each grain and colour unique. They offer pendant lights, sconces and desk lamps.

Thursday 14 September 2023

Halal Guys is Not Worth the Hype

Vancouver always seems to gets missed by large popular brands. Vancouver is a major city on the west coast of Canada and often ranks as one of the most expensive cities to live in the world and yet we are never worthy of being a brands first location. Not to throw shade, but how is it that the prairie cities beat us out for iconic eateries time and time again? So when a popular chain decides to finally grace us with their presence, we embrace it with much fan fare and pomp and circumstance as possible. The anticipation of eating the much-touted Halal Guys meant my expectations were incredibly high. It pains me to say this, but The Halal Guys is a hard pass from me. 

For years I have heard stories of The Halal Guys being New York City's favourite Donair brand. With lines snaking around the block, hungry patrons are willing to wait for the perfect platter of meat, rice, and vegetables all doused in the Halal Guys' signature "White Sauce" and "Hot Sauce." A great Donair is defined by the protein which is often a juicy slowly roasted chicken or beef.   

The first red flag should have been that The Halal Guys do not cut their meat to order. Instead, the meat is sliced and layered into a giant sheet tray where it is held hot for what could be hours. There are three protein options: Beef, Chicken and Falafel. The Beef and Chicken looked grey in colour and completely devoid of any sign of seasoning or herbs. Downright insulting to the meat! I had the Falafel which were good, but nothing to rave about. 

My friends decided to put the Chicken and Beef to the test, but as I suspected, no seasoning therefore zero flavour. The meat was dry and overall unpleasant. The protein was arranged on a bed of rice. At first glance, I mistook the rice for shredded carrots because the rice is bright orange red in colour. I have never seen rice that shade of colour before and it was brutally spicy. My guess is that the rice was literally cooked in hot sauce hence taking on that crazy bright orange shade of colour. Iceberge lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and black olives were added raw with no salad dressing. You are given the option of adding their famous "white sauce" and "hot sauce" which I happily asked for a generous portion of. 

I swear, the whole reason I was excited about Halal Guys was for their infamous "White Sauce." Apparently the sauce is so incredible that Halal Guys sells it in giant pouches! I resisted googling the white sauce, so I had zero idea what the condiment would taste like. 

The White Sauce has zero flavour. I Repeat: zero flavour. It adds a creaminess to the donair, but no flavour. The White Sauce is a total scam! I tried it on its own. I tried it with the food. I could not detect any possible hint of flavour. Now that I have tried it, I asked Google for more concrete answers on what the Halal Guys White Sauce flavour profile should be. Scanning through multiple sites, white sauce is a combination of mayonnaise and yogurt. Those are fairly neutral in flavour, so I am not wrong for finding the white sauce devoid of all flavour. 

The portion sizes are massive, but for fast casual food, I found it incredibly expensive. I want to say with tax, the total came out to $18! For $18 I wanted to enjoy my food and finish it, but instead, I found myself pushing it around the container to avoid another bite. 

In summary, I was excited for Halal Guys but instead, I was duped and left feeling cheated and now shoot them angry looks whenever I pass by the Vancouver location. 


Wednesday 13 September 2023

Mental Health Break because Blogging is Hard

I am back! I have missed writing creatively and the enjoyment I get from expressing myself through words. Being away from my blog has left a huge void in my life. I took a few months break to focus on things happening in my personal life, but I also just needed a break. After all, Pink Tea Latte has been going steady for 7 years!

Blogging is something I do in my free time and has been a pure labour of love. Compensation for my blogposts has been few and far between, so I never really made any money from Pink Tea Latte. Instead, I invested a lot of my own money into this website. Most of the events, activities and restaurants I have visited are paid for completely by me. Needless to say, Pink Tea Latte is not a revenue stream for me and I do not anticipate it changing in the future. 

I blog simply because I enjoy it. I prefer to use my free time creating unique and original content versus mindlessly scrolling on my phone. I am proud of Pink Tea Latte, but in these past few years, traditional word-based bloggers have become overshadowed by social media influencers. In fact, nothing gets me more riled up and annoyed like seeing an Instagramer or TicToker call themselves a blogger. A picture or 15 second video does not make you blogger because to be a blogger, you need to WRITE original content or articles which are then published on a website. 

Content catering to short attention spans and delivering instant gratification has become the gold standard. Anything that requires more than 30 seconds of focus has become a tough sell. I never want to be chasing views, but it is hard not to feel discouraged when the numbers begin to drop. 

My inbox is no longer filled with exciting event opportunities as companies shift their marketing approach to focus on social media content creators. It is hard not to feel rejected. I was no longer excited to write because I was too worried about if the content is the "correct" content. 

Being a blogger for 7 years has taken a toll on me. In addition to financial, being a blogger is a massive time commitment. The words do not write theirselves. If I am not in the correct headspace, I find it incredibly difficult to write. Editing the pictures takes up the biggest amount of my time. I love my DSLR and taking pictures with it. What I do not like is editing the pictures because it requires a lot of focus and work from me. With the amount of time I need to commit to being a consistent blogger felt like I was working a part time job in addition to my full time job. I simply had become mentally and physically exhausted! 

Putting in so much time and effort compounded by the decrease in readers just had me feeling drained. I always told myself I would only blog if it is fun for me. I was no longer having fun and instead found myself stressing out about posting more captivating content. 

Taking these few months off from blogging and social media has been incredibly refreshing. I no longer feel compelled to pull out my camera at every restaurant I dine at or activity I do. Instead, I focus on being in the present and enjoying myself. It is embarrassing to admit that I did live the "Camera Eats First" lifestyle, but I am now a reformed blogger! 

I am excited to be writing on Pink Tea Latte again. I have had a lot of time to think during my months off. I am going to do a lot things differently. I am going to focus on having fun while blogging. 


Thursday 11 May 2023

Festa Della Polenta 2023 at Di Beppe Gastown

Italy is not going to happen for me anytime soon because European travel is not cheap! Flights, hotels and spending add up quick, so I have to live out my Italian food dreams in Vancouver. I already love dining at Di Beppe and constantly think about their carbonara with spaghetti because it is so good! This year, I thought I would check out their annual Festa della Polenta. 

Prior to this, I never paid much attention to polenta. Originating from Northern Italy, polenta is typically a coarsely ground cornmeal. Festa della Polenta dates back more than 400 years and continues to be celebrated across Italy each year! Polenta was offered by nobility to hungry townspeople during the famine and has become an annual event across Italy for friends and families come together around the table

To encourage conversation with other diners, Festa della Polenta at Di Beppe is served family style. My friend and I were seated with two other couples with whom we shared fabulous laughs and conversations a plenty all evening long. It was a refreshing change because it is no secret that Vancouverites are not the most approachable of people. In fact, it is a well known fact that making friends in Vancouver is TOUGH. Perhaps Vancouverites need to be pushed out of their comfort zone more and sadly we might need restaurant businesses facilitate it for us by doing communal table dinner services. 

I also loved my outfit from the night. I wore high-waisted black denim with black loafers, brown belt, green & white striped sweater and a lilac-coloured coat. Pulled half my hair back in a claw clip. Simple, easy and comfortable. 

Friday 7 April 2023

The Body Shop Metrotown Changemakers' Workshop

The Body Shop is leading the conversation of sustainability, ethically sourced ingredients and waste reduction with its Changemakers' Workshop concept stores. The Metrotown Burnaby location has recently reopened as the newest Changemakers' Workshop concept shop. I had the opportunity for a 1 on 1 tour to learn more about the space and its products. 

I had no idea what a "Concept Store" was, so I turned to Google for answers: a selection of products, services and experiences encompassing a concept. My guess was a model store for what future retail spaces would look like, but eh, this is why we have Google! The Changemakers' Workshop concept stores are a space to foster a relationship with the community it serves in addition to continuing to educate consumers on sustainability. The Body Shop Burnaby team partnered with local eco-organization, PECO and together created an original piece of art from collected trash and empty product containers. 

Thursday 6 April 2023

Maenam Thai Food for Lunch

With an ingredient driven menu featuring the freshest ingredients, Maenam never fails to bring the flavour with Thai food. Maenam has mastered traditional favourites like Pad Thai, various curries and roti. Opening in 2009, Maenam had been a dinner focused restaurant, but has recently expanded their meal service to lunch. The team always goes above and beyond to create memorable moments for their patrons and have collected numerous awards, accolades and most recently the Bib Gourmand Award from the Michelin Guide. 

If it were up to me, I would have Maenam's Pad Thai daily because I love the sweet, tangy, savoury flavour combination. I can devote an entire blogpost to their Pad Thai, but it would be remiss of me to not mention their other food offerings as well as their stellar cocktail program. 

Sunday 2 April 2023

Springtime Hail in Vancouver


Sunny blue skies, blooming flowers and unexpected hail storms are all the makings of a great Spring in Vancouver! It has been months of gloomy wet grey days in Vancouver, so I speak for everyone when I say I want sunshine! I am starved for sunshine. It is downright cruel that Vancouver teased us with a handful of sunny days only to turn our weekend icy and cold. 

I struggle with anxiety and cold grey days exponentially worsen how I feel. Sunshine instantly lifts my mood and gives me a boost in energy to be productive. Considering my full-time job involves working indoors in a windowless negative pressure lab, I look forward to getting outdoors on my weekends. It has been a long cold and grey winter, so is it really too much to ask for sunshine in April? The Cherry Blossom Festival is kicking off in Vancouver today, but now the delicate sakura petals are going to be destroyed by the harsh icy hail. We all look forward to the Cherry Blossoms turning Vancouver pink, but nobody wants to walk the cherry blossom tree-lined streets while getting soaked by heavy rain and ice. I did not realize just how angry and upset I am until I began typing out this post because my plans to picnic underneath a Sakura tree is officially cancelled because of the horrible weather. 

Thursday 16 February 2023

Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival 2023

Vancouver may be devoid of all things fun - ahem cancelled New Year's fireworks - but we do make up for it with our food festivities. As 2023 starts to unfold, so begins the 13th annual Greater Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival boasting 65 establishments collectively pouring up 145 unique hot chocolates! 

The Hot Chocolate Festival used to have a small number of participating restaurants making it feasible for me to try nearly all of the hot chocolate creations. As the years have gone on, the Hot Chocolate Festival has grown exponentially and now include several of my personal favourite establishments that I like to frequent year round. 

Another factor restricting me from trying more is the pricing for the hot chocolates. I want to try as many as I can, but the exorbitant pricing for a single hot chocolate has me and others rethinking it. Normally in Vancouver, hot drinks like hot chocolates, lattes, mochas etc would never be more than $7 and that is on the expensive end. For the festival, I found the average pricing was in the $12 range with some going up to $16! That is madness! Sure you can argue that the are served with a treat, but a single small chocolate or tiny donut hole or miniature cupcake is still a major stretch. The insane pricing has been voiced by many Vancouverites this year and I do hope that in the future, participants will reconsider and not price gouge us. 

There were so many hot chocolates I wanted to try, but sadly I was only able to make it to three. I tried The Federal Store, 49th Parallel and Fufu Cafe. I wish I got to visit Whisk as they had a wonderful matcha hot chocolate because we all know I love matcha! 

The Federal Store | The Sasha Velour 

Tucked within a Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, the Federal Store has become a cafĂ© that has won my heart with its incredible bakery case, particularly the cupcakes! I even celebrated my 29th birthday with their Roasted Strawberry Cake. 

As soon as I heard the name for this hot chocolate, I instantly knew it would be rose flavoured.
The Sasha Velour is a direct nod to the iconic moment from Rupaul's Drag Race in which Sasha Velour sent viewers screaming as she pulled off her wig to reveal a cascade of red rose petals.  

The 66% Valrhona Caraibe Hot Chocolate is infused with cardamom pods and the delicate flavour of rose. The hot chocolate is served with a cardamom sugar rim and a massive cube of pink-hued rose petal marshmallow. Accompanying the Sasha Velour is miniature rose milk chocolate cupcake. 

Rose is a strong flavour and the Federal Store team did not shy in their use, but I love rose water, so I was happy to warm up with the floral spiced hot chocolate. The hot chocolate was not overtly sweeet which can be tricky when using white or milk chocolate. I personally love a rich deep dark chocolate, but in this case, the Federal Store could not have gone with a darker chocolate as it would have masked the delicate undertones of rose. Hard to wrong with a homemade marshmallow and it only made the drink creamier as it melted. I have always loved their cupcakes and the rose chocolate is one of their regular flavours that I have enjoyed on many occasions. 

49th Parallel | Florals and Spice

Many people do not know that you can get amazing hot chocolate from 49th Parallel year round. The Main Street location of 49th Parallel has a special device that warms and stirs melted chocolate keeping it at the ready for when someone wants a glass of hot chocolate. The Florals and Spice is made using melted dark chocolate and infused with cardamom and rose petals. 

I did not get the florals or spice. The dark chocolate was strong and most likely masked the subtle delicate flavours of rose and cardamom. Served with the hot chocolate was a fluffy mini brioche doughnut filled with a spiced chocolate custard and topped with an orange blossom glaze, chopped pistachios and rose petals. As always, their doughnut dough is beautifully fluffy and airy. The glaze was too sweet for me, but the chocolate custard was great. The Peanut Butter & Jelly continues to remain my favourite doughnut at Lucky's! 

Fufu Cafe | Two to Mango

I am a mango girl through and through, and it is not everyday that you see a mango hot chocolate. The hot chocolate is made with a base of Valrhona 55% Itakuja dark chocolate and fresh mango puree and a roasted kuro goma (black sesame) puree. A dollop of sweet mango whipped cream and lemon zest finish the hot chocolate. The mango flavour was fruity and the whip was divine! I have never been big on black sesame, but it brought a wonderful rich savoury undertones to the otherwise sweet mango hot chocolate. Accompanying the hot chocolate was a duo black and white sable cookie (crumble style) with a sweet mango filling. I love mango, and pure mango puree filling is yummy to me. 

Their second hot chocolate was a miso cheese flavoured one which I decided to pass on. I just draw the line at salty miso and cheese in my hot chocolate. It might have been the best hot chocolate ever created. I guess I will never know and I am okay with that! 


Thursday 9 February 2023

Maria Ida Designs Vancouver Glass Blowing Artist

There are few art mediums as captivating as glass so I was excited to connect with Vancouver glass artist, Maria Ida Designs and see her in action firsthand! Working out of the Terminal City Glass Co-op, Maria creates colourful home objects ranging from bud vases to glasses. 

I came across Maria Ida Designs pieces at the Little Mountain Shop Holiday Pop-Up 2022 where I fell in love with her miniature bud vases. She also makes bubble bowls, glasses and vases in vibrant colours. Since each piece is made by hand, no two are alike. 

So how does glass blowing work?