My Breakup Letter

How should I put this…
  • It’s not you it’s me
  • I can’t handle how intense my feelings are for you
  • I’m just at a really weird place in my life right now
  • I need my space
  • I need to focus on me
  • You deserve better than me

I’ll start by saying that I am not giving up on blogging. It seems, however, that it has become more of a burden than a labour of love. The more interest by blog has gained, the less interested I became. The {probably self imposed} pressure to post has yeilded sub par and inconsistent content. You’ve noticed, you can be honest. What started as a creative outlet is now a nagging blip on my to-do list. So I’m taking it back. Separating business from pleasure. Here’s to being selfish and indulgent and a fresh, new start.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for following me thus far, I hope to see you all over at my new project: ariffalala

Communal Table, Thanksgiving and Recent Eats

A new program has been established at the University of Calgary called The Communal Table. Every month, a group of us takes a crop from a local farmer, prepares it and eats it together. For the first event, we used locally grown potatoes, hand harvested by some of the participants in the program and made gnocchi from scratch.

The objective of the program is to bring back a sence of community and connection in terms of food. It’s rare that in the hustle-bustle of our lifestyles that anyone stops to harvest, cook, share and eat a meal together.

We baked, peeled, mashed, mixed, kneaded, rolled and sliced our way to beautiful little pillows of poatoey dumplings, enjoyed with a fresh salad with local beets and carrots (that tasted like candy) and a dessert of organic berries with honey and cinnamon.

We were also fortunate enough to be addressed by Rod from Leaf & Lyre — a family business using SPIN (small plot intensive) farming to cultivate backyard gardens in the city.

It was a real pleasure to see Rod’s clear passion for local and sustainable practises in an urban environment as well as embracing traditional practices that bring food and people together.

*Insert awkward transition here*

HI! Here’s some brand new information: It’s been busy. I keep trying to remind myself that blogging is much like cleaning my room. Take a little time to do it daily, or wait for it to pile up into a big mess that my mom eventually cleans up out of frustration. 

But some days, when you have every minute stuffed from 5:30 to 11:00, taking pictures of, editing pictures of, and posting pictures of your food just doesn’t happen. Here’s a quick update though!

A few weeks ago I had an incredible green Thai curry with yams, coconut milk and chicken. I recreated it at home with tofu, sweet potato, mushrooms, and broccoli.

Perfect protein pancakes with almond butter and grilled bananas

French toast with cinnamon spiked pumpkin, almond butter, and grilled bananas

One of my favorite combinations —  grilled carrot/ cinnamon/ almond butter wrap

We had our usual Thanksgiving dinner with the family this past weekend. It’s always a great evening of food and family, but the days leading up are nothing less than blood, sweat, tears, screaming babies and shattered glass. I love the holidays.

We are 100% incapable of taking a decent picture together.

On my plate was a heap of salad {my uncle has a secret/ AMAZING dressing recipe. There are rarely any salad left overs}, green beans, mashed potatoes n’ gravy, mac & cheese, and perfect turkey with home-made cranberry sauce. After a full day of cooking and very little eating this plate disappeared in a flash.

After a bit of digestion we dug into dessert which is always my project during the holidays. I joked that I woke up a few weeks ago in a cold sweat after dreaming up this dessert.

1st layer: Browned butter pumpkin blondie
2nd layer: Salted pecan praline
3rd layer: Village Ice cream Salted Caramel Ice cream
4th layer: Cinnamon whipped cream.

Just ridiculous and thoroughly enjoyed, but this week was back to the usual, starting with a neon green beverage.

Romaine, spinach, lemon, apple, ginger. Good news, it’s almost the weekend — aaaand I’m working every day of it. Sad Trombone.

Homeward Bound

It’s been a great two weeks! Lots of family time, sleeping in, shopping (lots), and hanging on the beach. As if that wasn’t enough, I got to spend five extra days with just my best friend, Preeya, who moved away to Texas last Summer. A too short but sweet reunion. I can’t wait until the next one! Europe? New York? California???!

Recap on my trip and Crazy Sexy Adventure Cleanse wrap-up coming soon!

Dawg.

My dog Pepper died. I was really sad for a couple of days. I found this video though and it made me really happy. She was so ugly. I’ll miss her.

She loved carrots and tuna. She got hit by a car when she was a puppy, chasing a squirrel, no less. She knew what W-A-L-K and B-A-T-H meant. She hated both.

She liked going for rides. She growled/ barked when anything moved. Oh, she also liked ice cream. I wanted to take her for more walks this summer. She was getting fat.

She was my moms favorite child. She looked for sun spots to lay in. If she got hurt she would sulk and play it up for hours so that we would give her lots of attention. She would pretend she got hurt a lot.

On the morning she died, I slept through my alarm and missed my spin class and decided to take her for a walk instead. Things just work out sometimes, I suppose.

After we got home she ate and went to sleep, I went to work and she didn’t wake up. I’d like to think that’s the best way she could have gone.

I used to let Pepper lick my glass clean whenever I made a smoothie. Although I wouldn’t have shared this one, because it had cocoa powder in it, these little things remind me of her.

Chocolate-Cherry Smoothie

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 c. cherries
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2/3 c. almond milk
  • spinach

Peace out, dog.

Oh, Mother.

Happy (late) mothers day to all the mamas. Especially mine, who also happens to be my best, best friend

I really lucked out with this one. Grateful for every forehead kiss when she though I was sleeping ( even though I’d simply mutter, “stop being a creep”), every time she’s called me honey bunch ( even though I’d roll my eyes ) every time she’d clean my room while I was out ( even though I’d flip out, insisting that it was organized chaos) , every time she’s chauffeured me and every nagging text.

This is exactly where I get it from.

I put together a simple mothers day brunch for my mom and aunt and celebrated with my brother and cousins.

Pastries from Pascals ❤

Frittata with cheddar and asparagus

Strawberries, honey roasted almonds and lemon yogurt

We enjoyed one (twelve) to many Mimosas and napped for the rest of the day.

April in Paris

As socially awkward as I am, I find myself at ease in the midst of foodies. Conversation flows and I’m immersed in pure joy being surrounded by a group of people who just get it. 

This is why I was so happy to meet Lison from Pascal’s Patisserie here in Calgary. She exudes passion for food, particularly her partner, Pascal’s immaculate French pastry.

What makes Pascal’s so special is that it combines premium ingredients, years of practice and perfection of recipes and methods, and perhaps most notable, the fact that it is a take and bake-ery. An UN-bakery, if you will.

Pascal specializes in Viennoiserie, a type of pastry that incorperates the technique of bread making and the complexities of puff pastry. He prepares the pastries with his well seasoned hands, and then they are frozen, vacuum sealed, and distributed to high end Cafe’s around Alberta, or for customers to take home and bake themselves. Offering an authentic, French dining experience in the comfort of your own home and with so little effort required that you can actually enjoy the pastries with your loved ones.

Pascal has years of knowledge and practice of the tradition of French pastry under his belt. Recognizing the importance of the effects that the elements have on his pastries. This ain’t no Pillsbury tube-o-pastry. Despite his quiet and humble demeanor, Pascal’s passion for his craft is clear. Believe me, it is a true pleasure to watch a seasoned French pastry chef explain his work to you (with that wonderful accent!)

Lison graciously invited me to an event she organized at Cafe Gravity here in Calgary called April in Paris: Pairing fine wines from Willow Park Wines and Spirits and, of course, delicious pastry from Pascal’s Patisserie.

It saddens me to admit that my experience with French pastry is virtually non-existent; I had one incredible croissant in Monaco when I was 17, but besides that, my croissant experience is limited to the confines of the Safeway bakery.

Furthermore, my experience with wine tasting is juvenile to say the least. I am no wine connoisseur and this was my first wine tasting (as opposed to entire bottle of wine drinking while watching R.E.N.T. with a bag of rice crackers) and I was completely engrossed with all of the new things I was learning!

Michael Bigattini from Willow Park walked us through some methods of wine tasting and what to look for. Wine tasting requires all the senses. We began by observing the wine looking for clarity, and size of bubbles. After this we gave our glasses a swirl and a sniff and finally, a taste.

Tasting the wine was the best part, of course, but it was much more than your standard sip. Tasting involved sloshing, gargling, head banging and slurping in order to point out specific flavors in the wine. I think of wine tasting to be similar to analyzing literature. In English classes when I am asked to read a piece of literature and dissect it, read between the lines and decipher it’s ‘real meaning’ I am completely at a loss. I begin pulling ideas out of the air and expanding on them, hopelessly referencing evidence from the text to piece together an argument. But when the instructor walks me through the text, and shares the hidden meanings and themes, I wonder how on earth I possibly missed them!

This is much the same how I feel with wine tasting. My palate lacks a certain level of sophistication, which, I can only enhance by means of practice. That is: tasting lots and lots (and lots) of wine. Upon first sip there are certain things that come to mind, primarily, do I or do I not like it? Sometimes, I can determine whether I’m tasting stone fruits or tree fruits but that’s about as far as it goes. However, once the flavors and undertones and hints of this and wafts of that are pointed out, they are so apparent that I don’t know how I missed them in the first place!

Upon entering Cafe Gravity, a new cafe and bar in Inglewood with a modern and laid-back atmosphere, I inhaled air that was saturated with butter, yeast and hints of cinnamon. I wish this scent could be bottled.

The first pairing was a classic croissant with Campalou Vouvray Brut. – Michael suggested taking a sip of wine, a bite of croissant, and then another sip of wine. Sensory overload!

The croissant was absolute perfection. A soft, flaky cloud encapsulated by layers and layers of impossibly thin and perfectly crisp pastry.

Next, we were brought to the Lemon brioche, paired with Laetitia Chardonnay.

My first ever brioche! And it has set an incredibly high standard. The brioche was a slightly sweet with a light, cake like texture. Filled with a taste of bright lemon custard and sprinkled with crunchy sugar

Having already tried the classic croissant, I knew I was in for a treat with the almond croissant.

It was paired with Alvear Amontillado. The Amontillado offered an incredibly strong flavor (after a bit of research I have gathered that this flavor consists of almond skins, brazil nuts, salty licorice, orange peel and brown sugar –source) Michael had warned that we would probably not like the amontillado until we tasted it with the Almond Croissant. For each of the pastries I had a method of tasting each thing on its own and then together. While waiting on the basket of almond croissants to make its way to me, I tasted the amontillado. While its flavor was overwhelming initially, once combined with the subtle sweetness of the almond croissant it offered a much more pleasant experience.

A quality I noticed and appreciated with Pascal’s pastries was that even the sweeter indulgences offered a simple sophistication. None of the pastries were overwhelmingly sugary and he maintains a perfect balance of flavours.

Cinnabon has nothing on these.

Pascal uses his signature pastry to create this beautiful pin wheel with a slightly sweet cinnamon and raisin filling.

Paired with Donafugata Ben Rye which offered a spicy, citrus flavor (I figured that one out by myself) creating a grown up version of a childhood treat

 The chouquette were adorable, hollow shells of pastry just begging to be stuffed with delicious fillings: whipped cream, ice cream NUTELLA!?

However, they are absolutely perfect on their own and were served with my personal favorite wine of the evening (described by Michael as ‘teenage girl wine’ due to its extremely low alcohol content)  La SpinetteMoscato d’ Asti Bricco Quaglia from Italy.

At last, the grand finale. The piece de resistance, Pain au Chocolate.

A pastry that I had only ever heard (and dreamed) of. Pascal’s perfect pastry surrounds rich chocolate imported form France. The combination of Pascal’s impeccable pastry and the rich, high quality and partially melted chocolate had meswooning. With sips of Pineau Des Charentes, it was the perfect end to a wonderful evening. I’m so thankful to Lison and Pascal for the invite, and I’m just itching to stop by their location to stock up on some goodies to bake fresh at home.

I love the concept of Pascal’s. Offering local, high-quality ingredients, incredible passion and expertise in these delicious pastries, made accessable for everyone to enjoy fresh from their own oven. As the folks at Pascal’s Patisserie say, “Pastry to the People!”

Aloha (Hello), Aloha (Goodbye)

Home at last after a perfect week of tropical escape.

So long, island of sandy toes , Pina Coladas and sun-burnt shoulders.

Back to the land of responsibilities and technology.

Where ice cream does not make for an appropriate afternoon snack. Hmph.

Exercise occurs on a revolving plastic track as opposed to mindless jaunts down an endless road of sand, shells and sunshine.

Calls of exotic birds and sunbeams creeping through your windows replace the soul crushing melodies of your cell phone alarm clock

Itineraries are merely guidelines

Time goes by slowly, but the days went by much too fast

Oh, Snap

It’s a cold snap.

Temperatures in Cowtown have dropped to below 30 degrees. Eyeball freezing temperature!

Mouth burning oats

rolled oats, chia seeds, almond milk, cinnamon, apple, almond butter, pumpkin butter, granola

I headed to class and then to the University gym. I’ve heard rumors that it is always crowded and unfortunately, the rumors are true. Dang healthy folk! I still managed to get in a good work out, hurts to type (but it was a leg work out…?)

I went to work for the afternoon and made the painfully cold commute home.

My mom has this annoying habit of reading my mind and made cabbage soup for dinner. This aint your Cabbage-soup-diet-cabbage-soup. Super simple and delicious with a side of cheesy toast.

I’m currently listening to the Robinson Crusoe audio book. I just could. not. focus. on that novel! But having someone read it to me works quite nicely. I’m a little annoyed, however, that I dropped $35 on the book itself. Lesson learned!

 

New Year Ramble

Umm…

Merry Christmas Eve/Christmas/Happy Boxing Day/Happy New Year.

I’m embarrassed. My coworkers insisted I took some time off. They all but had a restraining order against me, keeping me away from the clinic between December 23rd until January 3rd, leaving me with SO. MUCH. time on my hands and still I neglected senorita blog for the entire break.

I wasn’t terribly busy. Honestly. I alternated between sleeping more than is probably even allowed, eating…more than is probably even allowed, catching up with friends that I should and will hang out with more often (New years resolution!)

You could find me spending money on kinda-but-not-really-neccessary things because I won’t be working full-time any more and I probably won’t be able to afford things like my FOURTH nose piercing (I’ve had to repierce four. FOUR times.) and a new iPod and lots and lots and lots of coffee and a new years eve dress and three new pairs of Lululemon pants (on sale do you think I’m insane?). This was also the first year that I could actually afford to get my loved ones Christmas gifts, which makes me so happy

Oh! I also spent my time practising YOGA lots and lots of yoga! I kept going strong with my December yoga challenge, and though I missed a couple of formal classes, I managed to find myself in some compromising positions and awkward twists while watching TV most nights.

My camera has basically been collecting dust for the past two weeks, so I would refer to this post for an idea of what Christmas was like at my house (although, this time I was lazy and only made one dessert, decreasing the total number of sticks of butter involved in Christmas dinner to 2)

New year’s eve was spent dancing my face off with friends and strangers alike.

I like the idea of new years resolutions but I’m rather impulsive and if I want to do something I like to do it right away. With that said, this year I’ll floss more, meditate more, be an awesome student, think before I speak , prioritize, keep calm, see friends more often, blog more consistently, sit up straighter, shave my legs once in a while, learn my parent’s language (so they can stop talking about me behind my back in front of me!) and learn more about wine. Which will require a lot. a. lot. of studying.

Story of my life for the last two weeks.

Now I’m back to work for one more full week and then I’m going to be a student again! I can not wait to start geeking out. I’m studying communications part-time, working part-time.

During my yoga focused December, I literally did not go to the gym once. I love yoga-high but I did miss the different kind of rush that a work out offers. On Monday, I took the familiar stroll to my gym and lifted weights for only 30 minutes and my body went from confused to uncooperative to thankful and now it is just plain angry. Everything hurts. Tuesday night I went to my favorite 6:10 hot yoga class with Gord, I basically skip to the studio giggling with glitter in my eyes on Tuesday nights and float home with a dopey grin on my face.

I don’t even care that I’m soaked with sweat and it is usually over an hours commute via foot/train/bus home in the cold and I don’t usually eat dinner until 9:30 or 10:00 p.m. meaning I’ve gone between 5-9 hours without food and we know how I get when I get hungry.

Nope. Tuesday nights are my favorite.

I’m trying to get back into the habit of waking up at at least 6 a.m. For the last little while, my alarm would go off at 5:29, I’d blink and it would be 8:30 ?! Deep down I am an early bird, so today I made the effort to JUMP out of bed at the sound of my alarm.

Broke fast.

 

Toast, apple, peanut butter, granola, pumpkin butter

and had like four hours to kill until I had to leave for work. So what else would I do? I made dinner so that it would be waiting for me when I got home from work.

Roasted garlic and brie soup. I had about half of a large wheel of brie left over from our Christmas dinner so after a brief browse on Foodgawker I put the cheese to use and it turned out delicious!

I feel like we’re caught up! I hope everyone is having a good start to the year ❤

The Sunday before Christmas

One more week until Christmas, I’m in heaven.

There’s chocolate and sparkles every where, holiday specials are taking over television, and I think the best part of my day is walking by Holt Renfrew (it’s on my way to The Yoga Passage) because they play THE BEST Christmas music. I often get asked WHY I am so obsessed with Christmas, and I really have no good reason other than it is just… the most wonderful time of the year!?!?

This morning I munched on scrambled eggs and toast while figuring out a game plan for Christmas gifts.

Later, my mom and I went to the Karma class at The Yoga Passage (day 18 of December yoga challenge: done). We used to do this every Sunday and get coffee after, but have fallen out of the habit so it was nice to hang!

All afternoon I was cooped up in my kitchen, making cupcakes for my dad’s office as well as a couple of top-secret holiday gifts(!!!)

A full afternoon of beating and icing and sprinkling and melting and stirring and cleaning and cooking and… prancing around the kitchen belting out Christmas songs can really work up and appetite.

In order to fully enjoy the holiday season without going to bed each night in a sugar coma, my plan is to enjoy ONE festive delight a day. Coffee with a splash of eggnog, Ferrero Rocher, LINDOR TRUFFLES, and let’s not forget the abundance of Christmas cookies around every corner. Today it was a coconut topped mini cupcake. Savoured! Not before a for-real meal though.

Tandoori chicken, pita, raita (yogurt sauce) and spinach. 

I. am. WIPED. have a sparkly week!