Somehow I got caught up in the kerfuffle of Passover, work trips to Toronto, and hosting Mother's Day and Dad's birthday dinner, blinked, and it was already mid-May. I'm not entirely sure how that happened, but I'm rolling with it. We're doing our best to maximize our time outside and enjoy the sun. We've already downed our first patio caesar, fired up the barbecue, and have taken a few walks/bikes/runs along the canal.
In the spirit of "summer is coming," I decided to take the ice cream maker out of winter hibernation. Last weekend's festivities (and my first attempt at strawberry shortcake) left me with heavy cream in the fridge, so the timing just felt right. What started as a simple ginger ice cream, quickly morphed into something amazing when I spotted Ontario rhubarb at the store (I may or may not have squealed with excitement). The result was far more delicious then I could have ever imagined. If you don't have an ice cream maker, make this cream instead, but either way, do not miss out on this lip-smacking flavour bomb!
I have yet to spot any spring produce at my local market. The weather forecast for the weekend is promising, but until I find Quebec asparagus or rhubarb, I'm relying on familiar foods and flavours.
These falafels fall into that category. They have a familiar baked falafel texture, but a unique, subtle flavouring from the sunflower seeds. Jazzed up with vibrant pickled turnips and fresh chimichurri, they make for one hell of a lunch (or dinner). Give me all the pita, hummus and falafels. Always.
It snowed last week, yet I got a sun burn over the weekend. Oh how I love Spring!
I always feel slightly confused this time of year. I never know what coat to wear, whether to pack my umbrella with me when I leave for work, or what meals I feel like eating. My body still craves warm winter comfort food, yet is totally tantalized by images of fresh spring produce. That's where this burrito bowl comes in. Comfort from the mexican-style rice, warmth from the spicy beans, and fresh spring crunch from the slaw. A perfectly harmonious combination that we've been eating on repeat around here lately. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
When we were in New Zealand, Queenstown specifically, we stumbled onto this adorable café tucked at the base of the gondola. We were craving something warm and sweet, so decided to wander in. After scouring the glass display for a solid 10 minutes, I finally settled on an almond milk flat white and a ginger pistachio bar (I can't say no to ginger). The bar was everything I could have asked for in an afternoon treat -- sweet, yet tangy from the ginger, and soft enough to eat with a fork, yet crunchy from the baked bottom layer and pistachio topping. After fighting over the last bite, I knew almost immediately that I would have to try making them once we were back home. I settled on a dairy and gluten free version and couldn't be happier with the results. I hope you like them as much as I do!
Many thanks to Sabatier for sponsoring this post! The chopping knife made nut and ginger prep an absolute breeze, and I quickly fell in love with the versatility of the butcher block.
Weekday breakfasts are pretty standard around here -- granola with nut milk in the summer, and some variation of oatmeal in the winter. Sometimes though, on those extra wintery mornings, I need a little extra motivation to get out of bed. That's how these pancakes came to be -- a happy accident one early weekday morning.
I'd seen chia puddings all over the web, but knew, knowing my tastes, that I wouldn't like it on its own in a bowl or parfait -- it needed to be more of a topping, like yogurt or compote are to waffles. I've been on a kick supreming citrus lately, and decided to whisk some fresh grapefruit juice and maple syrup into the chia mixture. The result was perfectly balanced in flavour, with subtle hits of sweetness from the maple, and tartness from the grapefruit. The pancakes are easy, and come together quickly -- and like I said, totally achievable on a weekday!
After eight amazing days in Sydney, we hopped a plane and headed east. Our plan was to tackle both islands in 10 days, and though some people said we were nuts, that it was going to be too much too quickly, we were determined to see as much of the country as possible.
We landed in Christchurch quite late, awoke the next morning and hit the ground running. We packed up our little rental car (being sure to stop for snacks!) and started our journey west, through Arthur's Pass. It wasn't the most idyllic day - heavy rain and fog, but we felt the presence of the mountains the whole way. As we pulled into Franz Josef, the skies cleared, and out of the fog appeared these perfectly triangular mountains, just like the ones I remember drawing as a kid. I've never experienced a landscape quite like it -- all encompassing, somewhat overwhelming, and just downright stunning.
The next few days in the south island were filled with a myriad of activities. We hiked the face of the Franz Josef Glacier, took a scenic stroll around Lake Matheson (while checking out Mt. Cook in the distance), reveled in the turquoise colour of the blue pools in Mount Aspiring, indulged in some local beer and cheese while watching the sunset over Lake Hawea, tackled the Roy's Peak hike in Wanaka, rewarded ourselves post hike with some vino from Rippin Winery, ate our way through Queenstown, and got swept away by the whimsy of Milford Sound.
We've been back for almost a month now, and its taken me until now to craft this post. Every time I looked through our photos, or read over my travel notes, I would get a little weepy -- longing to be back on that side of the world, basking in vacation traveler mode.
We started our trip in Sydney -- a long overdue visit with my paternal aunt. She's lived in Sydney for quite some time, and though she still sounds like a Canadian, she can most definitely be considered a local. Being able to stay with someone who is so intimately familiar with a place makes all the difference while traveling. We never really felt like tourists, so much as insiders, getting to know the real Sydney.
The first 2 days in town were spent touring the neighbourhoods and getting a pretty solid lay of the land. We hit up the north beaches, Manly beach, the eastern suburbs, Darlinghurst, Surry Hills -- you name it, we saw it. Each neighbourhood was totally unique, with its own sense of identity and flare. Mid-week we decided to escape the city and boarded a train to the Blue Mountains. We spent the day hiking with friends from home, amidst a blue haze of eucalyptus trees. The following day we headed down to Bondi beach, and embarked on the scenic walk from Bondi to Coogee. The 6km coastal route winds its way through various beaches and neighbourhoods, each prettier then the last.
Finally there was New Year's Eve. My aunt has always said that NYE in Sydney is not to be missed. The whole city lines up along the shore of the harbour, vying for the best view of the fireworks. We were lucky enough to essentially have a front row seat, and I can assure you, having now experienced it, that Sydney does not disappoint (photos below can attest to that).