Moving On

TW: eating disorders, depression

Time for some real talk. 

When I started this food blog 6 years ago, it was to help me cope with an eating disorder. It was a good way for me to mend my relationship with food by making sure I was eating regularly and making memories of positive food experiences. It's been an interesting and at times treacherous journey, but I've gone from unnecessarily starving myself to being able to appreciate a lot of different things about food. While indulging my inner foodie, I've learned about many different cultures and cuisines, I've learned more about where my food comes from and I've learned about the tremendous satisfaction you get from making things from scratch.

It's important to understand that eating disorders are like other chronic mental health conditions - they stick with you for the long run. It's not something you can "cure", but you can acquire coping mechanisms to help you manage it. This blog used to be that coping mechanism for me, but it isn't quite as effective as it used to be. It's very common to have multiple mental health issues going on at the same time and my anorexia happens to pair well with depression. As a result, I can't always find the motivation to write a blog post and end up saving photos from a food adventure to write about at a later time that might never come. I assume that I can find inspiration to write by traveling and having new food experiences, which does happen sometimes, but it isn't always the case. I've placed a lot of pressure on myself to update this blog and the reality is that I don't quite have that capacity, but that's okay.

I truly commend the avid bloggers in our city like Only Here for the Food, Baconhound, and Lindork for their constant upkeep. A lot of thought goes into each post and a lot of energy goes into continually updating content. I'm very appreciative of our foodie community in Edmonton. It's nice to be able to know when and where food-related things are happening in the city and being able to follow along. A pretty important thing to have as a regular blogger is the passion and drive to keep doing it.

At least for now, I'm going to take a break from posting in this blog. However, I'm not disappearing from the foodie world. I love interacting with people on social media about food and drooling over food photos. I'm going to try to replace posting on the blog with more frequent activity on Instagram. I learned a bit about Instagram when I worked with YRAP on their Cook-It-Yourself program last summer. Instagram is a great platform for sharing something right away while not necessarily saying a lot, but just enough. 

To my readers who have stuck with me from my beginnings in 2012 and to my readers who have hopped on this weird bandwagon at some point between then and now, thank you. It's been fun bonding with you over delicious things. I hope that some of you will continue to follow along on my food adventures on social media.

After all, I'm still a born and raised Edmontonian, documenting my musings in all things food.
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Things You Must Try: Jasper

This past weekend, I made a visit to Jasper for a conference. During my time as a student and even now as a working professional, conferences have been a great way for me to see different places. I always try to spend some of that time indulging in local eats.

The view from the Jasper SkyTram is breathtaking. 11/10 would recommend.
Syrahs of Jasper (606 Patricia Street, Jasper, AB) was my first pick of the weekend. Whenever I go out of the city, I try to find something that I might not necessarily get back home. Syrahs of Jasper was one of the places in Jasper that promised a good serving of elk and they also happened to have a 3-course dinner deal for $29.

Syrahs of Jasper in downtown Jasper, across the street from the Jasper Adventure Centre.

In place of bread, they served a blue cheese and red wine biscuit with a red pepper butter. (Luckily for me, the only trace of blue cheese in the biscuit was its blue colour.)

Syrahs' House Salad - mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, fresh bocconcini, avocados, and walnuts with a vinaigrette dressing. The millennial blood in me appreciated the avocados.

Tequila Sunrise - a palate cleanser that was basically like sugary ice with a little booze. Pretty much a tiny granita.

Elk Osso Buco (maple whiskey and mustard braised elk shank with roasted carrots, rutabaga, and potatoes). The elk was a +$7 on top of the $29 3-course dinner deal, but it was so worth it.

I had to take my dessert to go, but I opted for their Baked Apple Tart with a dollop of cinnamon creme fraiche.
A new eatery opened its doors only a month ago in downtown Jasper. Should you take a stroll around the town and follow amazing aromas of Caribbean cuisine, you'll come across the quaint shop called The Spice Joint (614 Connaught Drive, Jasper, AB). Their menu is a fusion of Canadian lunch staples with Caribbean flavours. In its first 4 weeks, The Spice Joint's most popular dishes include their Jerk Chicken Grilled Cheese, Jerk Chicken Sandwich, and Jerk Chicken Caesar Salad Wrap. While I was enjoying my lunch, a fellow came in from the patio to let everyone know that he just had the best grilled cheese sandwich he's ever had in his life. That testimonial in addition to my own tasty sandwich will ensure my return to this fine establishment. 

The Spice Joint, a little Caribbean paradise in the middle of the Rocky Mountains.

The interior of The Spice Joint looks like a typical cafe with a chalkboard menu, except instead of pastries and muffins in a window, they're Jamaican patties.

Jerk Chicken Sandwich - toasted brioche smothered with jerk aioli, a generous helping of jerk chicken, and housemade slaw. Their jerk chicken is absolutely delicious. The meat is unbelievably moist and so full of flavour. I can totally see how the jerk chicken grilled cheese would be to die for. A bottle of ginger beer pairs very well, by the way.

I enjoyed my Spicy Beef Jamaican Patty at an elevation of 2287m.
One thing to note is that if you need to grab a bite in Jasper before 7am on a Sunday, the only place you can go is Bear's Paw Bakery. They have a solid spread of baked goods from loaves of bread to their famous "bear paws". 

Thank you, Bear's Paw Bakery for being open at 6 on a Sunday.

I grabbed a Spicy Sausage Roll and Cheese Bun and ran off to catch my bus back to Edmonton.
Every now and then, all you need is a little dose of fresh mountain air to retreat from the daily grind of the work week. In any case, it's good to be home again and I'm really looking forward to our city's summer food festivals, not to mention that the farmer's market will be outside again in a few weeks!



Things You Must Try: Thailand Part 2, Beyond Bangkok

While I spent most of the trip in Bangkok, I also managed to venture outside of the city as well as visit a few beaches. I certainly ate my fair share and then some. Thailand's beaches were my kind of paradise (i.e. the kind with fantastic fresh food and a lot of it)!

When you're dining at an island resort in Thailand, definitely go for the fish and seafood as much as you can. Even if you do happen to get a little homesick, the resorts tend to have some Western dishes to console you with like toast and eggs, hamburgers, and french fries (not gonna lie, I totally had some fries). 

Pranburi Beach was not too far from the very touristy Hua Hin, but in contrast, it was quieter and still had just as good if not better food offerings!
Pad Phak Ruam (stir-fried mixed vegetables) and Tam Mamuang (fresh julienned green mango salad with fish sauce, carrots, and onions) at Tonto, Pranburi Beach

Pad Kra Phrao (Fried squid and holy basil with rice and fresh cucumber slices) at Tonto, Pranburi Beach

Pla Thot (whole deep-fried fish served with spicy dipping sauce) at Khraw Kheiyng Khlun in Cha-am District near Pranburi Beach

Khao Tom (boiled rice soup with minced pork served with fresh herbs and chilies) at Hua Plee Lazy Beach Resort, Pranburi Beach

I will miss this dearly. Coconut milk ice cream in Canada doesn't have anything on the fresh stuff in Thailand. Durian coconut milk ice cream from a small street market by Pranburi Beach.

Koh-Poo/Koh-Jum is a small island near Krabi that only got electricity 2 years ago. The resorts are a bit quieter, but that wasn't a bad thing. The food is stellar and so is the water and sand that you see every morning and every night that you're there.

Sapaketti Phat Kee Mao (Spaghetti noodles stir-fried with Thai chilies, mixed veggies, and seafood) at Krabi International Airport
Cha Yen (Thai iced milk tea) at Zoo Coffee, Krabi Town

Pla Nueng Manao (steamed whole fish with chilies, cilantro, and lime juice) at Ting Rai Bay Resort, Koh-Poo/Koh-Jum

Khao Pad (fried rice with chicken, eggs, and mixed veggies) at Ting Rai Bay Resort, Koh-Poo/Koh-Jum

Koh-Chang is one of the largest islands in the Gulf of Thailand and has a beautiful beach that doesn't have as many large waves passing through it. As a result, it's great for families, and has numerous resorts to choose from. There are also some great snorkeling tours you can book, which also include lunch.
Kailan Ikan Masin (Stir-fried gai lan with chilies and salted fish) at Iyara Seafood, Koh-Chang

Bu Pad Phong Kari (fried softshell crab with eggs and curry powder) at Iyara Seafood, Koh-Chang

Hoi Kraeng Luak (Fresh boiled sea clams served with a spicy dipping sauce) at Iyara Seafood, Koh-Chang 

Aside from beaches, I spent a day in Thailand's old capital, Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya may not be the capital city anymore, but it carries a lot of rich history and good food to boot. There are definitely tourists seeing as tourism is one of Thailand's most prevalent industries, but it's not the same crowd as you'll see in Bangkok.

Guay Tiew Ruea (Thai "boat noodle soup" with flat rice noodles and pork in a rich broth of spices and pork blood) at Krung Kao Boat Noodles, Ayutthaya

Thot Man Pla (fried patties of minced fish, lime leaves, and curry paste served with sweet chili dipping sauce) at Ayutthaya
Kanom Lod Chong (sweet pandan noodles in coconut milk and ice) at Ayutthaya
Thailand is basically a constant food festival wherever you go. I can't wait to come back to revisit some of my new-found favourites and try more new delicacies! I hope you've enjoyed looking at these food goodies from the other side of the world, but for the next little while, I'm going to back to posting from good ole E-Town :)



Things You Must Try: Thailand Part 1, Bangkok

Hello, my foodie friends! I hope 2018 has been going well for all of you so far! I can't believe it, but I got to finish off 2017 by celebrating the holidays in Thailand. It was much needed R&R, but more importantly, the food was incredible! I thought I'd share some of my favourite bites from my 2 week long eating tour of Bangkok and surrounding areas, but there's a lot.

Food courts in Bangkok are quite the spectacle. Their fast food is just food that is prepared quickly, but isn't necessarily greasy, junk food. 

Pad See Ew (Fried flat rice noodles fried with gai lan, egg, and pork) at Tops in CentralPlaza LadPrao, Bangkok
Satay (Grilled chicken on a stick served with a spicy peanut sauce and fresh pickled cucumber) at Ortorkor, Bangkok

Kaeng Lueang and Khana Mu Krop (Yellow curry with pork and pumpkin and spicy pork and gai lan) at Platinum Fashion Mall, Bangkok
Lad Na (Fried flat rice noodle sheets with chicken, gai lan, and gravy) at Platinum Fashion Mall, Bangkok

Khao Niao Mamuang (Fresh mango with sticky rice, toasted rice, and coconut milk) at Siam Centre, Bangkok

An amazing feature of Bangkok was the availability of street food every 50 metres or less. I will miss being able to find freshly barbecued meat on a stick at 7:00 in the morning for $0.30 CAD...

Roti (Thai-style roti filled with fresh banana slices and fried in butter) at Tha Phrachan Cross River Ferry Pier, Bangkok

Kuay Teaw Ped Toon (Rich broth with egg noodles, fresh cilantro and green onions, and duck breast) at Tha Phrachan Cross River Ferry Pier, Bangkok

Guay Jap (Rolled rice noodles with fresh pork and roast pork in a white peppery broth) at Yaowarat (Chinatown), Bangkok

Itim Khanom Pang (Taro hot dog bun with scoops of coconut milk icecream, sticky rice, red beans, sweet potato, coconut jelly, and condensed milk drizzle) at Ortorkor, Bangkok

Sai Grok Woon Sen (barbecued pork sausage with glass noodles) at Sanam Luang, Bangkok

Other favourites include familiar "all you can eat" style dinners with a Thai twist!
Thai-style barbecue hot plates allow you to grill food on top and simmer food on the sides. This was at Bar-B-Q Plaza in CentralPlaza Grand Rama IX, Bangkok
Thai-style hot pot is similar to Chinese hotpot where you can have a mixture of raw food to cook and hot food that's ready to eat. It's served with green pandan noodles, which goes really well with the soup! This was at MK Restaurant in Tesco Lotus LadPrao, Bangkok
All in all, Bangkok was filled with all sorts of delicious food available at nearly any time of day.  10/10 would eat again. Look forward to Part 2 for more things you must try in Thailand!



Love for the Locals: An Chay

An Chay, a new vegetarian and vegan Vietnamese restaurant just opened last week where the very short-lived Pitaghetti used to be. This is an interesting addition to the block considering how Edmonton's first vegan pizzeria, Die Pie (where I also hope to try at some point) started operations not too long ago. Unlike most Vietnamese restaurants in the city, there is no fish sauce or meat in sight. The entire menu consists of vegetarian and vegan options. While it isn't as extensive as the menu of your typical pho shop, there's enough for some variety. The prices are also a little steeper, but I suspect part of that is because of the cost of rent on Jasper Ave. 

An Chay, Vietnamese Vegetarian (11203 Jasper Ave)

Located at the corner of 112 Street and Jasper Avenue, it was clear that the furniture (namely chairs and tables) was purchased together with the space, but they've made good use of both by simply rearranging things to feel cozier and more welcoming. Happy to give An Chay a try, we made a stop for lunch today. We were very promptly welcomed and seated at a table. A nice feature of the location is that 2 of the 4 walls are windows, letting in plenty of natural light. 

A new restaurant with familiar furniture to former patrons of Pitaghetti

I have a spring roll problem in that I have to order them when I'm planning to enjoy a bowl of pho or vermicelli. An Chay's spring rolls do not contain any pork or shrimp, or meat of any sort, but they do have a number of root vegetables including carrots, daikon, and taro. P and I felt that they were a little smaller than we're used to, but they were tasty. The sauce served with the spring rolls was good too, despite lacking the brininess you get from fish sauce.

An Chay's Vegetarian Spring Rolls

While traditional pho broth tends to be made with beef bones, onions, ginger, and star anise among other things, An Chay's vegetarian pho broth is primarily made with carrot, daikon, jicama, and star anise. In place of the more typical steak, flank, tripe, and meatballs, the vegetarian pho offers a plethora of vegetables including bok choy, carrot, black fungus, and king oyster mushrooms, as well as some tofu. The noodles are cooked to a perfect consistency and you are offered the usual side of beansprouts, basil, chili pepper, and lime. In addition, you are provided with a small sauce dish of hoisin and sriracha. It was more like a simple vegetable noodle soup to me, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It just wasn't the pho I am used to tasting. I feel like I could have given this bowl of vegetarian pho a fairer trial if I hadn't just come back from a morning workout at the gym.

An Chay's Vegetarian Pho

P opted for the Spicy Noodle Soup (a.k.a. An Chay's Bun Hue). He felt that it was a bit too sweet and not spicy enough, but it did taste good. However, to be totally fair about the spicy thing, P's threshold for heat is a lot higher than most. His bowl of noodles featured tofu in a variety of forms including a "vegan sausage", which was like thin slices of compact tofu. It also came with a side of beansprouts, basil, chili peppers, as well as some shredded red cabbage. 

An Chay's Bun Hue

Overall, the staff are very friendly and the food is good if your diet leans more towards plants or are looking for a refreshing change. I would not recommend doing what I did by coming here right after the gym, especially if you are an omnivore or a meatetarian, as I found my meal a tad too light to be completely satisfying. However, if you are looking for more of a light work lunch, it would be pretty fitting. I look forward to returning for some more spring rolls and to see what their vermicelli is like.