My Five: Books I’ve Read Lately

My Five Books

I seem to go through phases where I read a lot, and then periods where I don’t read anything other than Bon Appetit for weeks. I’ve actually gone through a few books in the last couple of months, so here are five books I’ve read lately!

1. It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell

This memoir by the voice behind the blog Can You Stay For Dinner is about Andie’s struggle with her weight and the emotional toll that caused, and resulted from, her weight gain and loss. Much like her blog, the book is beautifully and honestly written, and I love that she acknowledges that shedding excess pounds doesn’t mean you’ve said goodbye to the demons in your head. Andie had some tough stuff to deal with in her life, and seeing how she rose above all of that is inspiring. I flew through it in a flash!

2. Blackout: Remembering The Things I Drank To Forget by Sarah Heppola

Apparently I’m really in to reading the life stories of female addicts lately (in reality I had them both on hold at the library and they became available at the same time ). This book takes on a similar format to It Was Me All Alongbut deals with Sarah’s struggle with alcoholism. It’s definitely cringe worthy at times,  and hits a little too close to home at others, but it’s a great read that I also finished super quickly.

3. All Of The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This was a book someone had chosen for the book club that I’m in, although I didn’t finish it before the discussion. One of these days I’m going read the entire book before a meeting! Anyways, I was a little disappointed at first to discover that the book took place during World War Two, since I’m generally not a huge fan of historical fiction, but I ended up really enjoying the way Doerr weaved together the stories of two young people on opposite sides of the conflict. The story jumps back and forward in time without becoming confusing, and it was fun to try and figure out the eventual connection between the two main characters.

4. Sous Chef: 24 Hours On The Line by Michael Gibney

I love reading food-related books (shocker, I know), so I thought this one would be right up my alley. As the title suggests, Gibney gives us a glimpse in to the day in the life of a sous chef based on his experience in restaurants, going through a full 24 hours of prepping, cooking, partying, and everything in between. It’s the first book I’ve read that’s written in the second person, so that was interesting. In the end I didn’t like this book as much as I thought I would – it felt a little anticlimactic and there wasn’t really anything that kept me hooked. Some of the behind the scenes restaurant insights were interesting though!

5. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

If you loved The Happiness Project and Happier at Home you’ll love Gretchen Rubin’s third book on the little things you can do to make your life better. Or at least I did. Gretchen’s books always leave me feeling inspired to really drill down in to what makes me happy and try to work on living by those principles, and this one was no different.

Are you a fiction or a non fiction fan? What have you been reading lately?

The Weekend I Played All the Soccer

Chilly soccer

There was one pretty clear theme this weekend, and that was soccer all the time. That tends to be a theme in my life in general, but I took it to a new level this weekend! It started when I showed up to a soccer practice with my women’s team on Thursday night to find that we’d be taking the field right after some Team Canada men’s team recruits. It was hard not to feel a little bit inadequate after watching those guys move the ball around, but I don’t think any of us have any illusions that we’re national team calibre .

On Friday and Saturday I played in a coed tournament called Boxers, Bras, and Beerfest, so as you can imagine it was a pretty fun time. Everyone was encouraged to wear, you guessed it, boxers and bras, and most teams went along with the theme. Our whole team wore boxers, and we saw other teams wearing everything from bras over their jerseys, to thongs over their shorts, to a rainbow of tulle tutus. Some of the goalies really went all out – we saw one wearing a hulk costume and another dressed as a princess. It made for a pretty fun atmosphere and helped dull the sting of losing very badly in our first two games. Luckily we played teams that were more on our level on Saturday and both games were super close. The group of people I played with was a lot of fun and it was great to have a beer with them and chat between games. I was feeling pretty exhausted after the fourth game, though!

I’d been excited for Saturday night for a couple of months because Patrick Watson was going to be in town. He’s been one of my favourites for a long time, and I’d only ever seen him in a festival setting, so I’d been waiting for the chance to see him in concert. There were a lot of highlights, but I think my favourite was when he and his band did Into Giants in a twangy Southern style. I love the original version of the song, but it was fun to see him put a quirky spin on it. My friend Naomi came with me, and even though we were aching after playing in the tournament, we managed to stay on our feet until the end of the encore. I had to resort to wearing running shoes to the show because I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make it otherwise (#old). My phone mysteriously overheated and died so I have no pictures, but grainy cell phone concert pictures are never really that great anyways, are they?

On Sunday I relaxed in my pjs and watched football for a while before heading to yet another soccer game. This one was outside and it was a little chilly, but once we started moving it wasn’t so bad. It was our last game of the season and we won, so that was exciting! My brother came out to play with us and it was really fun to have him there. After the game I was thoroughly chilled, so I went home to put some warm clothes on before heading to my parents’ place for a big family dinner. I think there were 19 people there so it was a full house! It was great to visit with everyone and eat some delicious food before going home to my dog and my quiet house.

I’m playing in another tournament in two weeks, so it’ll be nice to have this week to wash all of my stinky soccer gear . What did you do this weekend?


Summer Camping – Spray Lakes

Spray Lakes Kananaskis Heather Zevi PhillipsJust before the August long weekend, Zevi and I decided that we wanted to go camping in the Kananaskis area. We figured we’d go midweek to beat the crowds and hopefully be able to find a spot without a reservation. Getting ready for camping always take so much longer than we expect, and it was our first trip of the summer so it was especially difficult to track down everything we needed. By the time we’d packed the car until it was close to bursting, our “early start” had turned into leaving the house at 1:30, followed by a detour for Vietnamese subs to stave off any looming hanger.

As we got closer to Canmore it started to pour rain – not exactly the 100% pure sunshine the Weather Network had promised! We pulled in to the Safeway parking lot to wait it out and weigh our options. We’d pretty much resigned ourselves to heading home, because who wants to camp when it’s soggy and gross and you can’t even start a fire, but I really had my heart set on spending a couple of days outside, so at the last minute we pulled off the highway to give it a shot.

Spray Lakes Kananaskis mountain view Spray Lakes Kananaskis rainbow Spray Lakes Kananaskis tent view

We managed to get probably the most beautiful site I’ve ever camped in at Spray Lakes campground. We were mere metres from the lake, and the tall forest made us feel like were in our own private oasis. We had an amazing mountain view from our tent, and being down a bit from the road meant that Benny didn’t freak out too much about other dogs passing by. It wouldn’t be the best spot for camping with friends, but for the two of us it was totally perfect. It had been a rough month, so that fresh mountain air and the no service icon on my phone were precisely what I needed.

Spray Lakes Kananaskis fire Spray Lakes Kananaskis hot dog Spray Lakes Kananaskis Benny

It did sprinkle off and on over the course of the afternoon and evening, but we’d just jump into the car for ten minutes or so and the rain would pass. There aren’t many things that taste better than hot dogs cooked over a fire, and as I sat in my reclining chair (bringing two of those may have been what caused our car to be so crammed, but they are totally worth it) and ate that hot dog I couldn’t have been much happier.

In case this is all starting to sound too idyllic, our trip came to an abrupt end when Zevi heard the campground manager talking about a bear sighting right next to our campsite as we were lying peacefully in bed. We decided we wouldn’t be able to sleep with the knowledge that a bear may or may not be way too close for comfort, so at 11pm we frantically jammed everything into the car and left. Driving home close to midnight after bailing on the camping trip we’d spent so much time packing for when we were having such a good time left neither of us in the greatest mood, let me tell you. In hindsight since it was just a black bear there’s a 99.99% chance we would have been totally fine, but it was a gut reaction at the time and all we can really do is look back and laugh.

Spray Lakes Kananaskis rain viewI’m so glad we discovered Spray Lakes, even if we were just there for a short time. We definitely want to get back out there next summer, hopefully minus the bear-induced midnight escape .

New York City – What We Ate (Part 2)

Brooklyn Brewery tasting room

Here’s a follow up to my first post on what we ate when we were in New York City in June. This one should probably be called What We Ate and Drank because there was a lot of imbibing going on at a couple of these places .

The Spotted Pig

When I think back to all of the meals we ate in New York City, The Spotted Pig and Lucali are tied for the distinction of most memorable meal. April Bloomfield’s first restaurant serves the kind of food that I could imagine eating for Sunday dinner, just kicked up a notch (or ten).

We’d had this place recommended to us through countless sources so we figured it would be busy, but we got there late enough (around 9:30) that we didn’t have to wait long to get a seat. As the hostess lead us in, it reminded me more of my neighbourhood british pub than any high end restaurant I’ve ever been to, with wood panelled walls and ceilings and cluttered rows of framed pictures. If they got rid of the white tablecloths I could imagine grabbing a casual beer there with friends, and I really liked feeling that laid back vibe at such a high end place.

That’s where the comparison to my local pub end, though, as the food is (thankfully) much better than the stuff they serve. The Spotted Pig is famous for its burger, and Zevi’s cousin-in-law (is that a thing?) had just eaten it recently and insisted that one of us had to order it. Zevi went for it and the juicy, blue cheese smothered patty lived up to all of the hype. The crispy shoestring fries were pretty spot on as well. I went for the special, a whole chicken simmered in milk with rich gravy and peas, and it ranks among the most lusciously tender chicken I’ve ever eaten.  The Spotted Pig is on the higher end price-wise but Zevi and I agreed that it was definitely worth it!

Brooklyn Brewery

Brooklyn Brewery Zevi

On our last day in Brooklyn we had to check out the area’s most famous brewery. Brooklyn Brewery offers free tours every half hour on the weekend, and they seem to have their system down to a science. When we walked in, we got a ticket stating the time of our tour and were told that we’d be welcome to hang out in the tasting room while we waited for our assigned time slot. I’ve been to a few breweries, and I’ve never seen such a huge space filled with so many people, even at 1:00 on a Saturday afternoon! We had time to try most of the beers they had on tap – I’ve only ever had the Brooklyn Lager here in Calgary so it was fun to sample some of their other offerings.

Brooklyn Brewery Heather Brooklyn Brewery beers

The tour itself was one of the better ones I’ve been on. It was led by one of the brewery’s copywriters (hello, dream job!) and, even though you could tell he’d performed the spiel countless times, he delivered anecdotes in facts in a way that had us all laughing. The tour was over before we could get bored and we were off to try some more samples .


Torst Zevi Torst glasses

After we were done at the brewery, we walked over to Torst, a nearby Danish bar. I’d never even heard of a Danish bar, let alone been to one, but if Torst is any indication, they serve craft beer in Christmas-themed wine glasses from taps on a wall behind a beautiful slab of stone.

Torst cheese plate

Torst beef tartare

I’m a sucker for a good cheese plate, and Torst’s comes with super seedy Danish rye bread and a bowl full of briney, citrusy olives. I had to take one for the team and eat all of the olives myself because Zevi doesn’t like them (rough life, I know). We also got melt- in-your-mouth beef tartare smothered in shaved smoked egg yolk that, unfortunately for me, Zevi was into . Even though it’s clearly a hipster haven it was super cozy, and we stayed and sipped from those wine glasses for probably a little longer than we should have.

There are about a million other places that I wish we’d eaten at but didn’t, so we’ll just have to head back soon. Have you been to New York City? What were the best places you ate at?

Why I Love Snapchat (and Why You Might, Too!)

I was utterly confused by Snapchat when I first heard about it. Why would you want to send pictures to someone only to have them disappear after ten (or nine or eight or seven) seconds? One of the things I value most about recording life’s moments is the ability to look back on them later and remember those good times. Even those regrettable photos I posted on Facebook almost ten years ago (what?!) make me smile through my embarrassment. Storage space on my phone is precious, so I resisted downloading Snapchat for quite some time before I finally caved. It has now made its way from the reject pile to my home screen, which is a real testament to how much I use it and love it now!

The main reason I love Snapchat is because it’s the one platform where people seem to feel free to be silly and real and show snapshots of their every day life. I love the carefully arranged overhead Instagram shot of a beautiful tablescape as much as the next gal (no really, I do), but don’t try to tell me that you didn’t spend five minutes working on making everything look casually thrown together while your food gets cold. I would know, I do it on the regular. I’m not trying to knock Instagram, because I truly love scrolling through breathtaking photos of mountains and mouthwatering food shots, but it’s no longer somewhere where the people I follow post anything that isn’t carefully planned and curated. Snapchat feels like the Instagram of 2011, where I didn’t care if what I posted was grainy and poorly lit. The people I follow don’t care either, and that’s what makes it fun!

The key to enjoying Snapchat, for me, anyways, is the Stories section. You can find it in the bottom right corner of the screen when you open the app. I didn’t even know that this existed for the longest time, but when I found it I started to get hooked. You can follow people and anything they post to their story is viewable for 24 hours before it disappears. I follow a lot of the bloggers I love, and it’s a really fun way to get a glimpse into their everyday lives (what can I say, I’m nosy!). People are also willing to be irreverent and goofy in a way that they generally aren’t in the highly curated world of blogs and Instagram. Snapchat to me is a place for lighthearted fun, and goodness knows we could use a little more of that in our lives.

One thing I find awkward about Snapchat is that it’s hard to find new people to follow – you can’t see who others are following or see any interaction between people. Here are some of my favourite people to follow. You can look them up by the usernames I’ve listed here.


I mentioned Bev in the post I wrote about my favourite Instagram accounts, and she’s ten times more hilarious on Snapchat. If you’re looking for pure silliness, with some adorable kid snaps sprinkled in, Bev is your gal.


I love Dani’s blog, and her Snapchat is an extension of that warm and wonderful persona.


Adrianna is another blogger I love. I love the hilarious snaps she posts from time to time analyzing why people unfollow her on Instagram.

Some others: elsielarson (from A Beautiful Mess), tshutterbean (food blogger/amazing photographer), Pinch of Yum (another food blogger)

So if you’ve read this and are thinking that Snapchat sounds totally frivolous and silly, well, it is. But it’s so much fun, and it’s kind of refreshing not to care about likes or retweets or any of that stuff. Do you use Snapchat? Tell me who you love to follow!

The First Weekend of Fall

Calgary fall streetHappy Monday! Fall is most definitely out in full force here in Calgary, but we’re still getting some warm days go along with those chilly nights. The gorgeous yellow leaves that are still (barely) hanging on to the trees on our street make it hard to complain!

On Friday night, Zevi and I went on a mini cocktail bar crawl with my sister, my brother, and my brother’s girlfriend. We started off at Cannibale, a cozy little spot in Bridgeland that has delicious, creative cocktails and amazing snacks and sandwiches to go with them. They have a gorgeous patio with heaters that make it comfortable even on late September evenings, but all the seats were taken outside on this particular evening so we camped out inside instead. My sister works there, so we get all the expert recommendations (and a nice little discount too). I’ve never had a drink there that I didn’t like, but the Santiago, the Tropicante, and the Light Taber (it tastes exactly like corn on the cob!) are my current go-tos. They’re changing the menu soon so lots of those favourites will be gone, but I’m sure they’ll be replaced with something equally delicious!

Once we’d had a couple of drinks we headed across downtown to visit my sister’s boyfriend, Nate, at Proof. It’s a little more upscale than Cannibale, but the cocktails and the food are just as good! I should probably branch out, but I love the smoky, tequila-based Fire in the Pharmacy so much that I can’t bring myself to order anything else . When we mentioned that we might order food, Nate told me that I had to get the pork steam buns and he was absolutely right. They came out family-style with pieces of tender roasted pork, pungent kimchi, thinly sliced veggies and spicy sauce, and they were without contest the best baos I’ve ever eaten. I had two, but I probably could have eaten twelve .

On Saturday we helped some good friends move in to their new house. It’s a great place, and we’re pretty excited because it’s only a few blocks away from where we live! Hopefully we’ll be able to sneak in to their back yard for some hot tubbing in the near future . In the evening we headed up to another friend’s house for her surprise 30th birthday party. I think she had an inkling that something was going on, but I don’t think she was expecting such a big crowd!

Sunday is football day. I’m in an NFL fantasy football pool with a bunch of friends, and I’m pretty addicted to checking my lineup and hoping my opponent’s players break their legs (kidding…sort of). We met up for brunch at the Kilkenny where they have a pretty decent buffet and a ton of TVs so we can watch all of the games at once. All twelve of us in the league actually made it out this weekend, and it was pretty fun to trash talk and watch each other stress out in person instead of just over group chat. I played soccer on Sunday afternoon, and then came home and watched more football (#addicted).

All in all last weekend was a pretty great mix of family and friends, and staying home and going out. Also, I apparently suck at taking pictures because I only have one from the entire weekend. Oops ! How was your weekend?

Hiking Burstall Pass

Burstall Pass topBurstall Pass Kananaskis top viewAs I’ve mentioned before, I’m a summer girl through and through, but if fall’s going to officially make its appearance there’s nothing to do but embrace it! I really wanted to get out and see some fall colours this year before they disappear, because in Alberta they disappear all too quickly. The internet told me that Burstall Pass was one of the best places to go to see those beautiful yellows, so off to Kananaskis we went!

Burstall Pass Kananaskis trail


Burstall Pass Kananaskis trail marker Burstall Pass Kananaskis meadow selfie Burstall Pass Kananaskis meadow Heather Burstall Pass Kananaskis meadow Zevi BennyThe Burstall Pass hike starts out on a relatively wide and flat trail. You can actually ride your bike for the first three kilometres or so and lock it at a bike rack just off the trail, and we were especially wishing we had wheels when we were ready to get off our feet on the way back. At about the 3.5 kilometre mark we got our first mountain panorama as we stepped into a wide meadow crisscrossed by a zigzagging stream. I expect that navigating the water would be more difficult in spring or early summer, but on the first day of fall it was pretty tame with no treacherous crossings necessary. We could see some larches dotting the rocks in the distance and a glacier gleamed bright white in the sunshine. If you’re looking for an easy stroll, walking out to see the views from this clearing would be absolutely worthwhile!

Burstall Pass Kananaskis trail Burstall Pass Kananaskis trail Zevi Benny Burstall Pass Kananaskis larches

The trail gets a little more challenging from there, with a couple of pretty steep climbs through dense forest broken up by another little meadow jaunt, but it’s nothing that a bus full of seniors can’t handle. Yes, pretty much the only people that hike on a Wednesday are seniors and us, which is great because it meant that we had the trail mostly to ourselves. The hardest part of the whole thing was probably the slippery mud that shortened our steps on the way up and provided a slick runway for Benny to drag us down on the way back. If anyone’s got any tips for making my dog stop pulling me as I try to navigate a steep muddy slope without falling on my face I’m allll ears .

Burstall Pass Kananaskis Heather top Burstall Pass Kananaskis Zevi top Burstall Pass Kananaskis family photo top

We thought we’d reached the top and sat down to eat our lunch, but luckily we got a tip from one of those lovely seniors that if we went just a little bit further the view would be a whole lot better. He was right – the 180 degree view overlooking the valley was well worth those ten extra minutes of walking. The larches were every bit as gorgeous as I’d hoped they’d be, and the mountain vista was one of the best I’ve seen.

Burstall Pass Kananaskis meadow end

I always feel the most at peace when I’m off the grid exploring in nature (yes, I realize the irony of that statement as I publish this on the internet ), and I’m so glad we took the opportunity to hike Burstall Pass while the fall colours are at their finest. The hike’s a pretty long one at fifteen kilometres return, but it’s not overly strenuous, and the views make the effort absolutely worthwhile. If you get out there soon you can catch those yellow trees shining among their green cousins before they go in to hiding for the winter!

Celebrating YYC Pizza Week!

YYC Pizza Week pizza

YYC Pizza Week is almost here, and I, for one, am pretty excited. Anything that gives me an excuse to eat all the pizza is just fine by me, and a ton of Calgary restaurants have come up with amazing sounding creations for this coming week only. As an added bonus, partial proceeds from every pizza you eat benefit Meals on Wheels. You’d be crazy not to go check some of them out before they disappear!

I couldn’t let the pros have all the fun, so I decided to get in on the YYC Pizza Week blogger challenge. A whole bunch of Calgary bloggers were given the chance to create a pizza and have a friendly competition of our own. Game on!

YYC Pizza Week Ingredients

The Italian Store was kind enough to provide us with some ingredients for the challenge, so Zevi and I headed over there to pick them up. As soon as I walked in I was kicking myself for not having discovered this place sooner! There were rows of all of the types of fresh and dried pasta you can imagine, cases filled with every kind of cheese under the sun, and stacks of sausages and cold cuts that had my mouth watering uncontrollably. In other words, it’s pretty much my version of heaven on earth. I picked up my two secret ingredients for the challenge, ricotta cheese and fig jam, as well as some pre made pizza dough, and we couldn’t resist getting some other goodies including giant balls of buffalo mozzarella, mini cheese ravioli, and the brightest green homemade pesto. I’ll definitely be back the next time I have a hankering for Italian cooking!

YYC Pizza Week Pizza closeup

Once we got home with the ingredients it was time to get down to the task at hand – making my championship-calibre pie. I had some incredible truffle salami from The Italian Store and my secret ingredients to work with, and I knew that I wanted to add some fruit for a sweet element.  I originally thought I’d spread the fig jam on the dough as the base for my pizza, but Zevi came up with the brilliant idea to add it to the sliced apples I was sautéing. The result was caramelly-sweet apples that ended up being the star of the dish! I whipped the ricotta with red pepper flakes for a little bit of extra kick and spread it on the dough, followed by the meat and the apples and a few more dollops of ricotta, and popped it in the oven. Once it came out all puffed up and golden brown and beautiful, I topped it with fresh basil and drizzled tangy balsamic glaze and rich olive oil on top. It was love at first bite! I’m not ashamed to say that The Italian Store crust is honestly better than any dough I’ve ever made  – the pizza came out of the oven with a perfectly chewy, crisp bottom crust that made the toppings shine. I may be a little biased, but I think it’s a winner ;).

YYC Pizza Week Burstall Pass

The pizza tasted almost as good the next day when I ate it cold on top of Burstall Pass. Talk about lunch with a view!

What pizzas are you going to try out this week? Beer Revolution’s Bahn Mi, Scopa’s Pizza Dauttono, Nu’s Mamma Mia Umami, and Charbar’s Truffled Pighead Mortadella Fugazza are all calling my name!


New York City – What We Ate (Part 1)

As I said in my first post about New York City, we barely scratched the surface of what there is to eat and drink, but we did check out some pretty great places. Here are some of the notable ones.


This Brooklyn pizza joint came highly recommended by many sources, so we knew its lofty reputation would mean we’d be waiting a while. When we arrived at the restaurant and were told that our table wouldn’t be ready for two hours, though, we briefly questioned whether it was actually worth delaying our dinner until 9:30. We decided to put our name on the list and go for a drink, figuring that we could always head elsewhere if our hunger got out of control.

Luckily we managed to brave the wait, because oh MAN was that pizza good – some of the best I’ve ever had. The concept of the restaurant is very simple – no appetizers, no desserts, no drinks, just pizza. The pizza comes in one size, and tomato sauce, cheese, basil, and garlic are the toppings that are always available. Every day they have different additional toppings, and I somehow convinced Zevi to stray away from his usual plain cheese and add some beef pepperoni and mushrooms to half of the pizza (love that they do half and half!). Normally cured beef doesn’t compare to the pork variety, but this stuff was better than any traditional pepperoni I’ve eaten.We still talk about how amazing that pepperoni was. If only more places had this, I’d be able to get Zevi to share a pizza with me more often! The tomato sauce tasted so incredibly fresh and the crust was thin but not crispy, charred but not burned. There was even extra tomato sauce to dip our crust in to so you never got a dry, boring bite. It was pretty much pizza perfection.

The only drink they serve at Lucali is water, so byob if you’re in to that sort of thing. We are, but we somehow completely forgot to pick up a bottle wine even though we had two hours to wait before we were seated. Rookie mistake!

Pok Pok NY

Based on the amount of times I’ve raved to friends and family about the original Pok Pok in Portland, you’d think that its Brooklyn outpost would’ve been at the top of my list of places to go.  Our research prior to this trip was shoddy at best due to the craziness of both Zevi’s and my life and the time, though, so it was only after we arrived that I realized that my favourite Thai joint was a short train ride from our apartment. Cue the excitement!

Pok Pok wings Pok Pok catfish Pok Pok papaya salad Pok Pok drink

Much like its Portland cousin, Pok Pok NY is pretty unassuming, with weird wood panelled walls and tablecloths that brought to mind some kind of asian/tiki fusion. Unlike our Portland experience, we were able to make a reservation, so when we arrived we were seated pretty much immediately.  Pok Pok’s menu isn’t the easiest to navigate for a pork and shellfish abstainer, but we definitely found enough to satisfy us. I was relieved to see the wings I’d been dreaming about for a couple of years on the menu, and they were just as salty, sticky, and obsession-forming as they’d been the first time.  The flank steak in our salad was so tender and juicy and SPICY, but the fresh herbs and lime (and the giant boozy watermelon slushies) kept our heads from spinning out of control. We fought over the last piece of the melt-in-your mouth Vietnamese catfish. All of Pok Pok’s food is so complex in flavour, with hits of spice, sweetness, salt, and that inexplicable umami hitting you all at once, and I’m pretty sure that keeps me wanting more.

Momofuku Noodle Bar

Zevi Momofuku Momofuku Ramen Momofuku dessert

I was really excited about Momofuku after watching Mind of  a Chef with David Chang, but I have to say that I was kind of disappointed in the ramen. Maybe I hyped it up too much in my mind, but it really wasn’t in the same league as my beloved Shiki Menya. The brisket steam buns we got as an appetizer were also just ok. The desserts, though, were out of this WORLD. We had a Smores Cookie with the perfect chew and the deepest chocolaty flavour and soft serve ice cream with trail mix and raisins, which I was worried would be really weird but turned out to be perfection. I’d definitely skip the noodle bar and head straight to the Milk Bar next time, and that’s saying a lot since dessert is usually an afterthought for me!

Since I’m so long winded I’ll write about some of the other great places we checked out in part 2!

Looking Back to Bogota

Bogota graffitiSometimes it’s hard to be 100% real when I write here. It’s a combination of a lot of things, namely not wanting to complain about things that are pretty trivial in the grand scheme of the world’s problems, trying to find the right balance between what to share and what to keep private, and also trying to stay positive for my own benefit in hopes that my thoughts will manifest themselves into reality.

I’ve been thinking about this today because just barely over a year ago we arrived in Bogota, Colombia to start our big three month trip around South America. I love having my blog posts to look back on now as a way to remember what we did and get a little glimpse in to what I was feeling at the time, but when I read the post I wrote as we were flying over the ocean I know that the whole story isn’t there. I was definitely doing everything I could to put on a brave face and be nonchalant about the whole thing, but I was really scared of landing in Colombia. Despite what I’d been saying to everyone before we left, it was hard to let go of everything that Colombia had been associated with through its troubled past. It was hard not to internalize the worried questions friends and relatives asked us when we told them we’d be starting our trip there, even as I heard myself assure them that everything would be just fine. And in my head I knew that we would be just fine, and that the risks that we faced in Bogota and beyond were risks we could face anywhere. But I still couldn’t get rid of the giant knot in the pit of my stomach as we touched down on South American soil.

We got in to a cab at the airport, and our driver took us in what seemed like circles, going one way and then back the other way on a route that felt all wrong. I felt like all of my worst fears were coming to life. It didn’t help that I was exhausted from a day of travelling and couldn’t seem to put a sentence together in Spanish. In the end, as is the case 99.9% of the time, we got to our hostel completely safe and sound and everything was just fine. We were just fine. And we travelled through Colombia for two more weeks without issue.

I don’t know what the ‘moral’ of this story is, except that maybe it’s a good reminder that the things that we fear seldom turn out to be as terrifying as we think they’ll be. Maybe it’s reminder to myself to not overthink things, and not to let my mind get the best of me. I do know that despite the fears and some of the not so fun adventures we ended up having through the three months we were there, I’d go back to South America in a heartbeat.