bucket-list item 101. try all the salmon eggs bennys in the world

to add to this list

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aphrodite’s organic cafe (vancouver, bc) – good food, shitty service.

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charlie’s little italian (vancouver, bc) – perfect hash browns, amazing benny, and they also do $4.50 caesars/baileys + coffee on weekends.

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cafe zen (vancouver, bc) – pretty ordinary, nothing special.

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oliver bonacini (toronto, on) – love how the eggs benny came on buttermilk & cheddar scones.

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rustic cosmo cafe (toronto, on) – hit the spot, and also came with a nice side salad.

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forage (vancouver, bc) – not usually on the menu and one of their specials of the day, so obviously had to get it.

the best eggs benny in vancouver.

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the bc benny (smoked salmon, cream cheese, and onions – i get it without the onions) they serve at the sunshine diner is the best eggs benny in town. i’ve tried quite a few different places over the years, and have found pretty good ones across the city, but i am sticking with my claim that this is the best eggs benny in vancouver. the hollandaise sauce that they make is to die for. i’m a fan of trying new things, but i can never deviate from my usual order. i love how over the span of almost 10 years, this dish hasn’t changed a single bit and tastes EXACTLY the same. the only thing that’s changed about it is that now it comes with a side of fresh fruit (that’s actually fresh, and not del monte in syrup from a can) and a bowl of homefries (you used to have to add it on for an additional charge), which are both great changes. they also make a pretty mean milkshake – thick, creamy, rich, and absolutely delicious. you can mix flavours together, so i usually go for the butterscotch espresso combo.

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the place itself is super cute – a legitimate 50’s style diner with comfortable booths, jukeboxes, and all the appropriate decor. great vibes, great service, and the best eggs benny in town.

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dubai: no taxes and no cold weather, what’s not to love?

visitng dubai has always been on my bucket-list and recently, i finally got a chance to go. what an incredible city: warm weather, an abundance of nice rooftop lounges, and beach clubs everywhere. my perfect city! definitely a bit excessive at times (aka the indoor snowboarding hill found inside a mall, plus the huge aquarium complete with sharks and diving cages, also found at a mall) but this city has it all. if north america and asia had a baby, they’d name it dubai. it was surprisingly clean, which was a shock to me because most cities in the world that i visit usually aren’t (i’m looking at you new york). it’s an expensive city, but with good reason, and at least the salaries people make there match up. friends that live there are making much more than they would doing the same jobs here in canada, and no one gets taxed on what they earn, which makes a massive difference! there’s also an extensive expatriate community there, which i found really refreshing and comforting, probably because of the way i grew up as a tck. amina, one of my best friends that currently lives there, put together the perfect itinerary for my vacation.

bliss lounge at the sheraton on jbr

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bliss was one of the first places i went to during my trip, and i fell in love immediately. i couldn’t believe that such a place was just a short walk from my friend’s apartment! it reminded me of beach clubs in bali and embodied the definition of “vacation” perfectly. beds right on the beach, waiters coming right up to your bed to serve you food and drinks, deep, chill, house music (accompanied by a live saxophonist), and the softest sand beneath your feet. i know the sand is technically “fake”, but it felt as real as the softest, whitest sand i’ve stepped on in tropical islands in asia. i ordered the rainbow roll and the sushi was surprisingly decent, i was not expecting to find quality sushi in dubai.

barasti

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barasti is another beach club that we went to – not quite as classy as bliss, but still relaxing and fun nonetheless. how casual it is was actually quite refreshing, because most places in dubai won’t let you in without proper footwear (aka no flipflops) and a reservation. great drink and food specials during happy hour, and turns into quite the outdoor beach club at night – there’s nothing like dancing to awesome house music while being barefoot on the sand.

shades at the address hotel (dubai marina)

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the address hotels are a huge chain of upscale hotels in dubai, and one of amina’s clients for work. a rocket pesto linguini with prawns from shades makes the perfect lunch. paired with a drink, on a bed, poolside with a view… you can’t really ask for more.

the palace (address hotel downtown)

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the palace is also part of the address hotel chain, and another place we went for poolside drinks… but this time in tents.

helio

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helio is a place i discovered on my own, while amina was at work one day. it was right on the marina, which looks similar to vancouver’s seawall because it was designed by the same guy. i ordered besara (a traditional egyptian recipe made with puree of skinless foul blended with dill, herbs and garlic, topped with crispy fried onions) that came with pita bread, and my own personal shisha (which is very common there, i swear the air just permanently smells like shisha).

barracuda (on jumeirah road)

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my friend mace took me to this amazing seafood restaurant where we were able to pick our own fresh items and have them cooked. it reminded me a lot of jimbaran in bali. we ordered an assortment of prawns, fish, and clams, along with the side salads and pita bread. i was wondering where the alcohol was on the menu, and mace informed me that no restaurants in dubai could serve alcohol since it was illegal, and that the only places that were allowed to serve alcohol were the ones in hotels. ohhhhh that’s why we were always drinking in hotels! 

tom & serg

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cute contemporary brunch place that originated in australia. i ordered the smoked salmon and poached eggs on zucchini fritters, with hollandaise a side of avocado. it was delicious, gluten-free, and they served great coffee there too.

atmosphere at the burj khalifa

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atmosphere is the lounge on top of the burj khalifa, the tallest building in the world. i can’t even explain how incredible it feels to be up that high. there’s something so calming about being so far from the rest of the world. the lounge has a wooden interior, and i felt like i was on a private jet or a high-class yacht. we had window seats and made it right in time to watch the sunset. these stuffed olives (one of the better bar olives i’ve had in my life) and smoked almonds (they almost tasted like meat) were served with our drinks, and both were incredible tasting.

armani lounge

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also located inside the burj was the armani lounge. your dubai experience isn’t complete until you’ve had a glass of champagne here.

i went to a few more places that aren’t pictured here: mall of the emirates, the dubai mall,(the biggest mall in the world), a “dive bar” (which was still really nice and located in a hotel) to watch the hockey game, the le meridien for poolside drinks to the sunset (where we also saw peacocks just randomly roaming around), and also to eat at maya, the mexican restaurant there (we sneakily got in without having proper reservations), and some restaurant next to the burj, which had a great view of the fountain show. one week in dubai definitely wasn’t enough time and there’s so much more i want to do (like the all you can eat and drink brunch at atlantis, the palm) but not to worry… dubai, i’ll be back.

so what is #100happydays?

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#100happydays #todayiamgratefulfor smoked salmon eggs benny

as well as being part of my #100happydays post for february 1, 2014, the smoked salmon eggs benny from the rumpus room can also be added to my list.

i kept seeing “#100happydays” pop up on a few of my friends instagram pictures, and wondered why everyone was using that hashtag. so i decided to google it. it came up with a pretty intriguing project and challenge:

can you be happy for 100 days in a row?

“we live in times when super-busy schedules have become something to boast about. while the speed of life increases, there is less and less time to enjoy the moment that you are in. the ability to appreciate the moment, the environment and yourself in it, is the base for the bridge towards long term happiness of any human being.

71% of people tried to complete this challenge, but failed quoting lack of time as the main reason. these people simply did not have time to be happy. do you?”

you then register on the site, choose your social media platform to submit your pictures (i picked instagram), use the #100happydays hashtag with a hashtag of your own (mine is #todayiamgratefulfor), and post pictures of anything in your day that made you happy.

i’m only two days into the challenge, but already i’ve become more aware of little moments in life that i am truly grateful for, mainly relating to the amazing people in it. i’ve always stopped to take time to reflect on and appreciate the life given to me, but to do it 100 days in a row, via a picture on instagram, is definitely going to take some effort. but… challenge accepted, and i fully intend on being one of the 29% of people that complete it.

follow me on my journey here.

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bali: my personal travel recommendations

after almost a decade, i returned back to one of my favourite places on earth this december – bali. boy has it changed. first of all… traffic?! secondly, wow has it become expensive! this isn’t the cheap asia i used to know and love. pitchers of sangria at potato head were $50! i wouldn’t even pay those prices here in vancouver, which is allegedly, the most expensive city to live in north america. also, “the place to be” has changed from kuta to seminyak (although it was nice to see apache, bounty, and paddys still all there on the streets of kuta). but despite the traffic, the inflated prices, and all the rain that happened in the two weeks we were there, beautiful bali still remains on my list as one of my favourite places in this world. there’s just something inexplicably magical about it that will always remain close to my heart.

here are some of my personal travel recommendations taken from my recent trip back:

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have a bintang – you’re in bali, it’s obligatory to make this beer your first drink. it might also be the only thing you drink, since it is significantly cheaper than all the other drinks on any menu. it was even cheaper than the mocktails (cocktails without the alcohol aka JUICE) my mom drank.

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eat nasi goreng (fried rice), mie goreng (fried noodles), and satay ayam (chicken satay) from a warung. “warung murah” was the best warung we ate at on this trip. “warung” is a stall on the side of the road that serves food and “murah” means “cheap” in indonesian. warung murah can be found down the street from seminyak square and serves legitimate indonesian food for very cheap prices (especially considering it’s located in seminyak). a plate of nasi goreng or mie goreng was around $3 (or less, i can’t remember the exact prices). the satay ayam (pictured above) was my favourite.

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grab a bed at potato head and watch the sunset. despite the $50 pitchers of sangria, potato head still served $4 bintangs (our beer of choice not necessarily out of choice, but more out of cost). the beds have a minimum spend of 500,000 rupiah (around $50), which is not hard to do with drinks and sunset snacks. there’s an infinity pool that overlooks the beach and is equipped with a swim-up bar. deep house music + the views + good company + a drink in your hand = ultimate relaxation.

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watch the sunset at kudeta and order from their “grazing” menu. they actually have a grazing menu. kudeta is very similar to potato head (in prices and vibes), and another great place to go to relax and catch the sunset. we even went for a dip in the ocean and came right back. their moroccan eggplant house made dip served with pita bread (pictured above) is so tasty, and their no kisses for you tonight (confit garlic puree, parmesan, parsley and mozzarella) pizza (also pictured above) is simple, yet so delicious.

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experience the best seafood in the world at jjimbaran. i’ve been to a few of the restaurants lined up along the beach, and all have been spectacular. you can pick out what you want to eat (crab, lobster, fish, etc.) and you can literally pick the specific live pieces you want to eat from the tanks out front of each of the restaurants. they will then prepare your meal for you fresh, and serve it with a side of rice and kangkong (water spinach) stir-fried with chili and spices. a little fresh fruit platter is also served for dessert. there are tables and chairs set up right on the beach where you can enjoy a nice meal by the ocean. heinekens were actually the same price as bintangs at the restaurant we ate at during christmas eve, which was a welcomed change.

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stay in a poolside room at the vansanti, create a makeshift swim-up bar, and eat breakfast overlooking rice-terraces. for around $60 a night (expedia deal) we lucked out by getting a room that was literally connected to the pool. i thought the concierge was speaking metaphorically when he said that the room was so close to the pool that you could jump in… but it was meant in a literal sense, because you could just jump into the pool from your room since the patio (equipped with lounge chairs) is connected to the pool. the staff is extremely friendly and so accommodating. the free buffet breakfast that’s included is amazing – the food in general at the restaurant was great, which was surprising for a hotel. there’s a rooftop lounge located on the sixth floor with impeccable bali sunset views.

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chill on a beanbag along jalan double six. this was, hands down, my favourite part about bali that didn’t exist ten years ago. this strip of the beach is quiet and lined with restaurants that lay out beanbags right on the beach. servers come right up to you to take your order and serve you beer and food on the beach. there are also women who walk around randomly offering spa-services, such as mani/pedis.

what are your favourite things to do in bali and favourite places to go to? please leave me a note in the comments, i’d love to hear your own personal travel recommendations!

whistler: new discoveries and opening day

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i don’t think anyone has ever mentioned a restaurant to me in whistler that i haven’t heard of or tried… until this weekend. maybe it’s because i’ve never really explored creekside fully, but the southside diner is a hidden gem that i experienced for the first time this weekend. the one that didn’t get away is their salmon eggs benny and it is delicious. the entire place is very cozy and cute, with an open kitchen that made me want to try everything that the cooks were making.

i’ve always known that no matter how many times you go up on the mountains, and no matter how familiar they become, you can always discover something new; it’s nice that the same concept can apply off the mountain as well.

opening day at whistler is one of my favourite days. maybe it’s because i went a whole six months without the place, but as soon as i step foot into the village, this giddy feeling of “i’m home!!” washes over me. the snow is always better than expected, and it just feels sooooo good to be riding again; i can’t even put the euphoria i feel during that very first run into words, because the term “euphoria” is definitely an understatement. every time i’m in whistler, i just feel so peaceful and content, and realize it’s a big part of why i worked so hard to stay in vancouver for all these years.

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november 16, 2013 – whistler, opening day. photo taken by olga fedorov.

the burnt toast cafe, whitehorse

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i was flown out to white horse a couple of months ago to run this promo for pedigree, who partnered up with the animal shelter for this event – it was one of the best promos i’ve ever done, and so hard not to take a puppy home with me! it was my first (and potentially last) time in whitehorse – the people were really nice, but the town was extremely small and surprisingly expensive. the buildings were old and worn down – it was like the town was built in the 1950’s and was just never touched or updated again. my $170 a night “hotel” room was on the first floor, didn’t come with air-conditioning (it came with an electric-fan standing in the corner), had 20 channels on the tv (half of them were static), and had this sign sitting in the bathroom:

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i arrived late at night, realized i didn’t have cellphone service (apparently there are no rogers towers in whitehorse), checked-in, and was terrified that someone was hiding in the closet ready to murder me.

the sun came out the next morning though, and i’m pretty sure i discovered one of the best things about whitehorse – the burnt toast cafe. it was located right across the street from my hotel, and served a phenomenal breakfast. i sat right by the window, and the sun shined directly on me while i ate my delicious meal (here’s their brunch menu) and drank my coffee. the waitresses were so friendly (i found that everyone i met in whitehorse was generally quite nice) and the place itself was super cute.

would i ever come back to whitehorse? probably for this cafe, to see the northern lights (but i’d stay at this resort next time), and to see this face again:

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