the best steak in vegas (and possibly in the world)

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cut by wolfgang puck knows how to make the perfect steak. they bring the raw meat out to your table, so you can pick exactly which cut of meat you want; they make the steak in a 1,500 degree broiler oven, so its charred perfectly on the outside, and i ask for it medium-rare (but more on the rare side), so it’s juicy and tender on the inside.

all the sides i’ve ever ordered were all awesome as well. even the bread and butter they serve at the beginning is phenomenal – it tastes like they churn their own butter at the back of the restaurant!

food quality: 10/10

presentation: 10/10

taste: 12/10

service: 10/10

overall experience: perfection.

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sparkling hills: a day in the life

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8 am – get out of bed (after almost nine hours of sleep) and go to breakfast in my robe. request a table next to the window and enjoy a free buffet breakfast of meats & cheeses, scones, a spinach salad with strawberries & a ton of goat cheese, veggies & hummus, potatoes, slow-roasted glazed ham, sausages, and coffee.

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8:30 am – go back to the room, open the sliding window, and tan in the sun while digesting the meal that could have fed the entire country of china.

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9 am – transfer to the pool (despite the weather network telling me it’s only 12 degrees outside) because it’s too hot in the room. grab the only lounge chair in the sun at this hour, and resume “beached whale” position.

11 am – contemplate running away and living here forever. look up property while laying by the pool. find out that you can buy a two-bedroom/two-bath (plus den), 1,475 sq. ft. property on the golf course for the price of a one-bedroom 500 sq. ft. condo in vancouver.

11:30 am – take a sip of ice-cold water from my swell waterbottlehow is it still so cold?! it’s been sitting in the direct sunlight for the past two hours! amazing. feel pleased with myself for making good life decisions.

12 pm – i wonder what the temperature is, this is perfect. check temperature: 18 degrees. yup, that’s my perfect temperature.

1 pm – go for a dip in the pool, because it’s starting to get a little too hot. get out and resume “beached whale” position, and enjoy temperature reset.

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1:45 pm – fill up water bottle with cucumber water from the tea lounge, and enjoy a cup of tea.

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2 pm – return to pool area, because life is better outside.

3 pm – the sun has fully disappeared. maybe i should go to the gym…

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3:45 pm – gym time. am i voluntarily doing dumbbell thrusters??

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4:30 pm – i need a snack. i should probably also wish my dad a “happy father’s day” because of the time difference.

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5:30 pm – join a semi-private yoga class in the most beautiful studio.

6:45 pm – pour a glass of wine, turn the music on, put this blog post together, and make my way around all the steam and sauna rooms before bed. set my alarm so that i have time for breakfast before my massage tomorrow morning.

i can’t even explain the type of serenity that comes over me every time i stay at this place. it’s as if nothing in my life actually matters and i’m just so content sitting here, staring at these views. i’m not missing anyone, i’m not longing for anything, i’m not replaying the past, i’m not planning for the future or running through to-do lists in my head… i’m literally just sitting here, soaking in the view and just breathing. it’s relaxation at its finest.

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“sometimes, you just need a break. in a beautiful place. alone. to figure everything out.”

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.

reflections, hotel georgia.

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i absolutely LOVE the rooftop patio at reflections, located at hotel georgia – it makes me feel like i’m on vacation, at a spa resort in asia. ok so the term “rooftop patio” might be a little deceiving as a description since it’s only on the fourth floor, but i guess it’s as “rooftop” as vancouver gets. for some reason, vancouver doesn’t have any 50th floor+ ACTUAL rooftop patios – city bylaws maybe? it’s such a shame because a rooftop patio in vancouver would be absolutely stunning! every city in the WORLD seems to know how to build proper rooftop patios, why can’t vancouver get it right?!

anyway, back to my review on reflections and off the topic of my “whyyyyy are there no rooftop patios in vancouver?!” rant. so yes, awesome space (well i’ve only been on the patio, so i can only give my opinion on that). decently priced beers ($7/$8 – comparable to most places in this city), but the wine is a bit pricey (i think the cheapest glass is like $13). the moscow mule is an amazing cocktail – a definite must-try. the food here is tasty, but pricey – i think a salad i had once was around $13. the fried potatoes bravas is probably the best bang-for-your-buck – at $7, it’s big enough to share, filling, and very flavourful.

the ambience is what does it for me though. it’s definitely a bit pricier than most places but it’s still also cheaper than an actual vacation, so it does the trick.

the best nachos i’ve ever made

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that title should say “the best nachos i’ve helped make” actually, since these nachos were a team effort.

ingredients: tortilla chips, shredded cheese, cooked bacon, cooked ham, cooked sausages, beans, and olives.

we probably could have loaded it with more stuff, but we had to make-do with what we had. layering the nachos properly is KEY.

i spent the weekend up at baker with a few friends and all we did the entire weekend was eat, drink, and laugh. it was amazing. even though baker is only a little over an hour away from vancouver, it really felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. our cabin also had no internet or cell service and i cannot even put into words how wonderful that was. it’s so nice to completely disconnect, but so hard to do it fully, especially when you have the option to check your phone every second. it really makes such a difference when everyone is forced to disconnect from the outside world and just be really present in the moment with the people they are surrounded with. such a great weekend.

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sun valley, idaho

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bucket-list item #20. learn how to snowboard (whistler, 2006) snowboard everywhere.

i know this might be hard to believe, but going to sun valley, idaho has been on the top of my travel list for quite some time now. it just seemed like such a magical place in the middle of nowhere, so different to anywhere i’ve ever been… and it was. i’m convinced any place that takes effort to get to (we had to fly into boise in a propellor plane, and then drive two hours through the mountains) is usually worth it. we were literally in the middle of nowhere, and i can’t even explain in words how good that felt. the mountains were steep, the sun was shining, people were friendly, and the food was great. it’s a shame most of the places we ate at were at night/too dark to take decent food pictures, but amongst the many meals i had was the brass ranch meatloaf (buffalo, lamb, wild boar bacon, hunters’ sauce, smashed potatoes) from our sleigh-ride dinner at trail creek cabin (we actually took a sleigh-ride to and from dinner!!), a whole artichoke with dip, where you rip off the leaves one by one and scrape them with your teeth (i’ve never had this before in my life, but apparently it’s a common dish that a lot of people have had) from the pioneer saloon (locals call it the pio), an array of amazing sushi (apparently they get their fish imported from hawaii every morning) at zou’sshrimp enchiladas from ck’s, and $10 pitchers at one of the lodges at the mountain. TEN DOLLARS! not bad for a ski-resort.

my friend lauren and i got interviewed for the idaho news while we were at the skijoring event (the picture below can explain it better than i can in words): lauren told them that some of her high-school friends were “driving the horses” at the event, and i told them that i would rather live in idaho than new york city… and i meant it.

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