My Mad Food Diary

After 3 long weeks in Texas, itโ€™s time to go back home and lose the weight from all the food I ate! ๐Ÿ˜‚ Here are some of the highlights though one thing I wonโ€™t miss is the heat! ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ

5th Aug- Starting off my summer in Texas with a citrusy rosรฉ slush ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿน
5th Aug- Dinner at Chili Parlor: their signature chili and gumbo. This is one of my favourite spots from my last trip.
5th Aug- Ice Cream at Lick. Yep thatโ€™s the name! Had it like 5 times when I was staying at Mueller. ๐Ÿ‘… ๐Ÿ‘… The Texas sheet cake and lime-coconut-tequila flavours were addictive!
6th Aug- Brunch at Colleenโ€™s Kitchen. Finally I have tried fried green tomatoes! ๐Ÿ˜‹
Biscuits and gravy with fried egg ๐Ÿณ The biscuits were the best I ever had- fluffy and light. โค๏ธ Got to say I have not been converted to the creamy American white gravy (just a bit too heavy for me), still preferred the traditional brown gravy.
6th Aug: After a hearty brunch, something light for change with a poke bowl.
6th Aug- Dinner at Asterโ€™s Ethiopian Restaurant. Absolutely bringing the heat here! ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ
7th Aug- Sunday farmersโ€™ market. Bubble tea is conquering the world now!
Pierogies ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘
7th Aug- Baoโ€™d Up Asian comfort food
Not food ๐Ÿ˜‚ but loved this cute mural
8th Aug- Back at Colleenโ€™s Kitchen. Absolutely delicious shrimp and grits (with collard greens) ๐Ÿคค๐Ÿคค
8th Aug- Never seen these kind of aubergines before (or eggplants as they say in America ๐Ÿ˜›)
8th Aug- Late night treat at Amyโ€™s Ice Cream
9th Aug- First time BBQing in the heat. Delicious lamb riblets from the farmersโ€™ market with a coffee rub. Stuffed the eggplants yesterday with garlic.
10th Aug- A light breakfast with Chobani lime yoghurt. Getting ready for a feast later.
10th Aug- Pre-ordered Franklin BBQ feast. The most famous brisket in Austin and it was so tender it melts in your mouth. ๐Ÿคค We did the pre ordering to avoid the massive long queue in the heat, but you must order at least 5 lbs of meat (complimentary bread and pickles). For 2 persons, this lasted us a good few days eating leftovers. ๐Ÿ˜‚
10th Aug- Ice cream is the best cure for the heat!
11th Aug- The Baked Bear. The signature Cookie Monster ice cream sandwich. ๐Ÿช๐Ÿช
13th Aug- Saturday farmersโ€™ market. This chicken mole tamale is so good – I need to come back again! ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‚
13th Aug- Happy Birthday Austin! This is a free birthday cupcake. Amazing colours ๐ŸŒˆ but the frosting was very bitter from all the colourings they addedโ€ฆ
13th Aug- BBQ again. Lamb shoulder steak with garlic stuffed green peppers.
13th Aug- Relaxing evening in Mozart Cafรฉ by Lake Austin. ๐ŸŽต๐ŸŽถ๐ŸŽต๐ŸŽถ
14th Aug- Brunch at Snooze. Perfect combo of crab cake egg Benedict with their signature Bloody Mary. ๐Ÿคค๐Ÿฆ€๐Ÿ…
14th Aug- Dinner at 1618 Asian Fusion. Loved these duck skewers! Wish they were more!
Salmon curry and steak stir fry! โค๏ธ
14th Aug- Someone was drunk in the Calum Scottโ€™s concert and needed to grab a kimchi hot dog to soak up the alcohol. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿฅด๐ŸŒญ
14th Aug- I blame the person who made drunk me grab a bakersโ€™ dozen of these gigantic Voodoo Doughnut! They are bigger than my hands!! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ฑ Oh the traumaโ€ฆ
15th Aug- Sip Pho. Very much needed something light after the doughnuts last night! ๐Ÿ˜‚
15th Aug- Kimbap dinner before boarding the late bus to San Marcos.
15th Aug- Arrived at San Marcos at 10pm after an-hour delayed bus. ๐ŸšŒ Grabbed a Sonic limonade slush.
16th Aug- First meal at San Marcos. Egg white frittata.
16th Aug- Dinner at Garciaโ€™s. One of the best Mexican food I ever had! The brisket Noteรฑa plate was absolutely! ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ Simple but high quality.
17th Aug- Back at Austin with the grill. ๐Ÿ”ฅ Grilled salmon with garlic spaghetti for dinner.
17th Aug- Doing what I know best! ๐Ÿ˜‚
18th Aug- Drinking bubble tea and sheltering from the sudden heavy rain. โ˜”๏ธ (Didnโ€™t know they rain in Texas! ๐Ÿ˜‚)
18th Aug- Dirty Martinโ€™s Place. Austinโ€™s oldest burger since 1926!
19th Aug- Foodheads. Sirloin steak salad for lunch! ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ‘
19th Aug- Vic and Alโ€™s. Blackened catfish salad, Cochon de Lait poโ€™boy and liver Boudin – the delicious Cajun flavours ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ
20th Aug- Brunch at Arturoโ€™s. Look at that Hollandaise sauce! ๐Ÿคค
20th Aug- Told ya I will come back for the tamales! ๐Ÿ˜‚ They ran out of chicken mole ones, but this spring vegetables (recommended by the still vendor) tasted even better! Itโ€™s light and fresh with the colourful vegetables inside!
20th Aug- Ciscoโ€™s. President LBJโ€™s favourite dining place.
The chicken fried steak is so delicious with the lightly fried courgettes! (Even minus the creamy gravy) My friend ordered their signature migas and I kept wanting to steal it because it was so good (perfectly silky scrambled eggs)! Maybe I do have the taste buds of a president! ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ˜‚
21st Aug- Really wanted to eat migas after yesterday night but this one was nowhere near as good! โ˜น๏ธ
21st Aug- One final BBQ! Lamb leg steak, grilled garlic peppers and aubergines and my friendโ€™s tomatillo salsa. I am going to miss the โ€œlamb ladyโ€ (so I called) from the farmersโ€™ market.
22nd Aug- Was worried I have eaten too much lately. ๐Ÿ˜‚ So ordered a vegan breakfast plate- and I really enjoyed the scrambled tofu.
22nd Aug- Clay Pit Indian Restaurant. Exploring their cellar area. (This place is busy so always book in advance!) Just so happened there was a flash flood warning from the storm earlier, you could smell the dampness in there. ๐Ÿ’ฆ
Yummy calamari as our starter.
Chicken medallions korma curry and tandoori salmon. It was a bit of a long wait, but the waiter was so nice taking the drinks off the bill as a compensation. ๐Ÿ˜Š
23rd Aug- Venezuelan arepas in the UT campus. Blending in well with the UT students! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸŽ“
23rd Aug- Dinner spot of the lone Ceviche7 food truck. Canโ€™t wait to try the Peruvian food.
Was a long wait (probably like half an hour?) but it was worth it! Delicious ceviche with corns and sweet potatoes! ๐Ÿคค My friendโ€™s steak and fries was also very good! I love food truck!
24th Aug- Junk good day at Whataburger. Still taking time to process the creamy gravy and the giant soft drink cup. ๐Ÿ˜
24th Aug- Feeling creative. Tomato-less Spaghetti Bolognese with sweet curried mince and Granny Smith apple. ๐Ÿ You got to try it to believe it! ๐Ÿ˜œ
25th Aug- Vietnamese lunch before heading to the airport. โœˆ๏ธ

Toronto Day 2: Graffiti ๐ŸŽจ and Waterfall ๐ŸŒŠ

After the first busy day in Toronto, think maybe I should give myself a little break? Nah, itโ€™s packing in more and more! Two of my destinations on the itinerary were Graffiti Alley (recommended by my friend who visited before) and the legendary Niagara Falls! So it was up early in the morning and journey on! ๐Ÿƒโ€โ™‚๏ธโ˜€๏ธ

Graffiti alley was a decent half an hour walk from the Union Station, so it was perfect to walk off the breakfast calories lol! The artistry there really was very impressive, and it were pictures after pictures with my phone! ๐Ÿ“ธ ๐Ÿ“ธ These are some of my favourites below (and I still have even more pics but I thought letโ€™s not go overboard! ๐Ÿ˜‚) Which one of these is your favourite? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Afterwards, I found a little spot for lunch and ordered the Canadian national dish of poutine. I wonโ€™t say it was very impressive (to my British brain, it was essentially chips, gravy and โ€œhalloumiโ€-like cheese ๐Ÿ˜…). But whatโ€™s not to like?

Poutine

I then returned to the Union Station area as I await my pick up bus to Niagara Falls. I ordered via FlixBus online, costing me just under ยฃ40 for the return journey (it was expensive ๐Ÿ’ธ๐Ÿ’ธ though it appeared to be my cheapest option from the recommendations at the tourist information centre. The only cheaper option was the seasonal weekend bus which I unfortunately would miss- apparently they are only CA$10 for a return ticket in comparison!!)

The bus pick up spot was at a weird cross junction down by the Harbourfront (8 York Street). It was hidden right behind some large scaffolding, so I almost missed it until I spot a large group of people queueing by the bus.๐Ÿ˜… The bus itself is around a 2-hour journey to the Niagara Falls, so it was time to sit back and relax (and charge my phone lol). ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿ”Œ

Upon arriving, I took the inclined railway down the cliff (costing only CA$3 and it was super quick) to the Nigara Falls. And the spectacular views really were worth the journey! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

The roaring Niagara Falls
It was very cooling – cause the splashes even sprinkled on you on the high cliff! ๐Ÿ’ฆ๐Ÿ’ฆ
The ferry โ›ด braving the storm! ๐ŸŒŠ (They do tours down there in the water but I was a bit short on time plus they were a bit too expensive for me especially after spending so much already on the bus tickets! ๐Ÿ˜”)
Rainbow ๐ŸŒˆ at the waterfall (how lucky!)
Rainbow bridge to the US borders

With four hours to spend until my return bus, I decided to head over the State side of the Niagara Falls (in the state of New York) by crossing the Rainbow Bridge through to the US border. ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Just a short tour before my flight to Texas tomorrow ๐Ÿ˜‚ and it was a straightforward crossing plus a small fee (make sure you have all your travel documents with you though!) The only extra thing right now (due to current COVID restrictions) is you will need to fill in the ArriveCAN form again before reentering Canada.

Crossing the borders
Leaving Canada ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ ๐Ÿ‘‹
The flags marking the two borders
Welcome to USA! ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ
New York, New York!
Looking over back at Canada from the US!

By the time I got back to Toronto downtown, it was already almost 9 at night ๐ŸŒƒ (and I got an early morning flight the next day urgh ๐Ÿ˜ช). But I did manage to capture the beautiful red sky form the sunset! ๐ŸŒ… (And enough to tempt me for a short wander around the city hehe!)

CN Tower in the sunset

After a small dinner back in my hotel room (with the leftovers noodles from Chinatown I left in the fridge yesterday ๐Ÿ˜‚), I made sure my alarm clock was set for my flight to Texas tomorrow morning! ๐ŸŒ„

6am at the airport ๐Ÿฅฑ and juice breakfast ๐Ÿฅค
Very small plane! My head could almost touch the ceiling! (And I am 5 ft 6โ€ฆ ๐Ÿ˜‚)
Flying over Texas โœˆ๏ธ

See you guys in USA! ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

Toronto Day 1: A Fast-Paced Metropolitan ๐Ÿƒโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿƒโ€โ™‚๏ธ

So finally itโ€™s summer and my sabbatical has also officially begun! ๐Ÿ˜Ž And this August, I have planned for a long trip away from the UK as I will be visiting both Canada ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ and USA ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ for the entire month, so let the adventure begins! ๐Ÿƒโ€โ™‚๏ธ

Amazing scenery of Greenland as we flew over on the way to Canada โ„๏ธโ„๏ธ

Jetting off from Glasgow Airport in the early morning (spent a night over there after taking a bus from Edinburgh), the flight โœˆ๏ธ lasted around 7.5 hours before landing in Toronto. Though I had been running very low on sleep ๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ˜ช since leaving home, but I managed to muster enough energy to head to downtown after checking into my hotel located near the Pearson airport.

Terminal changing train

From Terminal 1 Pearson airport. one may take the UP Express at the cost of just under CA$13 to Union Station in downtown (and they only offer one-way and no cheaper return optionโ€ฆ ๐Ÿ’ธ๐Ÿ’ธ) I stayed near Terminal 3, but it was a very easy change to Terminal 1 using the free terminal changing train.

Union Station in Toronto Downtown

Toronto was a huge, busy metropolitan (in my opinion, rivals New York!) and a fast-paced city with an almost futuristic feel to it. I was a bit blown away by the intensity at first, but at the same time, it was totally unforgettable. ๐Ÿ˜Š

What a metropolitan the city is! ๐Ÿ™
Trio of tacos for lunch! ๐ŸŒฎ ๐ŸŒฎ ๐ŸŒฎ
Loving the skyscrapers!
Busy busy busy!
๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

After a brief lunch break, I headed to Jack Layton Ferry Terminal to board the ferry โ›ด heading to Toronto Island Park. The glorious sunny weather was perfect for a combo of sailing, park day and being by water! ๐Ÿ˜†โ˜€๏ธ

Terminal entrance
Boarding the ferry
Amazing skyline of Toronto! ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ™
โ›ด โ›ด
Toronto Island Park
Pier sea view (not going to lie but there was an awful stench by the beach there!! ๐Ÿคข)

I also visited the Franklin Childrenโ€™s Garden – temporarily turning back into a kid again as I navigated around the bushes and joined in the scenes! There was something quite magical about it!

After boarding the ferry back to the main land of Toronto, there were forecasts of heavy rain and severe thunderstorms ๐Ÿ˜จ (and also just when I left my umbrella ๐ŸŒ‚ in the hotel!) But, after some initial hesitance, I decided to take the risk and walk to Chinatown for dinner – praying I could make it back before the rain falls! ๐Ÿƒโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’จ

Toronto Chinatown

Toronto Chinatown was certainly unlike any in the UK – the moment I entered the community I completely felt like I was back in Hong Kong/China and the nostalgia hit me like a ton of bricks. After some wandering around (it was so big and I was totally spoiled for choices), I managed to find an eatery that really resembled those I used to visit as a child in Hong Kong and ordered some old classic favourites. ๐Ÿ˜‹

Squid fish balls and my favourite childhood drink- soya milk! Classic combo!
Bean paste mince noodles was one of my favourite comfort food as a kid! This one was so gigantic though that I had to take a doggy bag home ๐Ÿ˜‚
Even the ticket brought back so much memories! ๐Ÿฅฐ๐Ÿฅฐ
Yakult bubble tea! ๐Ÿ‘Œ

And it turned out the weather forecast didnโ€™t happen ๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜†, so I skipped down the streets of Toronto with my takeout bag and bubble tea in hands as I crashed into a deep sleep back in my hotel room! ๐Ÿ˜ด A long day was finally over!

A Long Hot Weekend โ˜€๏ธ๐Ÿ”ฅ

For those of you in the south of England like me, you would know that we have been hit by a massive heatwave ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ (red warning alert! ๐Ÿšจ) With Monday and Tuesday forecasted to be the hottest days ever, I am so glad that my workplace has decided to switch to remote working for the two days (like come on, we donโ€™t even have air con!!), which means I also got a โ€œsort ofโ€ 4-day long weekend as I head into my final week in London! ๐Ÿ˜‰ My work colleagues have been so nice doing leaving-dos with me going bowling and meals for two days in a row, which means I only got some alone time until Sunday and I sure kept my day busy that day!

On Sunday, despite a massive broke down in the Central line, I managed to cross back to the other side of London via the overground visiting the Van Gogh exhibition I have been wanting to see for weeks. (Like literally itโ€™s popping up every other day on my Instagram lol! ๐Ÿ˜‚)

The signature sunflowers marking the the entrance
Van Gogh
The famous Starry Night at the top
Cafรฉ Terrace at Night – always get a sense of nostalgia seeing this painting as we used to have one back in my old family home
And of course the Sunflowers! ๐ŸŒป ๐ŸŒป

I was so surprised when I learnt that Van Gogh has been heavily inspired by Japanese culture (a favourite of mine!) Moreover, it was so amazing to see many of his arts brought into 3โ€“D form.

Wasnโ€™t sure if it was a geisha or a mermaid lol๐Ÿ˜‚
A 3-D replica of Van Goghโ€™s bedroom
Going back in time ๐Ÿ•ฐ
Can you tell this is 3D?

I then also had a play around in the colouring room! ๐ŸŽจ ๐Ÿ˜‚

Everyone is showcasing their skills here hehe!
How does my colouring skills look? ๐Ÿ˜‚

And finally into the Immersive Room watching the show as the amazing arts are projected live in the giant room. Here are some of my favourite snapshots!

Swallowed by the big waves! ๐ŸŒŠ ๐ŸŒŠ
Such beautiful night sky! ๐Ÿ˜โœจโœจ
Ambushed by sunflowers haha! ๐Ÿ˜‚

After the exhibition, I spent more time exploring the hipster neighbourhood of Shoreditch and the famous Brick Lane, and ended up eating lots of street food. (Was supposed to cut down a bit but I got so tempted! ๐Ÿ˜‚)

Yay Shoreditch!
Wow! Curry fish balls from my childhood – and so nice to pump into some fellow Hong Kongers running a stall here! ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ‘
Cheeeesy corn dog! ๐Ÿง€ ๐Ÿง€ ๐Ÿง€

And after 5 years in London, I finally got around visiting to the famous Brick Lane Beigel Bake! Worth the wait though! (A massive chunk of salt beef covered with gherkins and mustard- whatโ€™s not to love? ๐Ÿ˜‚)

Very busy inside the store – but the queue moved really quick thank goodness! (Wasnโ€™t sure how long I could bear standing in the sun!)
The world famous salt beef bagel. Look at the size of the meat! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ (And now I am already craving to come back for another one!)

After a rather lazy day on Monday shading away from the heat, I eventually managed to brave the heat in the evening to see the new Minions movie! ๐ŸŽฅ ๐Ÿฟ Such a cute and whole movie, have you seen it yet?

Back to Paris: A Duoโ€™s Journey ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท

After almost three years, my trip in Paris still stays as one of my most memorable journey of all times given it was my first time travelling solo oversea. So, for this bank holiday weekend, I canโ€™t be more excited of going back!

This time, however, instead of travelling solo I will be exploring it with my bestie! ๐Ÿƒโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ And we kicked the first night with a late, boozy dinner at Dรฉviant! ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿฅ‚

These octopus ceviche tostada were so delicious! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜
From left to right clockwise: Beef tartare, pistachio gnocchi, pollock pil-pil and rhubarb sorbet

Hoping we werenโ€™t too hungover the next morning, we stopped by a beautiful smelling bakery on our way to the Louvre museum! ๐Ÿคค I ordered a delicious gammon quiche which as I was taking a picture, dropped onto the floor!! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ฑ (but 10-second rule right?? ๐Ÿ˜‚)

Smells so good! ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹
The Louvre

The Louvre was packed full of people on the day just like last time. However, this time I was smart enough to reserve a ticket beforehand, but it still took quite some time queuing to get in! Finally, I get to meet the famous Mona Lisa (my friend wasnโ€™t as enthusiastic about her though! ๐Ÿ˜‚)

The famous Mona Lisa (so many people around it!!)
I really enjoyed the Egyptian section of the museum
Spinx
Big and strong Hercules! ๐Ÿ’ช ๐Ÿ’ช
Beautiful sculpture
My bestie is having fun! ๐Ÿ˜‚
Napoleon III Apartments at the Richelieu Wing
I do love chandeliers! โค๏ธ (But also very warm in the room haha! ๐Ÿฅต)
The stunning banquet room

After a brief rest, we then embarked on our long walk towards the Eiffel Tower, passing by Cafรฉ de Flore and Luxembourg Garden on the way! (Completely broke my record of steps that day haha! ๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿƒโ€โ™‚๏ธ)

Fro-yo to recharge! ๐Ÿ˜
Grand Bassin Rond – the weather was so good that โ˜€๏ธ โ˜€๏ธ we sunbathed here for a bit!
Cafรฉ de Flore
Medici Fountain at Luxembourg Garden
Luxembourg Palace โ˜€๏ธโ˜€๏ธ
Second meal of gelato – needed it hahaha! ๐Ÿ˜‚
Quiet streets of Paris
Dinner time – and bestie absolutely refused to eat the snails! ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐ŸŒ ๐ŸŒ
Climbing up the stairs of Eiffel Tower ๐Ÿ’ช
The view of Paris up at the Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower at night โœจโœจ
Midnight in Paris ๐Ÿฅฐ๐Ÿฅฐ
Second dinner – someone is REALLY hungry after all the walking! ๐Ÿ˜‚ (and itโ€™s not me! ๐Ÿคฃ)

The next day we then visited the spectacular Petit Palais. A perfect spot for some morning relaxation and a light brunch! ๐Ÿฅฐ๐Ÿฅฐ

The golden front gate of Petit Palais
Inside Petit Palais
Beautiful garden ๐ŸŒฟ๐ŸŒฟ at the centre
Roast chicken breast brunch ๐Ÿ‘

Maximising the time spent outdoor in the glorious weather, we also went picnicking back at Tuileries Garden by the Louvre as well as visiting the rooftop of Galeries Lafayette.

The most sophisticated supermarket packed lunch I have seen! ๐Ÿ˜† (Love how the olive oil and vinegar came in a tube!) Also realised many of this packed lunches in Paris donโ€™t include cutlery inside – so you need to buy your own one.
Palais Garner
The rooftop of Galeries Lafayette
๐Ÿ‘ฌ๐Ÿ‘จโ€โค๏ธโ€๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿณ๏ธโ€๐ŸŒˆ
Another gelato snack – FYI stracciatella ๐Ÿซ and lemon ๐Ÿ‹ sorbet is a magnificent combo!
A final walk down Passage Jouffroy

My bestie was heading back to London a day earlier than me, so after saying goodbye ๐Ÿ‘‹ to her at Gare du Nord, I am running solo again for the rest of trip! My first stop was the famous red windmill of Moulin Rouge (after unknowingly wandered passed the red light district of Pigalle ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ”ž probably wonโ€™t shared pics here in case people needed parental guidance haha! ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ™ˆ)

Moulin Rouge

I was initially planning to visit Le Petit Canard nearby in the area for the famous duck ร  lโ€™orange, but unfortunately they were fully booked up (and also closed for the following day). ๐Ÿ˜” So, I took the metro line and headed back to one of my favourites from last time – Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie! The onion soup was one of the best I ever had! ๐Ÿ‘Œ

Classic French onion soup ๐Ÿง… ๐Ÿง€ ๐Ÿฅ–
A meaty Gourmand salad

And on my last day of my Paris stay (which coincided with Labour Day), I visited Marchรฉ Saint-Quentin and the Arc de Triomphe before taking Eurostar back to London. Somehow I gradually got a bit lost track of time and ended up being a bit of a mad dash home! (Typical! ๐Ÿ˜‚)

Marchรฉ Saint-Quentin
Wandered around for a long time deciding what to eat in the market ๐Ÿ˜‚ but went with this delicious Moroccan place in the end
How can you not try patisserie whilst in France?
Got the Fraisier and the passion fruit chocolate cake
Arc de Triomphe- Happy Labour Day!
Underneath Arc de Triomphe
A very quick sneaky visit to the president palace (hoping to meet Macron haha)- all the roads were blocked off with guards so thatโ€™s the best photo I could get ๐Ÿ˜…
Was running quite low on time and chowed down this duck ร  lโ€™orange in under 5 minutes and ran to Gard du Nord for my train back to London! ๐Ÿš„๐Ÿš„

First Landing in America! (Part 3) ๐ŸŒž๐ŸŒž

Morning, Austin! โ˜€๏ธ
Taterscape brunch in Arturoโ€™s Underground Cafรฉ – fried potatoes, eggs and avocado (for the third time this week!!)

My final post on my week-long trip to Austin as I count down my final few days in my first trip to America! Just like the rest of the week, the sun shined brightly across the river on Thursday with my first stop being the central library by the river. Not only is the library well facilitated, but it also has a rooftop garden overlooking the scenery nearby. And I managed to squeeze some work in there for an hour or so haha (as the reality of being back at work soon was starting to hit me)- such an amazing working environment! ๐Ÿ˜›

Inside Central Library
The rabbit and the Mad Hatter
Depiction of all the famous murals in Austin
View from the library rooftop

I then walked across the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge, enjoying every bit of the scenery nearby as I headed to my next place of interest, which is the the Picnic Food Truck Park in Barton Springs in the south of the city. โ˜€๏ธโ˜€๏ธ

Crossing the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge
The cutest bridge I have ever seen! ๐Ÿ˜
Look itโ€™s Pac-man!
The Picnic Food Truck Park in Barton Springs
A funky display of caravans next to the food truck park

I was dying for the toilet when I arrived at the food truck park but unluckily the toilet there was locked, so I decided to sneak to the bar/restaurant next door. Out of embarrassment (and I doubted they will lend me the toilet for free), I ordered a drink to sit in. I unwittingly ordered the cool-looking Earth Rita (not realising it was probably short for margarita, partly blaming the unclear menu who only said โ€œsecret ingredientsโ€โ€ฆ ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿน)and OMG that drink was so so strong (literally tasted like pure alcohol)! ๐Ÿ˜ต But I was adamant to finish it since I paid over $10โ€ฆ ๐Ÿ’ต Ended up stumbling my way back to the food trucks and hazily ordered a Louisiana fish and oyster platter that I can just about remember what it tasted like hahaโ€ฆ ๐Ÿฅด

This Earth Rita drink literally killed meโ€ฆ ๐Ÿฅด๐Ÿ˜ต
A Louisiana fried fish and oyster platter – can barely remembered how it tasted haha. I assume it was good cause I finished the whole plate! ๐Ÿ˜‚
Gelato truck
Lemon pie, coconut and hazelnut gelato (the latter saved for my friend)

In a bit of a drunken stumble, I headed back to the central library, meeting my friend there before we headed north to the Blanton Museum of Art together (and I managed not to have the gelato melted all the way haha!๐Ÿ˜€) And it was free entry on Thursday (with free lockers provided)! Here are some snapshots of the artworks inside. ๐Ÿ–ผ ๐ŸŽจ

The Blanton Museum of Art also has a special chapel-like exhibition piece (called โ€œAustinโ€) by Ellsworth Kelly.

โ€œAustinโ€
Beautiful! โค๏ธ๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’œ
Dinner was Tex-Mex grilled chicken with beans and rice. Tasted much better than it looks hehe!

After a brief rest in the evening, we then decided to make full advantage of Austinโ€™s busy night life and headed to clubbing in the downtown! ๐ŸŒƒ Havenโ€™t been out in ages, and it was definitely hot and sweaty on the dance floor there haha! (So unprepared for it! ๐Ÿ˜‚) But it surely was nice to feel like I am back in uni again! ๐Ÿ•บ๐Ÿ•บ

Clubbing at rainbow crosswalk ๐Ÿ•บ๐Ÿ•บ

Not being too hungover from the night before, we then headed to the Bullock Texas State History Museum the next day (with my history buff friend acted as the tour guide!) Truth be told I know very little about American history, let alone the history of Texas so it is nice to be able to get glimpses of their culture and all the stories behind its making.

Bullock Texas State History Museum
Inside the museum
The shipwreck remains of La Belle
The diary of the captain
Bison ๐Ÿฆฌ
The history of USA ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ
Movie time inside haha! ๐ŸŽฅ
Felt like I was in a western movie ๐Ÿค 
Moon landing! ๐ŸŒ•
๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿคฉ

We then continued our sightseeing tour, visiting the campus of St Edwardโ€™s University and Lake Austin.

Grabbed a fried chicken and burger whilst waiting for the bus ๐ŸšŒ๐Ÿฅค๐Ÿฅค
St Edwardโ€™s University
View of Austin from St Edwardโ€™s
Beautiful sunset ๐ŸŒ… at Lake Austin
Tea break at Mozartโ€™s Coffee Roasters by the lake

And on my penultimate night, after making a quick pass through Waterloo Park, I finally get to sample some Texan BBQ brisket. ๐Ÿ”ฅ I went to Stubbโ€™s which was very close to my hotel. It wasnโ€™t highly recommended by a lot of people I spoke to (Franklin which was quite well known was pretty much fully took up ๐Ÿ˜•). However, I actually did enjoy my brisket which was tender and also the sides of mac and cheese and collard greens. ๐Ÿ˜‹ (Though the cheese and jalapeรฑo sausage were slightly on the dry side for me).

Waterloo Park
Inside Stubbโ€™s
Finally a Texas BBQ! ๐Ÿ–

On the last day, before heading to the airport, my friend and I managed to squeeze in an All-you-can-eat meal in a Japanese restaurant near to him. The food was average but I thought $27.95 was quite reasonable for the quantities you get! ๐Ÿ˜™

All you can eat in 1 hour!

And finally after saying a proper farewell (also slightly ready) to my friend, it was also time to say bye bye to the city. ๐Ÿ˜ข Until the next time, Austin! I hope I can come back soon!

Bye bye Austin! ๐Ÿ‘‹

First Landing in America! (Part 2) ๐ŸŒƒ๐ŸŒƒ

Four days into Austin, and I still need to get over my jet lag problems! ๐Ÿฅฑ๐Ÿ˜ด Hence I started my morning with a very Tex-Mex brunch of tacos! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐ŸŒฎ๐ŸŒฎ (Weather was as glorious as ever! โ˜€๏ธโ˜€๏ธ Though I still canโ€™t get over the extra tax charges at the end of bills! ๐Ÿ’ต)

Spicy chicken taco and Mexican egg taco ๐Ÿ˜‹โ˜€๏ธ

After a filling breakfast, I then visited Harry Ransom Center within the UT campus to see the Julia Child exhibition inside (recommended by my friend living here). I started this blog back in 2019 after watching the movie โ€˜Julie & Juliaโ€™, so it did give me a sense of nostalgia and coming back full circle to see snapshots of her journey again. ๐Ÿ˜ (And also at last grabbed a copy of her famous cookbook for myself!)

Harry Ransom Center
Julia Child Exhibition including some original letters and photos that reminded me scenes from the movie
I do love a French onion soup! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿง…๐Ÿง…
There is also a exhibit of the Gutenberg Bible – one of the earliest bibles made using printing press
Have to be done! ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘Œ
A lunch break back in the Taiwanese eatery near the UT campus – ordered a lychee slushie and a satay beef lo mein

Following some more wanders around the city centre, I headed back to the hotel for a change of clothes before meeting up with my friend again to head to the upscale Japanese restaurant Uchiko. And what a feast that was! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ Some of our personal favourites were the soft shell crab makimono rolls (absolutely love their unusual use of apple in them! ๐ŸŽ), foie gras sushi, unagi sushi and the jasmine cream dessert.

Uchiko
Inside Uchiko
Beautiful lights on the ceiling
A complimentary yellowtail appetiser ๐Ÿ‘Œ
Sake toro (Scottish salmon belly) and Masu (Tasmanian ocean trout) sushi
Our favourite dish of the night- soft shell crab makimono with honeycrisp apple! ๐Ÿคค๐Ÿคค
Tiger Cry rolls with Wagyu beef, vegetables and rice paper
Hot rock Wagyu beef grill
Unagi (eel) sushi
Foie Gras sushi – my personal favourite! ๐Ÿ˜
Kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) tempura with a delicious shishito pepper aioli
An incredible dessert! ๐Ÿ˜ Jasmine cream with cilantro granita ๐Ÿ’š and pineapples ๐Ÿ

After having such a satisfying meal, it was even more of a treat to use the outdoor hot tub in my friendโ€™s apartment to round off a perfect night! ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ› ๐Ÿ‘Œ ๐Ÿ‘Œ

Crab crepe in a classically French brunch

After a good night of sleep, I woke up for a crepe brunch before visiting 99 Ranch Market, a Chinese supermarket in the northern area of Austin by Crestview Station. I thought it was a perfect day for some home cooking for a change after days of eating out! ๐Ÿ˜‰

The railway tracks
99 Ranch Market
Inside 99 Ranch
My favourite daikon! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘
Never seen white onions before!
Giving these Anaheim peppers a try!

I try to go a bit more budget as some of the items (particularly meat) are actually quite expensive, but they sold quite cheap seafood, hence I went with some peeled shrimps and squids (dissected and cleaned the squids all by myself – havenโ€™t done that in years since my last visit back to my home city of Hong Kong! ๐Ÿ˜‚) It was also quite challenging as my friend didnโ€™t have stoves installed in his kitchen (beside one self heating electric pot), so I kept things quite simple for the night.

Japanese fish cakes and daikon stew
Salted egg shrimps and squid stir fry with peppers and beans

Austin is a vibrant city with a busy night life, so after dinner, we both went for a walk along Congress Avenue Bridge and explored the beautiful Downtown Austin and its amazing skyline. ๐ŸŒƒ๐ŸŒ™๐Ÿ’ซ

๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚
Also grabbed a nice fro yo before heading back! ๐Ÿจ๐Ÿฅค

First Landing In America! (Part 1) โœˆ๏ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

For the first time in my 28 years, I have finally leapt across the pond of the Atlantic Ocean to visit our neighbouring country of the USA! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ This was a long trip coming but was delayed due to restrictions caused by the pandemic, and I used my half term break to grab this opportunity! ๐Ÿ˜‰

For my first ever trip into the State, I decided on Austin (since I have a friend there who can help me with the navigation if needed ๐Ÿงญ๐Ÿ˜!) Resting in the heart of Texas, Austin is a city with a very diverse culture and artistry. ๐ŸŒƒ A perfect place for someone like me!

Austin at night ๐ŸŒƒ
Downtown Austin
Capitol of Texas
UT Tower
Rainbow Cowboy ๐Ÿค ๐ŸŒˆ
Rainbow crosswalk ๐ŸŒˆ ๐ŸŒˆ
Frost Bank Tower from the distance
My friend calls it the โ€œchubbyโ€ pigeon ๐Ÿคญ
Beautiful pavement โค๏ธ๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’œ
Love these!
A beautiful building that turns out to be just a car park! ๐Ÿ˜‚
Love the look of this neighbourhood!
Quite empty traffic (surprisingly!) ๐Ÿš— ๐Ÿš™
More colours of Austin! ๐ŸŽจ ๐ŸŽจ
Vietnamese dinner at Pho Thaison on the first night (my friendโ€™s recommendation haha!) That lime soda was huge lol!!

Despite being firmly in winter, my first few days in Austin were blessed by glorious sunshine and heat! โ˜€๏ธโ˜€๏ธ After finishing the hotel breakfast, my friend (being a political student) took me to a political rally featuring the amazing AOC that was reported in local news.

Never ate hotelโ€™s breakfast on a sofa with paper plates before! ๐Ÿ˜‚ The sausage was dry but the patties arenโ€™t actually that bad (went back for seconds haha!)
AOC at the political rally
Lunch at Chili Parlour
Top: Queso (Mexican Cheese Dip) with Chips; Bottom: Pork Tamales and their signature chili

We then headed over to lunch at the Chili Parlour (cause I was dying to try some local Texan/American food! ๐Ÿ˜‚) Really enjoyed the homemade nachos chips which were nice for a change. The cheese dip and salsa were nice too but the heat was getting to me haha! ๐Ÿฅต Loved their chili especially the fact they are chucks of meat rather than mince which I was used to. ๐Ÿ˜‹ The tamales were slightly on the dry side, but I did enjoy the flavourful rice and beans they came with. Following this, we paid a visit to the Capitol of Texas and UT campus at the heart of the city.

Inside the Capitol of Texas
The incredible ceiling of the Capitol
The rotunda floor
Courtroom inside the Capitol
UT campus (blending in quite well with all the college students!)
UT Tower and the two โ€œballsโ€
UT Tower up close
The famous cat of the campus- Domino ๐Ÿˆโ€โฌ›
Eating zongzi again after so many years remind me of my late grandmother ๐Ÿ‘ต๐Ÿ˜ข (Also ended up missing pretty much the whole of Super Bowl during this haha!)

After a rather early night back in the hotel (fell asleep ๐Ÿ˜ด ๐Ÿ’ค with the Winter Olympics playing at the background ๐Ÿ“บ lol), I then visited the Austin city hall on the next day as well as the LBJ Library.

Austin City Hall
Inside the city hall
LBJ library
๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚
As a child, I loved Sesame Street! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ
LBJ
More inside the exhibition – love the old TV ads ๐Ÿ“บ
A replica of the White House
One of Ladybirdโ€™s dresses
Olmec Statue outside the library (reminded of something I saw in a childhood anime movie! ๐Ÿ˜‚)
So sunny in Austin today! โ˜€๏ธโ˜€๏ธ (Quite hot too ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ! Is it really February!?)
Brunch at a sidewalk ๐Ÿ‘ Really enjoyed this sandwich made with Jalapeรฑo & Cheese bread.

When the night falls again, I met up with my friend for a Italian dinner in Quattro Gatti Ristorante e Pizzeria! ๐Ÿคค๐Ÿคค (Also Happy Valentineโ€™s Day, everyone lol! โค๏ธ) FYI everything tasted amazing! ๐Ÿ˜‚

What a treat! ๐Ÿ‹๐Ÿ‹
A classic Italian dinner: Meatballs and rosemary focaccia; lobster ravioli with vodka sauce; truffle sausage rigatoni; and finally chocolate and Strawberry with a cookie that tasted the cannoli shells! Yum! ๐Ÿคค๐Ÿคค

Happy New Year from Edinburgh! ๐Ÿฅณ๐Ÿฅณ๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰

Happy New Year, everyone! May 2022 be your best year yet! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ Hope you had also enjoyed your holiday – my new yearโ€™s resolution definitely needs to be to work off all the food I have eaten over the past weeks! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Edinburgh at night ๐ŸŒ™ (not reallyโ€ฆ this was before 5 in the afternoon ๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜…)
The Balmoral Hotel
St Jamesโ€™ Shopping Centre ๐Ÿ’ซ
Christmas tree in St Andrew Square ๐ŸŽ„
The Dome
Beautiful lights! โ›„๏ธโ›„๏ธ
The winter season in full swing! โ„๏ธ
Delicious seafood lunch in Mussels Inn (one of my favourite seafood spots here! ๐Ÿ˜‹)
A pot of mussels to ourselves! โค๏ธโค๏ธ
The Pakora Bar – popped in for a quick snack!
Got to love a bit of Wahaca! ๐Ÿ‘Œ
A nice, warm bowl of ramen is perfect in this chilly weather ๐Ÿฅถ
And got treated to a nice dinner in the hotel my mum works at! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘

Half Term Getaway to Spain: Part 2

Beautiful view of Valencia from the top of Torres de Serranos

Valencia really was a beautiful city with a very interesting mix of cultures, history as well as modernness to it – evident from the buildings across the city.

Plaza de Toros de Valencia (bullring)
Valencia Nord Train Station
Valencia Central Market

Being a my usual foodie self, my first stop on my last day in Valencia was the impressive centre market. It features a wide range of food ranging from the famous Spanish Jamรณn, fresh meats, fruits and sweets as well as different kinds of preserves. It certainly took a long time to go around the entire place! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Of course it wonโ€™t be Spain without Jamรณn! ๐Ÿท
Love all these exotic fruits! Shame I canโ€™t buy them all home!
โ€œSnackingโ€ in the food market (from top left going along the row): spinach empanada, pepito carne (fried stuffed sandwich), mandarin juice, Jamรณn and an apple semifreddo dessert ๐Ÿคค (thought it was a cake but it turned out to be ice cream!)
And a surprise buy! ๐Ÿ˜‚

I then headed the city centre of Valencia, visiting the grande and historical town hall as well as the central post office.

Correos (Central Post office)
Grande ceiling in the post office
Valencia Town Hall
Beautiful chandeliers!
The Laws of Valencia standing at the centre of the room!
Exquisite ceiling
The Valencian Flag
The old parliament

After a long walk in the heart of Valencia, I then headed back to the direction of Plaza de la Virgen where I was last night to visit the Valencia Cathedral. But before that, I stopped for a little tea break sampling a local drink called Horchata, which is a milk made from tiger nuts, typically accompanied with a sweet pastry called Farton. ๐Ÿ‘Œ

Horchata with Farton
Valencia Cathedral (entry for 8 Euros – though I got away with a student discount again! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ‘Œ)
Main altar of the cathedral
Beautiful chapel ๐Ÿฅฐ๐Ÿฅฐ
Love stained glass whenever I visit a cathedral!
Amazing!
Underground of the cathedral
Eek ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ’€๐Ÿฆด๐Ÿฆด

After wondering through the town some more, I then rode the bus to the more desolated Pinedo beach which sat on the outskirts of Valencia, enjoying the breezes from the sea before riding back to the city again. ๐ŸŒŠ ๐ŸŒŠ

Pinedo beach

And after a few drinks at some bars and places across town (getting a little light headed lol), I settled for a final light dinner at a couscous bar near to my hotel in the Russafa area. The waitress was so lovely and welcoming, and we had such a nice chat about the city and travelling (turned out she is from Miami, so we got chatting about America which I longed to visit!) ๐Ÿฅฐ๐Ÿฅฐ

Couscous buffet bar for a light and healthy dinner! ๐Ÿ˜‹

And donโ€™t forget itโ€™s Halloween this Sunday! ๐ŸŽƒ๐Ÿ‘ป Stay safe and enjoy the festival! ๐Ÿ˜‰