So it’s my birthday, and given that I’ve set up this blog in term of the things I want to accomplish before I turn 30, my birthday seems like a good time to check in and see where I’m at. I already know that I won’t complete all the things on my list. And that’s OK! There are so many unexpected things that I never contemplated back when I created this, and that I am so grateful and happy I was able to experience.
(Recent trip to Angkor Wat in Cambodia)
Like getting married to my life partner with the presence and company of our closest friends and family in France! Or traveling to South America (Chile, Argentina and Brazil) because my sister’s company was selected as part of an Apple-endorsed government program. Or landing my dream job doing what I love – creating meaningful connections for people and continuously learning about innovative technologies – in one of the world’s top universities.
(Hang-gliding in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
I’m a fan of goal-setting and I’m a believer in re-adjusting your priorities. So what do I know I won’t accomplish? Well owning a home in Vancouver is going to be pretty hard! And summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in the next 12 months isn’t going to happen either! But I’ll keep prepared for both things by continuing to do what I can to save money (see: life and meal hacks) and working out so that I can be physically fit enough to hike at high altitudes in say, 2016
(Hiking in France with the view of the Mont Blanc)
For my birthday this year, I wanted to combine my love of hiking and gourmet fare. Actually, hiking for me usually involves edible rewards at the top anyways. The plan was to hike the mountains of BC and have a picnic at the beautiful Lake Garibaldi, surrounded by glaciers and a stunning alpine lake. Dinner reservations were then made for my favourite restaurant in Vancouver, 10 years strong: Chambar. A delightful and exotic fusion of North African and European cuisine.
Thomas Haas – Provisions for a hike
The day started off by visiting Thomas Haas in North Vancouver and picking up a mozzarella and avocado sandwich along with the very famous and delicious – double-baked-almond-croissant. I WILL get to a post on the best croissant in Vancouver (following a very extensive, month-long experiment of finding the best almond-croissant in France, I was well-prepared and well-qualified for this endeavor 😉
After that, we drove along the scenic and aptly named Sea to Sky highway.
A sign marking the entrance to Garibaldi is indicated shortly after driving through the town of Squamish.
It was a misty day and Eric and I were a bit worried about rain..and bears, but we saw a pretty packed parking lot and knew there would be enough hikers around. As for the rain, well, there were a lot of trees for cover!
Lake Garibaldi Hike
The hike itself is not difficult, but it is time-consuming. The elevation is only slightly more than the Grouse Grind, but you don’t have the crazy vertical gain! There are, however, a lot of switch-backs in the beginning! The changing scenery helps the time go by and once you’re 1/3 away from the lake, you get some breath-taking cliff views!
The water that day was so vivid and vibrant – it actually reminded me of Listerine haha!
After a good 2+ hours of hiking with no breaks, we came to the lake! We were shrouded in fog, but it didn’t matter. The accomplishment from trekking up felt awesome!
We made our away along the narrow part of the lake and looking back, caught glimpses of the vibrant green hues.
Once we set up camp, the fog started to slowly burn off!
So much beauty!!
We enjoyed our picnic of deli meats, cheese and tomatoes (I hear tomatoes on a hike are very European; here I am fully embracing my French side!).
Just as we were finishing lunch, a large groups of Australians showed up and spent some time deciding whether they should jump into the lake – naked. It was about time we left anyways at that point and once we headed off, we heard a LOT of shrieking!
It was a great hike down. I was wondering where the wonderful almond aroma was that was wafting along our trail was originating from, when it hit me – maybe I was smelling the croissant all along?
Anyways, we had a beautiful drive home and were ready for a quick rest before dinner.
Dinner at Chambar
A Belgian restaurant where three-star-Michelin-trained chef Nico Schuermans is winning rave reviews.
Hands-down this is my favourite restaurant in the city! It was one of the first “nice” restaurants I went to as a teenager and I remember how tender the lamb was after being cooked in the Morrocan-style tajine. And how plump and juicy the mussels were in their tangy broth. Since then, I’ve suggested to work that we host our Christmas dinner there (which we did!) and also invited many out-of-town guests, with very discerning palettes, to join us. There has never been any disappointment! It was only a couple of birthdays ago that Eric took myself and my best friends to dinner there.
They are famous for their selection of Belgian beers and always have fantastic rotating desserts including several versions of the “Nico” dessert.
This was tlso a special occasion because they had recently renovated!
Chambar had a sister restaurant next door, Café Medina, which for years, only was open for brunch but had equally impressive and stand-out dishes. This past Summer, Café Medina re-opened as a stand-alone restaurant down the street.
Anyways, Jen and Jayson would be joining us to experience the new expanded space and try out my favourite restaurant for their first time.
I was happy to see that my old favourites were still there. Along with some interesting, new dishes!
The new space is easily 2-3 times the size of the old restaurant, and still has a fun ambience and cool, new patio.
Citadelle gin, Amontillado sherry & Campari. Shaken with pressed lemon & rosewater. Paired with honey spiced nuts
Canard aux épices
Cardamom & star anise rubbed duck breast, goat cheese spring roll, Belgian endive, radicchio, hazelnuts, cumberland sauce, cherries.
Mussels, tomato coconut cream, smoked chili, lime, cilantro
Tajine d’aziz a l’agneau
Braised lamb shank, honey, figs, cinnamon & cilantro, Cous cous & roasted eggplant
Pain perdu, pumpkin cream, spiced ice cream
I still think that this is one of the best deals in Vancouver – delicious and creative dishes for very fair prices.
It’s been a great birthday and fantastic year!! Looking forward to what the next year will bring. Thinking I’ll keep this blog going to see what other challenges I’ll face and other goals I can accomplish in the year I turn 30 as well