Puff Balls

Beta 5. Need I say more?

You know exactly what I mean if you have been here before. And if you haven’t, get going. Like now!

A few years ago one of my coworkers would bring these amazing puffs of delight into our office cuz his sister used to work there. I was obsessed with them. But every time I asked about them I could figure out where they were or remember the random off name. Earlier this year, I was determined to find them. I work a few weekends throughout the year, and one of my weekend partners loves good food just as much as me. So we usually have a culinary experience for our lunch breaks (if time allows). A few months ago I was telling her of these amazing balls of delight and she was all in and we started to google. Well to our surprise, they are in the next neighbourhood over from our work place. A quick drive and boom, we were filling a box (each). I think my first go around I bought 6 puffs. And I think I ate 4 of them to myself.

So here’s the thing, if you like 1. Amazing flavors, 2. Sweetness, 3. Richness, you will love the Beta 5 balls.  And I mean LOVE them. I find it extremely hard to just buy one or 2. Every time I go there I want to try all the flavors. I just googled them to see what they have right now, which will be different when you search them….but right now they have a couple of my faves. Like the Raspberry Earl Grey, Salted Caramel, Vietnamese Coffee and Variations of Chocolate Cream. But if you ever see the Lime one, it’s also a must.

You must be wondering, how big are these puffs, since they are charging $5 a puff. Well they are about the size of your fist (or a small fist, if you have big hands then, no, small hand fist). And trust me, they are worth the 5 bucks. They will change your life. Make grey skies turn blue. Turn a frown upside down. It’s worth it.

Now that I have been saying all these amazing things, you will find it surprising that I will manage to bring them home and cut them in half and share them with my hubs. He doesn’t realize however, I have probably already ate 3 of them at work all to myself. But I still do bring some home to share. That’s gotta mean something, right?

Oh I should mention, Beta 5 also sells other things, like ice cream sandwiches, also very good. And chocolate. If you know me well, you will be very very very surprised that I haven’t tried their chocolate yet. I always look at the bars, and I really do want to try them…I just realized when I’m there that I have already spent a lot of money on cream puffs so I should probably limit myself. Their bars start at $9. Which to be honest, I find a bit pricey for something I don’t know I will love. I only imagine they are that amazing since their puff balls are.

Do I suggest you go to Beta 5? I don’t think I need to answer this. OF COURSE I DO!!! THEY ARE AMAZING!!!

So get going…go on…shoo!

N&K $50 Bruncheria Cafe Meal Contest Rules

Click here to read N&K’s review of Bruncheria.

Contest opens May 4, 2019 and closes on May 17, 2019.

  1. Follow Bruncheria Cafe on Instagram*.
  2. Follow Nals and Kells on Instagram*.
  3. Like the post**.
  4. Tag a brunch Friend**.
  5. Each tagged Friend is one entry. Tag as many friends as you’d like**.
  6. N&K will randomly select one lucky Winner and notify the Winner via Instagram message by May 20, 2019. The Winner will get one complimentary meal at Bruncheria Cafe, up to a $50 value***.

A big THANK YOU to Bruncheria Cafe for providing N&Kers with the Giveaway opportunity and the gorgeous photos.

The fine print:

*Though conducted through Instagram platform, this contest is not affiliated with Instagram. **All Tags and Likes must be indicated the original contest post on N&K from May 4, 2019. ***No substitutions or transfers, must be used in the time frame specified by Bruncheria.

Review of Bruncheria Cafe (New Westminster)

Nals and the Mr felt like a spot of brunch one weekend. And, we happened upon Bruncheria Cafe … so in we went. And we were not disappointed.

Hey guess what?! N&K has a new contest starting later today. For more details on the “Win a $50 Bruncheria Cafe Meal” Contest Rules, just click here.

Atmosphere

Casual seating, some areas have wooden benches with comfy cushions. It’s a large airy warmly lit space. Kitchen area is blocked off by a waist-high counter but you can watch the cooks prepare your meal. The service is easy going and friendly. Their inspiration is to have a family-style brunch atmosphere with a European twist.

Menu

The menu has changed since we were last there. Besides the usual delicious fare like Bacon & Eggs and Berry Cream Pancakes, they offer a Yo-conut Yogurt Fruit parfait, Sweet Toast Trio and Pulled Pork Pancakes. The Sweet and Spicy sounds fascinating.

Bruncheria Menu has delightfully unusual items and combinations. And the menu itself is laid out well: pictures with clear descriptions

They have a bevy of beverages: made-to-order espresso drinks, teas and cold drinks.

Our Food

We both ordered Bacon & Sausage Omelette with a side Greek Salad.

Food was delicious. Plates were well seasoned with fresh ingredients. They were simple but complimentary flavours. I loved their Chimichurri Toast – mmm garlic green goodness on crispy toast!

On our next visit, I’ll order one of the following: Probably The Best Brunch Sandwich Ever, Brunch Bowl with Hollandaise and the Build Your Own Brunch.

Best brunch sandwich ever – photo credit: Bruncheria Cafe

Location & Parking

Located on Columbia with paid street parking and easy access to transit.

Online ordering

They offer online ordering and even have their own Bruncheria app. 20% off for pick up orders.

Recommendation

Yassss you should eat here!

Contacts

Click for their: website, online ordering and Instagram.

Happy 1 Year Anniversary!

Bruncheria Cafe just finished their first year in business. To celebrate, they’ll be posting an IG contest, with a delicious prize.

N&K Tip

After brunch, go window shopping along Columbia, explore the Quay then take a stroll along the water. Or, just head down to the casino for a bit of blackjack.

A very special thank you to Dan and his team at Bruncheria for collaborating with us! He provided us with these beautiful pictures, and the Giveaway opportunity. Click here for entry details later today.

It’s all about the pits

Small world! Miss Kells & Miss Balm work out at the same gym. One day, they got to talking. And, one thing led to another. So here we are: seeing if Pure Pit Balm’s assertion that “it’s da bomb”, is fo realz.

Pure Pit Balm is a natural deodorant for underarms.

What is a natural deodorant?

“Natural” deodorants can be made at home. They are typically a mixture of emollients & baking soda… plus maybe some essential oil for scent. The general idea is that they’re made from ingredients you have in your pantry.

Why mess with a good thing?

I’ve got an antiperspirant that works. So why change?

  1. There are notions that antiperspirants can contribute to the development of brain diseases in older age☆. Apparently this has not been replicated in recent studies. But it got me to thinking about slapping random things on to my skin.
  2. I work at a scent-sensitive location. And of course Mr. Nals (the ginger) is scent-sensitive°. So this made me think of crap that we randomly inhale – chemicals galore in perfume, lotions, cleaners, soaps, fresheners.
  3. Antiperspirants make my pits ashy gray. When I’ve tried to go without, my pits clear up*. This is just for esthetics but I’m not a big fan.

Do you know that skin is the largest organ?

Why not just quit using it?

I ‘ v e t r i e d ! But it gets real stanky at certain times. So, I’ve purchased commercially-made “natural” deodorants, crystals, rubbing alcohol, witch hazel and plain coconut oil. These irritated or cut the skin, dried it out, required frequent reapplication, stained my clothes and were ineffective.

So getting back to the belle of the ball…

Pure Pit Balm is made with shea butter, coconut oil, non-aluminum baking soda +/- essential oil for scent. Kells is allergic to shea butter and couldn’t participate in the review.

My concerns were that I’ve used natural deodorants before, with minimal positive effect. But Miss Pure Pit Balm perservered and supplied 2 complimentary jars – Sensitive (unscented, less potent) and Lavendar (more potent).

My experience

I first tried Sensitive. Application: After showering, I applied a pea-sized amount to each dry pit. I let my body heat melt and absorb the product. Then I got dressed. Effects: It actually worked great! There was no irritation and no stink! Now remember: it’s not an antiperspirant. So I still got swamp pits. (Translation: more laundry for me.) That was ok because it meant I wasn’t putting crap on my skin. And, my skin looks vibrant, healthy with no bloody ingrowns!

I’ve used it daily for >1 month. At the end of the day, or after exertion, I occasionally smelled an earthy alkaline odour. I think this was the result of an intense love affair betwixt my sweat and baking soda. So if I felt like I was getting sweaty, I’d wipe & air dem pits out. This seemed to mitigate the odour.

In conclusion

The product comes in a little glass jar (2.5 ounces, 74mL). With typical use, it should last 3 months. You can choose scents: Grapefruit, Lemongrass, Lavender or unscented Sensitive. Sensitive contains less baking soda so it was easier to smother on than Lavendar. Oh but la Lavendar smelled divine. As it was full-strength, my sensitive skin was physically irritated because I rubbed it in too much. This irritation was only intermittent, mild & always went away after a minute. Miss Pure Pit Balm suggested I stick with Sensitive, and to not use after hair removal.^

There’s an informational brochure, details on jar labels and a fabulous website.

Recommendation

Nals would recommend Pure Pit Balm. In the very least, you should try it out just to give your pits a break from excess chemicals. Plus, you’d be supporting a small local (Canadian) business!

Facebook

Instagram

Buy on Etsy

Yes! Pure Pit Balm is sure da bomb.

Footnotes
☆refer to this article.
°Both my mum & I loved scented lotions and potions. We bought vats of it, and madly rolled around in them like pups in a dead skunk carcass. So when I met Mr. Nals & he told me perfumes bother him, I was upset. And when we moved in together, I had to give my carefully curated scents to my mom. Oh Van Cleef & Arpels First, how I still long for you & TommyGirl.
*Ashy gray pits are mainly an issue for people of colour.
^(If you’ve paid attention to labels or estheticians before, you know that you actually shouldn’t even gym or sweat or swim within 24 hours of waxing. Let alone, adding deodorant.)

Review of Uli’s Restaurant (White Rock)

Uli’s is a delightful restaurant on waterfront in White Rock.

Nals & Missy R went there for brunch in early February for our 16th Friend-a-versary Celebration. As it was wintertime, it was cool. But that usually-shy sun was shining brightly. And I could easily see where the pier was nipped off in the storm a few weeks prior.

We were the first or second customers so it was wonderfully quiet. Restaurant was filled with wooden tables & chairs, minimalist beachy feel. This went well with the laid back feel of Marine Drive & Pier. Our server was lovely – helpful, attentive but not intrusive.

Our order

We had Baked Brie (carmelized garlic, blueberries and homemade crostini) to start. Missy R had the Schnitzel (Vienna style with rock salt & lemon). I had the Cuban Croquette Eggs Benedict (with fabulous bursts of pepper jelly).

And drum roll…

All dishes tasted delicious. Coffee was tasty strong. Missy R had the perfect Bloody Caesar, extra spicy.

However

The dishes could’ve been warmer, especially Brie. Apparently, TripAdvisor (TA) diners have observed this before. TAers also observed that portions were small. We both have healthy appetites and we thought they were a good size. But we also had drinks and Brie.

We love scratch kitchens!

Other considerations

Parking can be a bit of a pain so take time or carpool. And also take time to stroll along the waterfront. Enjoy the view, salt air, maybe get an ice cream or window shop. And remember: do not get close to or feed the wildlife. Watching Marine Life: safely. What could happen if you: don’t.

Do N&K recommend Uli’s?

Missy R has been here before & enjoyed it. And, yes we both would recommend this place.

Be mine: hot choco

So here in the great YVR a few hot spots got together for the Hot Chocolate Festival.We think end of Jan and into Feb is a great time to warm us up.
Today marks the final day of the Hot Chocolate Festival (boo). But we did get out there and try a few (even though our intentions were to try as many as we could).
We loved some and didn’t love others.
We have a tie for our favourite! They were both so different but both so good. So in first and 1st place is a) the Vegan hot chocolate from Cadeaux Bakery and b) the Bees knees squeeze from Chez Christophe
Let’s talk about a) first. We both love some coconut so to have that hint of coconut with the rich chocolate was a win in our books. Then b) this was delightful sweet treat with honey and lemon notes.
Second place has to go to strawberry fields forever, a dark chocolate and strawberry delight also from Chez Christophe.
Third place is the hot chocolate in a cone from Mink. The cone was a yummy addition. Just wish the drink was warmer (however we get having a super hot drink in a cone doesn’t bode well).
The middle 2 are from Baggio. They weren’t cheap and was underwhelming. They were barely warm and did not have much flavour despite the amazing descriptions. We tried the Almond Joy and Tiramisu for 2.
And sorry to sayEast Van Roasters, you make a mean salted cookie, but your fragrant hot chocolate was just not our thing. We are sure others loved it. But we didn’t get the flavour fusion of the Umami Experience.
We have to say, the Hot Chocolate fest was a great way to get us out and about. And we love that they support women and children. Yummy in a cup plus a good cause. Now that we can get behind!

Restaurant Review: Cold Havana Nights

Both Kells & I have been to Havana (Cuban Restaurant on Commercial Drive) several times. And, since we were having out-of-towners join us, we wanted to take them somewheres new!

No Reservations

Because we were going to a show, we were hoping to make reservations. I checked online 2 weeks before. Son of a buggerball: no reservations during peak times, such as Friday & Saturday after 6 pm. Open Table was right on their site so I tried to book anyways. It wouldn’t allow me to book after 4:45 pm. Our show was at 9 pm so 4:45 would be way too early. I also went to the Open Table app, thinking it might be different. And, nope. Grrr.

The Waiting Game

Half of our party got there before 6 & told that it would be an hour wait to sit inside. So they were seated outside, waiting for us. K&I joined and the 4 of us planned our drink orders (mojitos, V&T, margarita). Things were going ok.

As per the timeline above, we had 20 minutes left to wait for a table inside… but were told by staff that it’d actually be another 40. And apparently, once we ordered patio-side, we’d have to stay put.

The patio seating was assembled-to-order and so it wasn’t 100% comfortable. 2 of us felt that we were in the walkway. But our waiter assured us that we weren’t. And the heaters were keeping us warm. And we were hungry pups. So we figured we’d stay.

However, after another few minutes, our bottoms got cold. Our Gentleman Out-of-Towner got up to speak with the inside folks. He asked for our table listing back. We were told it’d be 1.5 hours. So he reminded them that we were already on the list, just a few minutes prior. Then they said 40 minutes.

When our waiter returned, we again inquired. She checked and told us 1.5 hour wait, even though at this point we were there over an hour. She said once we had ordered the food, inside folks assumed we’d just stay outside and took us off the list… and plus the restaurant had full reservations. Hmmm…

Eat Drink Man Woman

Drink and food service was slow. We ordered appies and said we would all share. Kells hates cilantro, so the waiter made suggestions. I ordered poblano & corn dip. K ordered the avocado tostones. And, the tostones came with cilantro. The waiter apologized and sent it back. Our out-of-towners got mussels, which were fab.

Our Gentleman Out-of-Towner ordered a 3rd beef taco, which never came. Me n Lady Out-of-Towner ordered the flat iron steaks, which were salty but good. The side was a fantastic cauliflower number. K ordered the prawn tacos, which were good with tasty sides.

Mains came 10 mins after appies – which was poor timing. Seemed like we waiting forever for our drinks… then our appies… then it all came spilling out on small table. (For comparison: There were other folks on the patio as well, and they received their food & drinks in a timely manner. One of the tables had 7 or 8 people.)

Would we recommend this restaurant?

K&I have been here before and it was an enjoyable experience. My last time was years ago, just before the fire. Kells’s last time was more recent: after the renos and change in ownership. So, this experience was different and not 100% positive.

But if you’ve never tried Cubano food, definitely go – especially for brunch. And if it’s peak dinner time, we would recommend making an early reservation. That way you’ll get a seat inside, and hopefully your food in a timely manner. If 4:45 is too early for dinner, go anyways. Then take an after-dinner stroll through The Drive, and get yourself a delicious Italian espresso or gelato… or do some window shopping and people-watching.

Gabs and Grub at Glowbal Restaurant 

I was invited to a work dinner last month. When the organizer mentioned it was at Glowbal, I was sure I misheard. Never heard of Glowbal. Was it a dinner at Global TV studios? Or…?
Apparently, Glowbal has won some awards and is ‘fusion cuisine’ that is ‘stripped down to North American’ roots. It is in downtown Vancouver’s Telus Garden building. Parking is on the street or in a lot. Or, take transit.
Menu is available right at the door … which is convenient if you’re waiting in line. They have a couple of specials – lunch, cocktails hours, wine dinners.


So, we were herded off to a cosy private room upstairs. Menu was closed but it was a 3 course affair.

For starters: We could choose the Mushroom Truffle Cream soup or Caesar salad. We all ordered salad. This was crispy, bacon-y, dressed in the garlic creamery and topped with delightful curls of parm. I love a good Caesar salad. However, I find that most restaurants drench gorgeous green romaine hearts in some awful glue-like dressing. And I end up forking off the dressing to try to eat the now-wilted romaine.
Second course: I chose the Wild BC Salmon. Most others chose the short ribs. Portions were huge and hot. Seasoning was spot-on.
Third course was a deconstructed berry cheesecake. This was the bit of sweet to end the night. Each table also had assorted macaroons and other too-sweet crunchies. A thin slice of dark chocolate cake and an espresso would’ve ended the meal perfectly.
After we ordered, wait staff brought out the surprise appies – skewers of protein like satay chicken, grilled shrimp, etc. Defo delicious but also a bit odd to eat without side plates.


Wait staff were whisper quiet and quickly filled our wines and waters without asking. Their area to move around was a little cramped with 3 round tables, with half the room carved out for the slides and presenter. It was Christmas party time so whenever the doors were kept open, we could hear the din outside. I’m not sure what they could have done about the noise besides keeping the doors closed. (But during service, this is not possible.)
Ok… but what about the rest of the restaurant? Hardwood floors, vaulted ceilings, muted lighting, dark wood walls made for an intimate feel, without the cramped space. There are various dining areas: outside, lounge, bar side, mezzanine and private rooms.

Kells has been here before and enjoyed it. Like me, she also thinks this is reminiscent of Purple Café. Our review is here.
Recommendation: if you like traipsing into downtown Vancouver, eating in a busy trendy North American restaurant, then Glowbal should be on your list.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

So finding good fried chicken in the Pacific Northwest is like trying to find fresh seafood in the desert. Its hard to find. I’m still searching for an amazing chicken and waffles in Vancouver.

But there’s this local joint in the heart of gastown that’s pumping out some amazing fried chicken and other great bbq’d meats.
I highly recommend peck in pah for their chicken fried sandwich. And if you are anything like me, I order it sans cilantro.

To me, this has got to be one of the best fried sandwiches I have ever tried. So much yum. And really its so simple. But the fact that their chicken is juicy and fried makes it a win.
Fried chicken not your jam? Well don’t cha worry your lil self about that. There’s much more in this tiny joint. I strongly recommend the fried pickles. Again, they are the best I’ve had.

Don’t want fried. No prob. Try their mac and cheese. The portion is huge. But if you are bold enough and enjoy meat I would suggest adding the pulled pork to the mac and cheese. Its amazing.
Peck in pah also gives each table a few of their house made sauces. Honestly, I havent tried them yet. Not that I don’t think they will be good. But I just haven’t felt my meal needs the extra sauce.
I also like the location and great big windows on this restaurant. Grabbing a window seat isn’t hard since the whole place is windows over looking the brick streets of Gastown.

Oh! I almost forgot. The beers! They have a good beer selection of local beers. Unfortunately I’ve mainly been here for lunch. So I haven’t had the opportunity to drink my way through their beer menu. But I’ve noticed it and plan to try more of it when I can.
Have you been here yet? Or know of the best chicken and waffles in town? Please send us an email or leave a comment below.

Wake Up Before You Go Go

October is Women’s Health month here on N&K. Today, nals will be discussing self esteem.

When I was heavier, I felt bombarded with images of thin, smooth-skinned, tall ladies as ‘beautiful’. If it was North American media, then tanned vixens. And if Bollywood media, then fair-skinned maidens. No one looked like me: pear-shaped, bespectacled, with frizzy unkempt waves & darker skinned… unless it was an actor who played an evil Bollywood mom. Or, was the star of a self-named comedy show (see posts on Tips 1-4, 5-8, 9-10). And I wasn’t any of those adjectives either!

And these thin women were portrayed as The Ultimate Show Ponies, dripping with confidence, promise, fulfilling lifestyles, happiness and sex appeal. Today, I say “Bravo!” to advertising and entertainment sectors for the deep ingrainment. They worked hard to get that image across.  At the time, it didn’t occur to me that I didn’t know anyone else that looked like that, either. Move over Manson² and Heaven’s Gate, Media is the Ultimate brainwasher.

Keep in mind, my teen years were spent poring over glossy magazines with shiny images, talking on the phone with friends, and watching TV. We didn’t have internet or cell phones. My escape was TV and staying up late reading books¹. So growing up with rigid ideas of what the perfect 2-D body looks like makes a regular 3-D girl feel less-than.

In all honesty I thought once I lost weight³, I would be happier. Things would magically fall into place. Of course this is real-life, not a fairy tale.

Happiness is something you attain. It is not bestowed upon you.

 

 

I had to really think about what would make me happy. I love reading, photography, the theatre

and writing. I love all kinds of dance. I am happy when beautiful things surround me: people, clothes, art, wine, food. And I am happy after I have challenged myself.

I try to do things to push my personal boundaries like co-writing this blog. (Yes, I love writing but it’s not easy to put yourself out there.) I’ve taken loads of pictures, in public. Then put up these up for you all to see.

 

 

And last week, I started a burlesque class with Kells. Yes, burlesque. I love how bawdy, welcoming, tongue-in-cheek, flirty, raucous it is. And we had no idea about its fabulously clandestine history

This is an intro class, with a lovely range of ladies across sizes, ages, shapes and abilities. About one third took the class to push themselves, have fun and become more comfortable in their own skin.  Some of the same reasons as N&K!

I would say I’m a happier person, having pushed personal boundaries and embracing all aspects of myself. Am I positive and happy 100% of the time? Of course not. Real life has ups and downs. But if you want to lead a more fulfilling lifestyle…
you gotta wake the F up. Self-evaluate and make a plan of change.
Don’t just chug along with life. Grab it by the horns and point it in the right direction!

Footnotes
1 Thanks Judy Blume, Stephen King, Danielle Steele, Isaac Asimov for keeping me up too late
2 Charles, not Marilyn
3 According to a female family member, all I needed to do in my teen years, was lose weight, get rid of unsightly zits and get toss the glasses. (She was unsure of this last thing, as presumably, there were attractive librarians with glasses.) This aunt was a solid support to me. She never lied. But, she encouraged my strengths and didn’t let me forget them. And I adored her. (She was the next best thing to sliced bread!) So when she gave me this unsolicited bit of advice, which came out of the blue, I was heartbroken.