Monday, February 23, 2015

Moodstruck 3D Mascara by Younique

weak in the knees
:Pricey at $35:

3D mascara is all the rage. This post is pretty simple because you can see for yourself. No retouched photos, no filters, no Photoshop magic...just my eyes and my camera. Ready? Here we go.

Here are my bare naked lashes:

These are my lashes with one coat of my go-to Benefit:

And finally, my lashes with Younique:

Wow right? Yup.
Note the marketplace is not yet saturated so you really have two bonafide choices: CherryBlooms or Younique. Here are the only three things you really need to know:

1. Cherry Blooms is $75 but you can buy it at stores across the city. Younique is $35 but you have to buy it through another person. Trust me, that's easy - if it hasn't blown up in your circle of chicks, it's about to.

2. Both work (full disclosure, a friend has Cherry Blooms and swears by it; I have not tried it) but both require practice to finesse.

3. Both have extreme staying power and are resistant to smudging (a bit of mild flaking but nothing a final swipe doesn't fix) but at the end of the night they wash away easily - a breeze unlike lacquered or tube mascara. 

Reviewing the above, I would say a smart woman would go with Younique. I would say I'm a smart woman. Here's what you work with:

I don't like the packaging but I like what's inside too much to really care.
The results are clear. I love it, so much so let's look at it again:

Dramatic. Makes you feel weak...can hardly speak? Lose all control and something takes over me? There's nothing like finding a really really awesome beauty buy.

Younique is so effective I don’t really need more. Meaning, I'm so happy with it I'm not even curious about Cherry Blooms. If we put price aside, I got Younique because it was the first one I learned about. If the situation were reversed, I would have bought Cherry but given the cost - I probably would have went on to try Younique and been sold.

Two products, two very different price points. Did you see what Younique did? Scroll up for a reminder and then ask yourself, do you really need more? I don't.

I don't sell hard - but really - you need to buy this. Think I'm alone? Watch here (my favourite review because she's clearly enthusiastically enthusiastic), here and here.

Love it.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Vancouver: Catch 122

i've been brunching

RESTO open 9 am to 1030 pm 
@122 W Hastings Street Google maps

Must eats:

Braised short ribs eggs bendict
So I had a wonderful V-day brunch date with Totoro and I knew it was going to be good because our catch ups are always non-stop laughter and giggles. I suggested Catch 122 after the sister recommended it. She said I would love it. I don't say it often, but the sister was right.

I got there at about 11:30 and a small crowd had gathered outside. I went in and put my name down. The lovely woman who greeted me estimated about a 40 minute wait. Totoro and I took that time to check out some of the nearby shops and start our catch up - a little bit about work, a little bit about boys and a lot about how awesome we are. Smirk.

Sorry the photos don't do the food justice. But even these poor quality shots will urge you to visit Catch 122 for brunch. It was as good as the anticipation leading up to it -- the reviews I read a month ago were great, the word of mouth advice I got over the past few weeks were positive, and then the moment I arrived there was a line.

Totoro and I were seated around the time they said a table would open up. I'll say service dwindled during our visit, but it was fine otherwise so nothing to get fussed about. The unexpected treat that accompanied our drinks was a nice surprise:

Delicious banana bread.
And for those that know me, I am an expert on banana bread.
All of Catch 122's brunch items are $12. There are also sandwiches, salads and add-ons. But I bleed brunch so I went for the most brunch-esque dish: a benny and it was yummy. So delicious I would say it was one of my favourite bennys. Rich and tender short rib meat sandwiched by a perfectly poached egg and english muffin. And the hollandaise sauce was nicely balanced. The yukon nugget potato hash also deserves it's own mention because they were far from ordinary - crispy, crunchy, crazy good.

Creamy not heavy with notes of citrus.

Totoro ordered the Catch 122. She enjoyed it but I agree with her in that it would have been bettered deconstructed:

Poached eggs, house-smoked and cured wild salmon,
dill creme fraiche, arguula, croissant
Catch 122 demonstrated it's worth the wait. The best brunch are complete plates - 360 degrees of happy eating. Catch 122 offers thoughtful dishes where every element is done well and delicious. This is my kind of brunch. Brunch in love.

Happy brunching!

Catch 122 Cafe Bistro on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Vancouver: Long's Noodle House

taste of shanghai
:Main + 32nd Ave:

RESTO open 11 am to 3 pm and 530 to 9 pm
@4853 Main Street Google maps

Must eats:

Xiao Long Bao

Dau Mui
An oldie but a goodie
Long's Noodle House is a long time local favourite. Eli & Cia highly recommended this place when I first asked: where can I find the best XLB aka xiao long bao aka soup dumplings. They both screamed in unison- LONG'S! 

I finally got to try it today. Course I would have missed it if I wasn't looking. The restaurant has a simple small exterior - nothing flashy - nothing that says - HEY EAT HERE, I'M AWESOME. It's adjacent to Au Petite Cafe which has a stellar reputation in its own right (best BMB). But one meal at a time. I mean I can eat, but I don't like to bite off more than I can chew...

Long's is your archetypal Asian restaurant. The hole in the wall joint your parents know about. They serve fantastic food in a casual and minimalist restaurant without a lot of seating. They have a common sharing table so you may find yourself rubbing elbows with strangers if you're a party of anything less than six.

Riri and I had a very productive day shopping so you'll see we worked up an appetite. Apart from the two dishes above, we also had:

Black Bean Beef Chow Mein

Wontons in spicy sauce.
Lin's spicy wontons are ridiculously delicious. So sadly there was no comparison.
But these were still okay.

Beef roll - tastes very different from the traditional Shanghainese ones I'm used to.
But good - flavours of lemongrass and cilantro and rare beef takes me to Vietnam.

Eli & Cia were right. The XLB were delicious. Inside the delicate think skins was rich and flavourful broth and the juiciest plumpest mounds of meat. 

I wish I had filtered through the thousands of reviews, however, because I missed another MUST eat - the wine chicken. It's beautifully presented and I hear it is also THE dish to have at Long's. Great news is, I will return. Familiar flavours with the occasional unexpected twist. It only took one bite to understand why Long's has a fan following and remains a staple on the Vancouver restaurant scene. 

Hi, you love Long's? Me too. It's official, I'm a true Vancouverite.

Two girls, Five plates.

Long's Noodle House 小龍記麵家 on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Vancouver: Sliders

small packs punch

It's true, the smaller it is, the more they will come. Why? Because cute food is tasty. Sliders place popped up near work and our little gang was down to try. We all found something we liked - whether we're vegetarian inclined or cheese adverseI recommend you go for the original - it's got Hickory Sticks. It was the clear winner. I also suggest you skip the duck because it’s prone to drying out.

They have an extensive selection and a solid choice of sides. Three sliders plus a side will cost you about $15. Not bad and if you’re an average human, you’ll be full on two and a side.

My favourite side should be obvious - tater tots. Because I am a grown child. And Sliders serves up the really bad for but really good to you kind. The type of tot that makes you feel like you don’t need anything else in life in that moment. I found happiness in a bowl of deep fried grated potato in all its artificial glory. I mean I grew up off modified treats like this and I swear I'm better for it. Remember when you were 12 and free and all you wanted was tater tots. Join me there.

Crunchy, chewy, greasy, starchy, and downright amazing.
Sliders on Urbanspoon

Portland: Eat this, Not that

hipster hellmouth

Hello, hello, baby, you called? I can’t hear a thing...sometimes I wonder if my lyric drops are lost on deaf ears :) I'm sure you are all sick of seeing the banana cream pie? Yes Taro, the sister relayed your message. 

So what’s happened since October? Not much. I was feeling uninspired due to mental exhaustion. Seriously. See normally I can come home from work and spend a few minutes to blog, but the past six months took its toll. My brain asked me to leave her alone. She wanted a break. She needed a break and well, she’s not sorry she took one.

Since I can’t make it up to you or change the past all I can do is tell you about it.

I went to Portland for the first time. And if I’m honest (when am I not?) it wasn’t one of my favourite cities. It’s beautiful, one point Oregon. It’s close to Vancouver, plus one. It smells like hipster spirit. Minus two. Guess we broke even. The service put it back on the board - best service in stores, restaurants, and bars. But considering the bar for food was set high and not everything was as good as they say. Back to zero.


Must eats:

Salt & Straw. Yes, yes and oh yes. Delicious, creamy and inventive. Momma GG got blue cheese and pear – I know right? That came out of nowhere. Go Momma GG! I went more traditional with lavender and coffee-rum.

Salt & Straw on Urbanspoon

Mother’s Bistro & Bar. The sister will be surprised. You might be too what with its average reviews but you know what – sometimes average is awesome. I knew Momma GG would love it and she did. A casual café set-up with a wide ranging menu boasting a host of familiar breakfast goodies.

Mother's Bistro & Bar on Urbanspoon

Stumptown. I get great enjoyment from the basics. Like a good cup of coffee. Simplicity is delicious. Couture coffee in blue collar city – how can you say no? It’s just like Vancouver but without annoying conversations about gluten, yoga or rain.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters on Urbanspoon

Tasty N Alder. Loved this place. Amazing service and true comfort food. Two words: FRIED CHICKEN.

DELICIOUS...the pickles too....
Now back to that chicken. Juicy, crispy, perfect.

Tasty n Alder on Urbanspoon

And since you take the good, you take the bad, you put 'em together and there you have...the DE FACTO NOs, i.e. I would not eat this (again):

VoodooDoughnuts. I’m normally good at weeding out tourist traps but respected sources said I’d like it. Nope. Short line (5 man strong). Ordered two. Took a bite. Threw it out. Took a bite. Threw it out. Voodoo and the pink box and what’s inside is like buying a jar of maple syrup when visiting Canada. Don’t do it. Ever.

Don't eat this.
Voodoo Doughnut on Urbanspoon

AvaGenes. Popular, acclaimed, yet entirely average. Great interior, good service but sadly the food was okay. I expected more – especially if you take into account its reputation and the fact Portland is supposedly on another level. The pumpkin salad with brown butter and their non traditional garlic bread were standouts but the pastas were bland and the arancini balls didn’t even break my top 10. Course I’ve had some stellar ones so they had big balls to fill.

Don't eat this either.
Ava Gene's on Urbanspoon

Besaws. Disappointing but in a great neighbourhood.

You could eat this but why?
Besaw's on Urbanspoon

Departure. Very cool resto, expensive yet not necessarily delicious.

Too terrible to eat.
Departure on Urbanspoon

Food trucks. If you like the novelty, sure, after all it’s a Portland staple but FYI, not ideal for mothers. Momma GG didn’t enjoy the experience. I would recommend doing your research before you go otherwise you will waste your time circling and circling. Nong’s is famous – but I skipped it lieu of trying Grinds. And try I did…I asked them for every protein but I’d only call the fried chicken good because it had the flavours of chicken karaage but where was the crunch? 

Grinds 808. Fine, you can eat this.

To end on a positive note...oogle the colours of creamy delight: