Child angel plagued by

Untimely, undeserved pains

Now one with the stars


Residency Life: Espresso Connoisseuring

Coffee: a beautiful, rich, and aromatic brewed beverage to enjoy alone or in good company.

Caffeine: a convenient native compound present in coffee beans to give us an extra kick during the day.

What better way to get a quick caffeine fix after a long day at work, and enjoy the deliciousness of coffee over good conversation than to have an espresso at a nearby coffee shop!

That was the philosophy that my friend Harrison and I had for this past few weeks. We were lucky to both have rotations at SPH this month, and we quickly discovered that coffee after work was important to keep us doing things that residents needed to do when we got home. Since we were in the downtown area, and we both loved coffee, our visits to various nearby coffee shops slowly developed into a ritual and something that I looked forward to. For us to better assess the quality of coffee at different coffee shops, our stand-by drink was always the espresso con panna (2 shots of espresso + whipped cream +/- caramel or chocolate drizzle). It helps that Harrison used to work at a coffee shop, so he has some knowledge about how espressos should be made. After trying out 5 different places’ espressos, we feel that we have a better idea of what a good espresso should taste like, and hopefully we are on our way to being espresso connoisseurs.

The places we have been to are Betty by Blenz (Burrard), Cafe de France (Hornby & Nelson), Beyond Coffee (lobby of the Century-Plaza hotel), Caffe Artigiano (Robson), and Baguette & Co. (Davie).

1) Betty by Blenz

Betty by Blenz was the first coffee shop we went to, as it is one of the closest to the hospital. On the first day we went, I didn’t even have an espresso, only Harrison did. We went a total of 3 times, and the service was quite pleasant although inconsistent. As you can tell in the pictures, different baristas used different sized cups – we wished that the large cup had been used all 3 times to minimize spillage of melted whipped cream espresso-y goodness. The espresso itself was not bad but not particularly memorable (although since it was the first place we went to, we didn’t really know how to compare). Every sip seemed to be a friendly but firm slap in the face to “wake up!”, but it had quite an acidic flavour that bordered on unpleasant near the end.

Espresso Con Panna #1 @ Betty by Blenz (Jul 31, 2013)

Espresso Con Panna #1 @ Betty by Blenz (Jul 31, 2013)

Espresso Con Panna #2 @ Betty by Blenz (Aug 1, 2013)

Espresso Con Panna #2 @ Betty by Blenz (Aug 1, 2013)

Espresso Con Panna @ Betty by Blenz (Aug 6, 2013)

Espresso Con Panna #3 @ Betty by Blenz (Aug 6, 2013)

Our rating of the espresso itself (out of 5) is 3.

Our rating of the overall experience (including service and ambiance) is 3.


2) Cafe de France

Espresso Con Panna @ Cafe de France (Aug 9, 2013)

Espresso Con Panna @ Cafe de France (Aug 9, 2013)

One day, we decided to be especially adventurous and seek a new coffee spot. This led us to Cafe de France on the corner of Hornby and Nelson, a small place run by some friendly Japanese ladies. The ambiance of the place was kind of surprising; by the name, I expected to walk into a Parisian-esque cafe, but it was slightly uncomfortably humid inside, and the menu was almost childishly hand-written on a couple of boards hanging from the ceiling. Regardless, we decided to try their espresso, and after a bit of difficulty communicating with the girl, we were able to request whipped cream and some white chocolate drizzle on top (since they didn’t have caramel drizzle). We ended up sitting outside by the street for better ventilation, and although we were quite close to the noise of cars rushing by, we were still able to enjoy our espresso. We decided almost immediately that this was better than the ones we had at Betty. FIrst of all, no spillage occurred because she used big cups! Secondly, the taste was much more pleasant. Although it still packed a punch, it was much less acidic. Ex-barista Harrison believes that it’s because this Japanese lady added the whipped cream immediately after the espresso finished dripping, and did not wait for it to sit, which he has been told in the past that it is important to minimize how acidic a coffee becomes.

Espresso experience: 3.5

Overall experience: 3.5


3) Caffe Artigiano

Espresso Con Panna @ Caffe Artigiano (Aug 15, 2013) --with special coffee bean from Brazil

Espresso Con Panna @ Caffe Artigiano (Aug 15, 2013) with special bean from Brazil

The evening after work before our Academic Day Seminar, we decided to pay Caffe Artigiano on Robson a visit for a quality study session to do our pre-readings on CAP and HAP. I had decided not to get an espresso that day, but Harrison tried the espresso they had on promotion, which was the Brazil Santa Lucia Single Origin Espresso. I tried a small sip of it, and it made me totally regret not getting on myself. It was truly the best espresso we have had so far: super nutty, silk smooth, without acidity, and full of depth in flavour that words cannot describe. The barista was also very friendly and helpful, and even gave Harrison the whipped cream for free after he so sneakily asked for it after he paid. My one complaint was their baked goods…I ordered a lemon ricotta muffin to go with my drip coffee, but it tasted like the muffin was not fresh, so it wasn’t that great. If you get baked goods there, make sure to ask how long it’s been out.

Espresso experience: 4.5

Overall experience: 3.5


4) Beyond Coffee

Espresso Con Panna @ Beyond Coffee (Aug 19, 2013)

Espresso Con Panna @ Beyond Coffee (Aug 19, 2013)

I’ll preface this review by saying that it definitely was not the best experience. First of all, the barista who took our orders looked like she was having an extremely bad day, and did not spare any efforts in hiding it. Very poor in terms of customer service, but I must say that it was the first time I experienced this – usually the baristas there are super personable and friendly. In any case, the espressos we ordered seemed to reflect the barista’s sentiments of the day. It was, quite honestly, the worst tasting espresso that we had ever tried. It was extremely unpleasantly bitter, so much so that we wanted to gag after every sip. It was also not so great that the spillage was quite enormous (as you can tell by the photos). Conclusion: W will never get their espresso again.

Espresso experience: 1

Overall experience: 2


5) Baguette & Co.

Espresso Machiatto (with treats!) @ Baguette & Co. (Aug 20, 2013)

Espresso Machiatto (with treats!) @ Baguette & Co. (Aug 20, 2013)

Seeking yet another place, we decided to visit Baguette & Co. I had been there previously and enjoyed their lunch special very much (delicious panini + pastry + coffee/tea for a great price), and we were not disappointed by the espresso and pastries we ordered. Unfortunately they did not have whipped cream to make espresso con panna, so we ended up ordering an espresso machiatto each. The first few sips were quite delightful. The espresso was very smooth and had a timid, mellow flavour that was still full of body. However, as we let it sit for longer and continued to sip at it, it became progressively more acidic, although never to a point that it became unpleasant. I must also say, that lemon tart was amazing (just the right amount of tartness), and the berry mousse cake and napoleon were quite good as well. Having that piece of chocolate at the end was quite a treat too (even though I’m quite sure it’s from Costco). A definite plus was that the cups were filled to the brim, but no spillage! Also, the cups themselves were pretty cool with their square base – apparently “Cordon Bleu”, made in China, though. But still cool.

Espresso experience: 3.5

Overall experience: 4

Macaron Diary: Entry of first success!

So I’m not sure how the macaron hype started, but recently I’ve been seeing more photos of people getting amazing macarons from specialty shops than of people sleeping in class. And although I have yet to set foot in one of these sweet shops, I have not been left behind in this wave of macaron obsession. After a friend showed me a video of some guys with amazing accents make them, I became motivated to create some of my own.

Today marks the 4th time that I’ve tried to make macarons, and I can happily say that I have finally succeeded! Those of you who have made them before will likely agree with me that it takes quite a bit of trial and error to figure out what works best with your own resources at home to create macarons of optimal quality. So long story short, I finally found a way to make macarons that has worked best for me so far (but FAR from perfect), and I’d like to share it with you!

Here is the video that I mentioned above:

And my recipe has been based off the one that was used in the video, and can be found here.

Anywho, here is my specially modified recipe!


  • 3 egg whites
  • 75 g castor sugar
  • 125 g almond meal
  • 160 g icing sugar
  • 15 g black sesame powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • filling…anything you like! (I used nutella mixed with jam)


  1. separate the egg whites from the yolks and in a clean, dry bowl, and let stand for ~15-20 minutes at room temperature while completing step 2. (I have yet to find out why some recipes recommend letting the egg whites age for at least 24 hours before using them…which I didn’t do here, FYI. I also have yet to find out whether letting it out to stand for a bit before whisking them has any significance…but just recording everything that I’ve done here!)
  2. sieve the almond meal, icing sugar, and black sesame as much as possible into a clean, dry bowl, and ensure this is well mixed.
  3. whisk the whites until thick and glossy.
  4. add the castor sugar and whisk again until stiff.
  5. add the dry mix into the whisked egg white bowl in a few portions and carefully fold in,retaining as much air as possible.
  6. add vanilla extract and mix again.
  7. put mixture into a piping bag (or ziplock bag, anything similar)
  8. line a baking tray with parchment paper and pipe circles onto the tray, leaving a small gap between each macaron. (and yes, there IS a technique to piping macarons, as my super bake savvy professor has mentioned to me! In my trials, I’ve tried doing it in a spiral fashion so that it resembles a pile of poop, but today I noticed that it works much better if you position the tip of your piping bag (or ziplock bag) in the spot where you want the centre of your macaron to be, squeeze to dispense the mixture, and concurrently move your bag in a slow upwards motion as the blob of mixture on the tray is amounted to your liking, then release your squeeze. And I’m sure there are some places on the web that teach you exactly what is the best way to pipe…but I haven’t looked and I could be completely wrong! But it’s what has worked best for me so far. 😛 I still get a little pointy tip on most of them…but maybe I’ll be able to get rid of it once I get a proper piping bag!)
  9. put the tray to one side to rest for at least 20 minutes to allow a slight skin to form. (1. you may need more than 1 tray. 2. letting it out to rest is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! I learned this the hard way because again I didn’t look it up, nor did the recipes I looked at tell me why…but you must leave it out to rest so that a skin forms to ensure that during the baking process, while your macarons expand slightly, the tops do not crack!)
  10. preheat the oven to 280°F.
  11. pick the tray up and drop it onto a flat surface from a small height… this forms the ‘feet’ that is associated with macarons.(you may not actually see anything happen after you do this, but results do show up after they start baking.)
  12. bake for 15 minutes, then remove and allow to chill at room temperature until completely cold. (I would probably tack on an extra 2-3 minutes the next time I make this, because most of them came out a tad too moist in the middle and probably underbaked (see below). But at least they aren’t burnt or overbaked like my first 2 trials! Your oven might be different, so for your first time making this, you might want to watch them while they bake. At 280°F, it’s less likely that they will burn quickly, but watch out for yummy baked smell -> burning smell…and the bottoms of the macarons should be minimally browned only. Once you start to see the sides of the macaron turn brown in the oven…that means they are likely overbaked.)
  13. sandwich the macarons with a filling of choice… (I used nutella mixed with fruit jam! OMNOMNOMNOM)
  14. serve and eat within 48 hours when at their freshest.

And there we have it…give it a try and let me know how it goes! I’m really not a baker, so I can’t even begin to fathom how much I need to learn still…if you have had any macaron experience, please share your baking pearls below so that I may learn from you and make improvements!! Would be greatly appreciated 🙂

My Amigurumi & Crocheting Journey thus far…

My interest in crocheting sparked in July 2010 during one of my mother’s yarn phases. While she crocheted a very practical toque, I decided to learn how to crochet as well, but was more interested in impractical things. More specifically, I was fascinated by amigurumi, and yearned to be able to conjure creatures with my own two hands. Therefore, I began searching for feasible patterns online to start my journey. Since then, I have learned how to read patterns, learned which is the right side facing out, and began crocheting various things to share with and gift those close to me. It’s funny, looking back now, I realize that I never kept any of these for myself. I suppose it’s because I always start a project because it is planned as a gift, and I love being able to share what I made with other people, hopefully to brighten their day.

Most of the items that I have made, shown above, followed patterns that were lovingly created and shared by wonderful individuals of the crocheting community. I am so grateful to these people for their youtube tutorials and awesome patterns as they have been integral to my learning process in crocheting. Thank you! Some of the items above were created by me without the use of a pattern. I hope that as I become more experienced, I will be able to give back to the crocheting community with a few patterns of my own. 🙂

Here I would like to credit the original creators of the items above, from left to right, top to bottom:

  1. Bobbly Wobbly bear pattern: Cynthia Sickler
  2. Luma from Super Mario Galaxy pattern: Linda Potts @ WolfDreamer
  3. Georgina the Giraffe pattern: Lion Brand Yarn website
  4. Pill: Me!
  5. Red Heart pattern: Tami @ Roxicraft
  6. Domocube pattern: Kayla Kulture
  7. Kirby + mario/luigi caps + crown: Nerdigurumi. Chef hat: Me!
  8. Graduation mortarboard: Me!
  9. Kiwi Earrings pattern:
  10. Paper-clip Ice Skates pattern: Myra Shaw @
  11. Mahjong tile keychain: Me!
  12. Tiny Striped Turtle pattern: Kristiekids