Ethiopian Food and Coffee @ Pero Restaurant and Lounge

For my 25th birthday me and a few friends celebrated by venturing into some Ethiopian dining. I had walked passed Pero hundreds of times but had yet to venture in. They had pretty rave reviews on Blogto and Yelp, so it was worth a venture in.

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A few of us shared the signature Pero Platter which had lamb, chicken in red sauce, three vegetarian dishes and a green salad in the middle. In Ethiopian culture food is not eaten with forks and knives. Instead, Injera a spongey type of flat bread is used to pick up food. It was really interesting because it soaked up the aromatic sauces of all the food. Everything was pretty delicious. The Timitimo Tsebhi, a yellow lentil stew thing had a nice creamy texture, the chickpeas were eaten up right away and the chicken and lamb were delectable. Plus, who wouldn’t like a plate or utensil that could be eaten?

 
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The other thing I tried was the Special Kitfo which was a minced beef with a spice called mimita. Mimita is a blend of bird’s eye red pepper, cardamom seeds, cloves and salt. They had a little thing of it at the side that we could spice to our own liking. The dish itself was already a tiny bit spicy and very flavorful.
 
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Since we had all eaten with our hands, we were given warm water with lotus flowers to wash them in when we were finished with our meal.
 
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I had heard about the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony before and I thought since we were at a restaurant it would only be appropriate. The ceremony took couple of stages. First the beans were roasted and the host teased us (and the entire restaurant) with the fumes. While we waited for the beans to be crushed and turned into coffee, we had popcorn. I asked the host if he knew the origin of why Ethiopian’s use popcorn and he did not know. However he explained that when it is someone’s birthday they often put a type of bread on it. So, I pointed out that we were celebrating my birthday….
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… and he lit the bar on fire and gave us free lemoncello shots, which was probably more awesome than bread on popcorn.

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Then the coffee came and was served in little tiny cups. I drank it black and it wasn’t as bitter and strong as I expected it to be. Apparently it had quite a bit of caffeine because I drank two little cups and now I’m still up at 1:33am writing this post (after some alcohol and a long ride home). Anyways, for the price, the amazing service and exciting but tasty food, I am totally coming back.

Pero Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

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Valentine’s Day at The Stockyards

Since we are still underemployed, we decided to have a low-key Valentine’s Day. We put aside fancy dinners to something that was both affordable and delicious. So I decided to search “pulled pork” in yelp and discovered The Stockyards: Smokehouse and Larder. We’re totally suckers for comfort food and when we sat down in front of this sign, we knew we were in the right place.
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Their menu had burgers, fried chicken, and of course the slow-cooked ribs and pulled pork.
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I ordered the Cider Braised Pork Sandwich ($11). The pork was braised in cider and served with sauteed kale, caramelized onion, apple, fried sage. There was a garlic mayo sauce as well as some cider juices. I added some shoestring fries.
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The sandwich was delicious and a lot more filling than the portion size makes it look. It was chocked full of meat after all. There was a nice acidity from the cider and very different from the usual BBQ sauce soaked type of pulled pork sandwiches.
 
Nash ordered The Green Chili Pimento Cheese Burger $9 with fries. The burger had lettuce, cheddar, mayo, pimento and jalapeno. It was very juicy and had a nice kick to it.
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Who says you need to drop $200 on Valentine’s Day on food that you might not entirely understand? All I need are things that are delicious.

The Stockyards Smokehouse & Larder on Urbanspoon

Bullying Affects All.. To This Day

Growing up, I was the bookworm, the nerd, the keener, the teacher’s pet. The smart ass. By grade five, I also had ridiculous glasses. I was constantly called names, made fun of. Pens thrown at me. Despite being a skinny Asian girl, I had a negative self-image. It wasn’t until later in University that I truly felt beautiful.

Talking about bullying isn’t an easy thing. Friends and parents tell you to “ignore it” that it’s just kids being kids. That was much easier said than done.

My boyfriend showed me Shane Koyczan’s To This Day Project. The poem, written by Koyczan features work from animators and motion artist who worked together to provide 20 second segments in their unique style. Tied together with some emotionally charged reading and powerful music they aim to share the impacts of bullying.

I may be older now but there are still outstanding effects of being bullied. I have self-confidence and anxiety issues that I still deal with from time to time. However, if I learnt anything over the last couple of years, it is to be true to myself. And to share the experiences, because that’s the only way for people to acknowledge that bullying hurts and is much more common than they realize.

The Power of Why

thepowerofwhyAs adults, we have grown up thinking that questioning the norm is faux-pas. As a child we go through school systems where the one that asks the most questions is usually the most annoying kid. The one with the bad grades. We have learnt to spew out the right answers for good grades without much questions. It’s the way we’re taught, to get all As in order to get into a university, get a job etc. This creates generations of people who forget how to be curious.

In Amanda Lang’s The Power Of Why she demonstrates the importance of asking questions. She uses what is called the ctrl + alt + del method of thinking without boundaries set by what we think we already know. The book has some cool examples of inventions such as the Soccket and the Saw Stop that were developed because their inventors failed to believe that it was impossible. Instead they asked “Why not?” and found out ways around it.

I was one of those people who didn’t really question much in school but I grew more curious after reading this book. It’s a good read for people who want to learn how to be more innovative or look at the world a little differently. Every once in a while, we should remember what is like to be that 3 year old kid who can’t stop asking Why?.

Make Your To-List Into A Game With HabitRPG

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In the past, I have tried so many different to-list programs and apps, but none of those ever worked or I’d forget about them and just resort to the traditional pen and paper. That was until I discovered HabitRPG. I’ve been using them since the beginning of their Kickstarter campaign (which is now more than fully funded) and my productivity has certainly increased.

What’s cool about this to-do list and habit list is that it is like a game. There are a few game-like applications out there, but they are too much game. This one is simple, you gain experience points and gold and silver. These can be used to buy weapons and armour as well as any guilty pleasures you can custom define. For example, you can make that Game of Thrones episode cost 5 gold so you can feel like you earned it.

It runs on an honor system. You check off all the things you do right and take off points for what you do wrong. If you cheat, you’re just cheating yourself anyway. There’s also a Chrome Extension you can use to gain and lose points for vice and productive sites.

The site is still in it’s infancy with more upcoming features and a promised iPhone/Android app. They’ve just introduced a “party” feature so you can compete with your friends and perhaps do group challenges and boss battles in the future.

The Only Things I Remember From Having Leukemia

It wasn’t until I was around 20 that I learnt why I was sick when I was around 4. Growing up I just periodically had to go to Sick Kids for checkups every year and I just assumed it was a regular routine thing for a growing child. I’m completely healthy now, whatever strain of leukemia I had (I’m still somewhat unclear on all the details), it was curable. Doctor visits have become much less frequent and trying to recall the events of back then is actually rather difficult. Here are some things I do remember:

I remember my doctor’s name was Dr. Freeman. Other than that, I don’t remember what he looks like. Every time I try to picture him I get the image of Colonel Sanders from Kentucky Fried Chicken. Maybe that is what he looked like.

COLONEL SANDERS

I remember ALF came to visit me in the hospital and it was fuckin’ frightening for a 4 year old. Also I’m pretty sure I still have the pogs he gave me.
alfI remember playing with a kitchen set. It was yellow, and I loved pretending to cook pretend food.

I remember wearing a weird fanny pack for a while when I was out of the hospital. It made me feel like a robot. Around the same time my parents also threw out all the microwaves and we weren’t allowed to have them until 10 years later.

I remember making friends with a girl name Sarah. She had down syndrome. I wonder where she is now and how she is doing.

What I don’t  remember is what it felt like to be sick or how I got there. I don’t remember all the depressing parts of being sick. I have Sick Kids Hospital to thank for that.

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

100yearoldman It’s never too late to start over. Even if you are an 100 year old man who is stuck in a nursing home. That’s the premise of of this Jonas Jonassan novel.

100 year old Alan jumps out the window in the beginning of the book and gets himself into a wild and somewhat absurd adventure. The chapters alternate between the adventure and telling the entire history of the 100 year old man’s life up to the point where he jumps out the window. The style of writing was adorable, but quite simple third person style with short sentences.

Alan’s life story delves with a lot of world history (partially fictional of course). As a person who has never quite been into politics and history, I learnt a lot of the political view points of past world leaders. I wish high school history was this exciting, or had elephants.