Night lights

Taipei - it's a 24/7 city life

As the sun falls asleep the city awakens.

Lights of every colour flash left, right and center.

People spill out of the metro coming home from work, old men and women wheel their carts into selling positions, and rivers of smoke crawl up from the vendors squished along the sidewalks.

The air thickens with steam, you can hear the crackling and spitting of meats deep-frying, inhaling a new aroma with every step you take.

When the daylight is extinguished the night market is revealed.

You step onto that side-street around the corner, and find yourself thrown into a herd of people crammed among stalls with restaurants and everything stores peaking out from behind. They line up at their favourite dumpling stand and sort through tables piled high with cheap clothing. Around midnight the hungry leave with full, satisfied bellies and the bargain hunters clutching their bursting bags.

Spotted all over the city, and across the country, Taiwan is famous for these gems.

No matter the time, there always seems to be people about, shops open, and sounds in the street, interrupted by the constant jingle of the nearest 7/11 doors sliding open.

No matter the time, I always feel safe in this city.

Vendors continue frying, steaming and juicing into the early hours of the night.

Then as the sun rises, a new day continues where the last left off.
Never really finishing, never really starting.


And then I moved to Taiwan

If someone were to have told me a year ago that in one year I'd be living in Taiwan, 

that I'd be eating bamboo shoots,

drinking bubble milk tea,

learning to read Chinese menus,

and zigzagging through crowds on a scooter...

I'd have thought they were crazy.

In fact, at any moment in my life if someone had told me I'd be moving to the opposite side of the world to this beautiful, tropical island I wouldn't have believed it.

I mean... Taiwan?! Where's that, right?

(And yes I said Taiwan, not Thailand - a mistake that countless people tend to make. Such as when friends made their farewells, singing "Have a great time in Thailand!")

And yet here I am. One year in France, barely 3 weeks back in my beloved Canadian home and I find myself transported to the hot and humid island of Taiwan.

What can I say? I just can't seem to shake the travel bug I caught when down under in Sydney, Australia. Apparently they have yet to find a cure, but I'm not complaining.

Welcome to my neighborhood in Taipei where I'll be living for the next year.

Can I show you around? Maybe interest you in some dumplings?


New Home

Where in the world...?

Know where I am yet?



I knew it was going to be hard to pack up and move home from France. I dreaded it the whole year.

The number of times I packed and repacked, moving things from one bag to another and tossing items into an ever-fattening garbage bag... why did I have so much stuff?

The amount of food and kitchen related objects in my bags was slightly embarrassing  and I'd rather not tell you how many pairs of shoes and clothes I threw out to make space for cake trays and spices. One of my favourite souvenirs (and one of 3 cake molds I successfully brought home) is my madeleine tray.


Madeleines - betchya can't just eat one.

I learned to make these madeleines during my first month living in my village. One of my students shared with me her mother's recipe, and taught me the tricks to making beautifully light and soft little cakes.

I made these a lot back in Canada. It became automatic - the routine of buttering and flouring the mold, filling it, baking, pop them out and repeat, repeat, repeat.

I really like them with some lemon zest or dried lavender added in. There are so many flavour options to try - you'll just have to make multiple batches too!


To obtain the little characteristic 'mounds' on the madeleines, be sure to let the batter rest for 30 minutes in the fridge. During the first 5 minutes in the oven, heighten the temperature up to 400C, then lower it back to 350C for the remaining oven time.



4 eggs
175 g caster sugar
225 g flour
100 g melted butter
2 tsp baking powder

Beat the eggs with the sugar by hand using a whisk for about 5-10 minutes. The mixture should become airy and mousse-like.

Sift the flour and baking powder together. Add to the sugar-egg mixture, followed by the melted butter. Mix well using whisk.

If adding a flavour/mix-in (vanilla, lemon zest, lavender, chocolate chips, etc.) do so now and whisk to combine.

Leave the mixture to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350C

Butter and flour your madeleine mold. Fill the molds with a dollop of the batter so that it sits in the middle, but does not touch the edges of the shell shape. 

Bake in the oven for about 12-14 minutes, until the cakes have puffed up and are starting to lightly golden. Remove cakes immediately from tray the wire-rack to cool.



After over a year in Europe, I was flying home.

With a last minute flight booked and too many farewells, it didn't really hit me that I was finally returning to Canada until I was actually in Canada... and realized how much I had forgotten it.

I felt like a tourist in my own country!

I had forgotten the small and simple things that define Canadian living, and here I was rediscovering them.

I was welcomed home by a smiling and tearful family, a bitter cat, an overexcited pup and a 12 kg bag of flour.

I found myself once again among family, long lost friends, and my dearest and most truest friends. 

We reunited together over drinks, afternoon teas and sunny walks, flowering with smiles and laughs.

I baked.

Everyday. Sometimes twice a day. Sometimes three times. 

I wanted to share all the lovely and divine French dishes and creations I had come to love during my time away, with everyone at home. But I was also so very happy to taste again the things that I had been missing so much that remind me of home.

My kitchen presented me with a chance to create fresh and fun Canadian and French fusion dishes and desserts!


I baked breads. Oh, so many breads. 

I didn't really have a choice did I? I had a 12 kg bag of flour to get through!
I don't have a bread machine, but I have decided that I really love the process of making bread. 
I spent an obscene and slightly embarrassing amount of time in the kitchen.

I don't know why I love baking so much. It's for so many reasons that I love to fluff up egg whites, beat in sugar, and watch little blobs puff and turn golden and fragrant in the oven.

I know I cook and bake because I love to share these wonderful treats with people and I love how it brings everyone together. It's a great excuse to invite others over, and gather round a table laid with fresh cakes and tea, or meals hot off the BBQ. I must say that many of our get-togethers with family and friends revolved around eating, and I was totally on-board. 

But my time home would be short and sweet.

 I barely had time to unpack before repacking my bags. Barely enough time to say hello before I had to wave goodbye.

Because I was off again, on my next adventure.


Lavender & Earl Grey Cake

If you walk across the courtyard and up the crumbling steps, you'll find the painting studio covered in ivy and roses.

Beyond the studio to the left is an old, overgrown arch, and through it you step out to a view over the pool and windy fields.

Tucked away beside the barn is swaying a beautifully blooming patch of lavender.

When I first discovered this sea of purple I immediately became obsessed with using it in recipes, both savoury and sweet. I often make cakes for afternoon tea and so I settled on making one for the arrival of new guests on Saturday.

I decided to take my favourite tourte recipe and adjust it to adopt the scents of lavender and earl grey. Drizzled with a fresh lemon glaze, this cake is a delicious marriage of flavours. The fresh lavender is aromatic, marking purple polka dots throughout the moist sponge, and the eary grey adds a subtle touch.

We enjoyed it, sipping our cups of tea in the courtyeard under the slowly sinking sun of a late afternoon.

Lavender & Earl Grey Cake


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup castor sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 packet of baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup melted butter
1/4 cup fresh or dried lavender
2 earl grey tea bags

First steep the tea bags in 3 tablespoons of boiling water for roughly 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and grease your chosen cake mould.

In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, egg yolks, baking powder, milk and melted butter. When the tea is ready add this to the mixture and discard the tea bags. Mix well.

Beat the egg whites until they form glossy peaks.

Incorporate the egg whites into the cake mixture until evenly combined.

Bake at 180C/350F for about 25-35 minutes, depending on the size and depth of your cake mould. It will be finished when an inserted knife comes out clean. Let cool on wire racks before serving.


Fleur de Sel Chocolate Cake

One of my favourite things to do here at work is brainstorm menus, and we do this a lot. The chef and I are always discussing ideas and dishes, and we tend to change the menu a few times a day.

The desserts are of course always exciting to plan. One day last week we came to a stop: we didn't know what to make! After a lot of humming and awing we realized our guests hadn't had a cake in ages, and so I was given the task of making a beautiful cake for dessert.

Challenge accepted.

I very much enjoyed searching through my favourite blogs for the perfect cake and soon found myself on Poires au Chocolat, pouring over Emma's long list of cake recipes.

I have been reading Emma's blog for quite some time now. She just has adds such a lovely and delicate touch to the desserts she creates. I always want to try her recipes, and now that I'm living in this place with a giant and well-equipped kitchen at my disposal, it seems to be the perfect chance!

It was hard to choose a cake, but together the chef and I settled on Emma's Butterfly Fleur de Sel Caramel Cake. I would create a cake just as she had, complete with chocolate butterfly.

And that I did.

In France it is quite difficult to find all the required ingredients but with a trip to the pharmacy for some gelatine, we were able to get by.

This cake is rich and chocolately and salty and sweet.

This cake is pretty and elegant.

This cake is dense and intense.

And oh the salted caramel... I die. Really, it is remarkable.

I would make this cake again just for the caramel. I am seriously having major difficulties restraining myself from dipping my finger into the jar everytime I walk by the fridge. So. good.

You can find Emma's recipe on her blog Poires au Chocolat here: Butterfly Fleur de Sel Caramel Cake