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Real, raw, & relatable me. Enthusiastic food & lifestyle blogger living in Vancouver, BC!

Category: products

Porto Vino, portable wine bag

Porto Vino: Bring the Party

Those who know me, know it is no surprise that I love to drink. My social media is rife with photos of wine, beer, and spirits. And even more of me with a glass in hand, dreaming of all the glasses to come. So what better way to take my enthusiasm for the drink, and fermented grapes in particular, than to carry my own wine barrel in tow? … so to speak.

In this post I will be drinking more fashionably, literally and figuratively with the Porto-vino wine purse and beverage bag. And this post is the review of my thoughts.

Despite its name, you can actually fill the bag with any drink, spirited or not. Similarly, I happen to own their purse version, but this practical creation is also available as a tote bag, messenger bag, and/or even backpack. So you can bring your wine to work, vacation, and/or travel. Basically anywhere you would bring any of these carrying cases you can also have wine or a beverage over your shoulder. For ease of writing I will refer to my drink of choice for this purse: wine.

How it works is, you first choose your wine. Red, white, pink, or blue; they all work fine (and yes blue wine does exist).

In order to fill the portable keg, you need to remove the waterproof pouch from the side pocket. This pocket is lined with thermal material meant to keep your drinks (in the pouch) cooler and your bag drier.

After your unscrew the tap from the pouch, you then pour your entire bottle of wine into it. This pouch is referred to as the bag’s bladder. Given the referencing of liquid, this term makes sense. The bladder can hold 1.5 litres of wine, which is a bottle and then some.

Next, you push the tap in and turn until you hear two clicks. This ensure that nothing spills out. You then insert the bladder back into the side pouch. It is easiest to do by lining up the plastic tap with the flap on the side of the bag. This flap is where the nozzle sticks out when in use.

If this is your first time using the bag, you will need to remove a piece of plastic. Doing so frees up your ability to push the top button down and the lift the side levers up. (It is actually a lot easier than I am making it sound.)

To see the bag in action and to learn how to use it, check out my latest drinking Vlog on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

From here the possibilities are endless. Take you bag and your drink to go, and you become a party on the go. Or maybe you have ordered a bottle of wine at the restaurant and can’t finish, here your Porto-vino bag becomes the best doggy bag.

Either way this is a great gift for any wine lover on your list. I highly suggest getting yourself one and one for your friend to match. And you can do so by visiting the link below. Happy drinking.

PORTO-VINO
https://porto-vino.com/

Halo Top ice cream in Canada

“Halo Top” ice cream has recently hit Canadian grocery shelves, specifically the refrigerated section of your “Real Canadian SuperStore” and “Save On Foods”; and people have been going crazy for them. So I decided to visit both, across several locations, in order collect all the available flavours to conduct my own taste test. The goal was to see why did “Halo Top’s” reputation proceed them.

First it needs to be noted that “Halo Top” is clever for only offering certain flavours in certain countries; and that within each country, only certain flavours are available at certain grocery chains. They are the “frozen dairy dessert” brand known for their deliciousness despite their lower calorie count. But don’t be fooled like me, the numbers on the cardboard cup is not the total calorie count for the entire 473ml pint, but only for a fraction of it. For example the “Birthday Cake” flavour has the lowest calorie count at 80 calories. The 80 calories are for every 125ml serving. It also only has 6g of sugar per that 125ml serving. Great, but if you are like me, limiting yourself to half a cup of ice cream would be hard, so be prepared to do some math to see how many calories you actually have to work off.

Although, if you are like me, calories and having to count them, isn’t actually something you think about, is the ice cream still worth getting, for its flavour alone? Continuing reading to see if these $8 pints are worth checking out for yourself. And if so, which one should you be trying?

To watch the vlog version of this ice creamy review, visit my YouTube Channel: MaggiMei for my latest video.

 

To be honest when I originally filmed my review, versus my assessment here, my opinion of the below has changed. Maybe I was hungry in my video and should have eaten something more solid, before endeavouring on 6 pints of ice cream first thing in the morning. Or maybe I just enjoy ice cream more later at night. But whatever the reason, my second go at them all was better. I liked them more and now would more likely purchase my favourite flavours, even at the $8 price tag. And once again, I don’t calorie count, but if I did I would probably swear by these pints.

The first flavour I tried ended up being my favourite. “Mint Chip” had the perfect balance of refreshing mint versus bitter dark chocolatey chips, all bound together in a sweet vanilla ice cream base. It makes for a great palette refresher, or that dessert to perk you up after a heavier meal. My first bite had me finishing 3/4 of the same pint in one sitting, and I could have kept going if I didn’t catch myself. And it was because of this reaction did I decided to go out and gather all the other flavours, to see if they were just as good.

The “Birthday Cake” is a vanilla base ice cream that tastes like frosting and cake batter, with the sprinkles you’d expect from such a cake, mixed in. I personally could have used more sprinkles, but to keep it at 6g of sugar and 80 calories for a 125ml serving, sacrifices had to made.

“Sea Salt Caramel” was your classic flavour. Plenty of caramel in ribbons, woven through out the french vanilla ice cream base. Must like caramel and sugar, as this is definitely on the sweeter side.

Similar in flavour and sweetness was the “Pancakes & Waffles”. Except subtract caramel for maple syrup. It was a smokey sweetness with bits of batter to chew through. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I wished for some saltiness to balance things out. But I guess that would be their Chicken and Waffles flavour?

The “Peanut Butter Swirl” delivered on its name. As a peanut butter lover I found the taste was spot on, especially when you hit the actual swirls of peanut butter hidden throughout the more mild peanut butter flavoured ice cream (in comparison). I would have liked some crushed nuts in this one, as I prefer my peanut butter chunky. Or maybe some brittle to give it a textural chew. I would also love to see this flavour remixed with some jam for a peanut butter and jelly collab, or does that already exist?

The “Candy Bar” pint had the highest calorie count at 100, it also had the most going on within its cardboard cup. A malted chocolate base with swirls of fudge and crushed up peanuts. It was like having a hot chocolate sundae, minus the whipped cream and cherry on top. I liked the inconsistent spoonfuls and the bit of texture from chewing the tiny specks of peanuts sprinkled throughout.

 

Overall a great ice cream brand to check out, and now available at your local grocery stores at the right time. The weather is getting warmer and people are starting to consider their beach bodies. So being able to fully enjoy ice cream at a fraction of the calories is surely worth the extra cost right?

HALO TOP
halotop.com

 

 

 

Movement108, presented by Saucony

Those who know me know that the last thing I’d ever want to do is exercise. I hate sweating and having to wash my long hair after sweating. However when presented with an opportunity to try something new, my curious spirit outweighs my lazy one. So this morning, at 9am I was found myself walking into “Movement108” for a fitness class.

This was a session sponsored by the athletic brand “Saucony”, founded two years after the first Olympic marathon and dedicated to running ever since. I have heard of the brand, but have never experienced it or its merchandise first hand. That was until today, when they geared me up for the morning ahead with my first set of actual and purposeful active wear. There are so many other athletic brands out there that I grew up with instead, so I was excited to see first hand what set “Saucony” apart. I was gifted gear from head to toe, with every everything I needed for a good work, minus the bra and underwear.

The shoes were surprisingly comfortable. They fit small so a half size up was the right ones for me. Shockingly they were easy to slip on and snug to stay on; even with no laces. Walking in them felt like you were gliding on padded ground. Each step was well cushioned, ideal for walking, jogging, running, and everything in between. Best, with their no slip socks that helped with the cushioning of my sole.

I had my option of tops between a supportive tank with peak-a-boo back or a loose fitting tee; both meant to absorb and wick-away moisture. Moisture like the bucket of sweat I would soon exude. But best of all was the yoga pants. This set of stretchy spandex leggings are the most supportive and comfortable I have ever wriggled myself into. A combination of lulu’s and Spanx. They have the wearability of Lululemon yoga pant; thick and dressy enough to wear around day to day, and maybe even low key to work. And the suppressing and forming abilities of Spanx shape wear. It sat firm and at all the right place to hide my muffin top. All above had me wondering what one of their supportive sports bras would have felt like.

Now that I was geared up it was time to put it all to the test. Luckily I was at the right place to do just that. Like it’s name suggests, “Movement108” is a fitness centre where the goal getting you to move. Movement with the focus of balance and strength, in order to foster mobility and stability in your every day motions.

Admittedly I am not a fit person, nor is it my goal to be. I work on my feet 9 hours a day and am use to walking great distances, and that has kept me relatively healthy. So already I knew I had an up hill climb. But I was motivated to do my best with the company I was in, including @pekopekolife, whom I was the plus one of. She and the instructor were great in keeping me going with their support and belief in me. Although towards the end of our session I was firm in listening to my body and knowing when to not push myself.

As for the actual hour long session we began by taking advantage of the clear day. We started our time together with a light jog around the block to get us warmed up.

 

When we got back in the studio we utilized the entire space and all the equipment in a series of exercises. Mind you, I am not sure of all the real names of things, so my recap is by novice descriptions of both the equipment and exercises. Kettle bells for squats and pushes, weighted balls for throw downs and pick ups, stretchy handlebars attached to a bar for lifting your own body weight, giant crates to step up on to, and heavy braided ropes attached to the wall to lift and slap against the ground. Each motion activated a different party of my body, and boy did I feel it. As intensive as it all was for a beginner, there were abbreviations you could make, to ease the difficulty level. On the flip side you could also edit the routine to give yourself an even greater challenge.

 

Each class is different and catered to the one taking it, so I won’t be going into detail on what it is we actually did. Instead, I invite you to visit their website and use it for a self guided consultation. But know that immediately after this class, my well used legs were sore from buttock to ankle. And the day after the whole body followed in soreness. So know that it was a good workout, and one that I was feeling days to come. Every body part got stretched and pulled without my realizing it; s every part was sore because of it. I don’t think I have ever been so sore from doing anything in my life.

In short, they are worth checking out if you are like me. You need something/someone/a reason to push and drive you in to a work out. Left to my own devices I would not visit my own home gym, let alone engage in any of the above. It is like university courses taken online, I am not driven enough as a student to do the work myself. I need somewhere to be and someone telling me what to do to in order for me to gain. And here they do it to great music and plenty of variety to keep you continuously engaged. In short a morning well spent, trying something new, and doing something that helped to better myself.

 

MOVEMENT 108
108-1529 6th Ave West, Vancouver BC, V6J 1R1
604-999-4385
movement108.com

 

SAUCONY
saucony.com

Testing Redee, an alcohol flush support product

How I avoid the Asian glow and give myself the ability to drink as much I do.

 

Whether are you seeing it or not, every one of my drinking escapades actually starts off with what I call my “drinking pill”. Aka the antacid pill, “Zantac”. A friend introduced the possibility of taking an antacid to help further my ability to drink and to avoid the dreaded Asian glow. And since then I have tried several different brands and percentages until I figured that “Zantac 150” worked the best for me. I need to take it before I drink to avoid turning red and having the feeling of heat creeping across my face and chest.

If I have the fore thought, I take one before I plan to drink. This prevents me from turning the least bit flush. So most of the time I keep them on me in case I find myself with the opportunity to drink. If I only remember to take one after a drink in, I will be left with nice rosy cheeks. It won’t helps me from turning any redder, and it even helps to bring down any colouring that is already there.

I typically pop one with a drink, often swallowing it with a spirit, beer or wine. And what it does is help my body break down alcohol, whereas my ancestors unfortunately weren’t able to pass that skill on to me. Not only do I avoid the Asian glow this way, but I have learned from continuous experience that these little triangles also help double, if not triple my drinking tolerance. Which means “Zantac” makes me be the drinking superhero I know I can and should be. I have purchased so many blister packs and turned so many others on to its magic that realistically they should be my sponsor and I their spokesperson and advocate.

Disclaimer:

The views expressed are my own. The actions of one person need not affect your own. Do your own research, question the “facts”, and proceed with caution.

According to google: “H2 (histamine) blockers (like Zantac and Pepcid) slow the metabolism of alcohol, increasing peak blood alcohol concentration to potentially dangerous levels.” In other words, antihistamines increase the rate at which blood alcohol levels rise, and can cause you to reach your limit much more quickly. If you’re not careful, you can reach toxic levels more quickly than you anticipate, making it more likely to experience alcohol poisoning and requiring hospitalization”.

I myself have been using this method for years and have encountered no issue. Nonetheless please proceed with caution.

But today I will be drinking, and leaving my secret weapon behind. Because today Joyce of @monkeyeatsworld and I tested a couple drinking patches. “Redee” reached out to her offering us a trial of their alcohol flush support product, wanting our feedback on how to improve them. The version we were testing this evening was actually their third rendition. Three times before they solicited a series of feedback, which they used to improve on their product to this point.

Each little patch is full of vitamins, antioxidants, and plant extracts. This propriety mix is released in to your body to help avoid that pesky Asian-glow. It is advised that you take 1-2 patches 20-30 minutes before your first drink. Two are for those who get flushed a great deal. It is advised that you peel off the sticker-ed patch and apply it to a dry and hairless part of your body, somewhere between the neck and waist region. They recommend the upper arm, shoulder, forearm, back, and chest.

 

So in my newest YouTube video, on my channel: MaggiMei we took this patch on a gauntlet of a product testing. A bottle of green tea sake at 7.5%, shared between two girls in the span of 60 minutes. For the complete review and how the product fared, check out the video. See for yourself if they are worth you purchasing. This version is available for purchase now. And if it doesn’t work for you, they offer a full money back guarantee to bring in those cautious skeptics.

 

REDEE PATCH
redeepatch.com

OneCoffee review

Today I was invited to “Medina cafe” for the “OneCoffee” launch. Well to be specific, the celebratory launch of “OneCoffee’s” single-serve coffee pods being 100% compostable. They have been around for 4 years now, as Western Canada’s largest coffee roaster operating out of Burnaby and Richmond, respectively. But during that time they were only 80-90% compostable, and slowly working towards their goal of getting to 100% . And today they were, and we were all gathered to acknowledge that fact with their coffee.

This was done by pairing it with one of four popular “Medina” menu items. Each option included which of the three roasts, we were tasting today, that would be the best compliment to it.

The “Fricasse” was the crowd favourite, as it is the restaurant’s better seller. Two sunny side up eggs, braised short ribs, roasted potatoes, caramelized onions, applewood smoked cheddar, arugula, and grilled focaccia.

It is best paired with “OneCoffee’s Sumatran blend”. A full bodied dark roast with smokey, fruity, and earthy notes. Ideal with spicier flavours.

Another popular dish is their “Paella”. Here it is with two poached egg, orzo, spicy chorizo sausage, seasonal vegetables, grana padano, avocado, and a spicy charred tomato salad. This was also best pair with “OneCoffee”s Sumatran blend”, as it too was on the spicier side.

I had the “Saumon Fume”, a lighter dish that went best with a medium brew. This is a slice of grilled sourdough topped with smoked wild salmon cream cheese, avocado, sweety drop peppers, artichoke, and one sunny egg to finish it off.

It’s pairing was the “OneCoffee Ethiopian blend”. A fuller bodied coffee with winey, fruity, and mostly floral notes.

No one around me had the vegetarian “Fritta”. But if they did the “OneCoffee Colombian blend” would be the best to pair with it. Truth be told I don’t drink coffee all that often, but if I did, this is the cup I wouldn’t mind. It was easy to drink, with winey and citrus notes.

And for dessert we were treated to”Medina’s” popular liege-style waffle paired with a specialty made topping featuring “OneCoffee”. A milk chocolate, lavender, and mocha sauce infused with “OneCoffee”. It was definitely a great way to end our brunch.

For those looking to try “OneCoffee” 100% compostable coffeee machine pods, they are available in “London Drugs, the organic isle of “Superstore”, “Choices, and “Whole Foods”.

ONE COFFEE
http://onecoffee.com

SKYE Footwear, review

The footwear market is such a huge space. You have so many options constantly bombarding you. So how do you choose? The tried and true method is the brand route: the top logo paired with the latest motif. But fast forward, and a month later you see your latest purchase in a clearance bin, and now you are no longer on the forefront of fashion. So then there is choosing your shoe based on utility. Picking what goes on your foot for its features and having it fit your lifestyle. This is what “Skye Footwear” brings to the table. And the older I get, the more my practical self appreciates such choices. Why spend hundreds on the latest fad, when you can get a shoe for less that will last you longer? And here it is an added perk that you will be representing Vancouver with SKYE on your feet.

SKYE Footwear is an innovative sneaker company that prides themselves on having started in our fair city. Their origin story begins with a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2016, so you know there is already a market for what they are offering. And come 2017 they are now selling their lifestyle footwear online and in select stores and boutiques around Vancouver.

This last Christmas, as a gift, I was able to try these local loafers, as an introduction to their Fall/Winter 2017 lineup. In navigating their website and and choosing my desired style I learned a bit more of what makes them unique in this saturated space.

SKYE’s fall/winter line includes two styles, their names inspired by the company’s hometown of Vancouver, BC. “The Rbutus EL” are “Winterized runner style, for comfort in the cold; all night or day. Great for hikes, bikes, and getting likes. And “The Powll EL” are “Winterized desert boot, for walks when it’s wet; at work or play.” And with Vancouver being the “green city” that the rest of the country knows us for, and being based out of Vancouver, SKYR of course made sure to factor in sustainability when manufacturing their sneakers. They are environmentally conscious and have made most of their shoes biodegradable. This is on top of engineering them for comfort and design.

I ultimately went with the “Rbutus EL” because I preferred its sneaker look and liked the idea of being able to wear it more often as a day to day shoe. For colour I went bold. It comes in either a solid navy, slate, or scarlet. I went for the red as a pop of colour against the dull hues of winter. The shoes are perky and bright, and upon wearing them, I immediately noticed people looking down at my feet. Eye catching!

And best of all they are completely waterproof! Having lived in Vancouver all my life, surprisingly, this is my first pair of waterproof shoes. The “EL” at the end of the name stands for “elemental”, which is achieved through their “Damp Defender”. A “Shape-fit upper, true 4-way stretch, winterized glazing, wetness warrior, microfiber strength”. They are made for Vancouver, and Vancouver is known for its wet weather. So having waterproof footwear is an essential for any Canadian out West. For that every day rain and those in case it snows days. It doesn’t snow enough to warrant boots just for the flakey stuff, so it is nice to have sneakers that can transition you there.

And putting these on and having them hug on to my feet and toesies, I can confirm their slogan that my, “Feet still think they’re home”. These are some of the most light weight and comfortable running shoes I have ever slipped on. And it is all thanks to their specialized insole. It is like a gel bed with a rebounder. “A built-in deep gel heel cup for impact absorption in the heel strike zone, for happy ankles”. “And a springy gel to keep a natural bounce in your step, for happy walking”. They certainly have covered everything you would need in a shoe, including a “mid-arch that is crafted for smart responsive anatomical support, making for stress-free feet and euphoric legs”. And there is even an “anti-stink layer to prevent the growth of odour‑causing bacteria.”

And the best part for any consumer, is that they have a great guarantee. If you don’t feel an immediate difference and sense of what they call “foot happiness” when you wear their shoes, they want to know. They encourage ordering a couple of pairs to ensure you get the right size, then simply returning the ones that don’t fit. They will even refund you the $7 shipping difference when you do so. But, for any order over $200 the shipping fee is waved. Although if you are local like me, simply go into one of the stores that carries them and save yourself the trouble, by getting that immediate shopping gratification.

This list of where there are available within Vancouver is within the link below.
https://skyefootwear.com/apps/store-locator/

In short, if you love supporting local and love representing your city, check out SKYE foot wear for a neat treat to spoil your feet.

SKYE FOOTWEAR
https://skyefootwear.com/
#feetintheSKYE

Car2go Review

I own my own car, and am one of those drivers who likes the familiar. I know how my vehicle handles and feel the most safe behind its wheel. So up to now, I have never thought to sign up for and to use a car share program. However, when this opportunity to try “Car2go” presented itself, I thought why not try something new? And all of a sudden I found myself now with many reasons as to why a driver with their own car would subscribe to such a service and find it useful.

First, as in my case, our two vehicle household was down to one car inexplicably. So during those travel necessities, when transit just won’t do, you can borrow one of their cars. Taking a loaner without any dealership fees or even the commitment to have to keep it for the entire day. With Car2go you pay for your distance and can make your drive as short or as long as you like.

The next two reasons to use a Car2go are ones I will definitely be taking advantage of in the near future. I will be using their car share program when I want to avoid having to find parking or having to pay an arm and a leg for it. There are designated places where you can drop off your Car2go in high trafficked areas, and I have seen many signs reserving spots for their cars on popular side streets. Downtown Vancouver is the best example. You need to run some errands downtown? Grab a car, park it, forget about it. And then later grab another one by where you end up, and take it back home, parking it right outside your door even.

Another reason for me to pick up a Car2go is when I plan on a enjoy a night of drinking out. I am not recommending that you drink and drive. But instead of taking a taxi to and fro to your event, simply take a Car2go there, and save some money and time, depending where you pick it up and need to go with it.

And the best part? Here I was thinking I would be saddled with one of those mini smart cars, which isn’t the sexiest ride. But you actually get a choice of four different vehicles to fit your mood and needs. This includes an SUV and a luxury sedan. As I mentioned I enjoy driving so the drive is just as important to me as the destination. So naturally the ability to loan a Mercedes’s meets those requirements.

The only real down side, specifically for me, is that they are only operating in Vancouver now. So as a resident of Burnaby. I found myself having to take a skytrain to the nearest Car2go, which isn’t the most convenient.

To begin, the sign up process is fairly easy. You download their free app and register your information with them. This includes the standard name and address, with a credit card number for payment. You also have to take a photo of your driver’s license from the back and the front, and a selfie for verification. Then once you get your confirmation email you are ready for your first Car2go.

The rest of this post chronicles my first time. Once again I was without a car, and on this night, I had an event at Playland. Not wanting to take a series of buses, or to endure the trouble of having to search for a spot in the busy area, on an event night, I found Car2go the perfect solution.

And seeing as this night was my first drive, I wanted it special. So I used the easy to navigate app to find where the nearest Mercedes Benz loaner was and hoofed it to it. Once again, it was only extra challenging for me because of my home being in Burnaby.

You can use the filter function to select your preferred Car2go vehicle from their four options. A Smart Car for two, a newer Smart Car, the Mercedes CLA (mid size SUV) and the Mercedes GLA (four door sedan). The app even shows you what colour you could get in the latter two. But as far as I can tell it is just between white, black, and grey. The Smart Cars are branded in their trade mark white and blue piping with prominent logo. Whereas the Mercedes are marked more discretely with a smaller, thinner logo, with all their available cities listed on the driver’s side door.

In the app, you select the loaner you want by clicking on its bubble marker and then hitting the “reserve” button. You then have 30 minutes to get to it before your time expires. During this point you can change your mind and cancel your loan with a push of another button. When you are close enough to your chosen loaner you click the “rent” button. You can confirm that you are indeed by the right car by comparing the live licence plate with the one listed on your app. The ride is 45cents per minute for the Mercedes with its premium gasoline at a higher octane. Whereas you are charged 32cents per minute for your use of the Smart Cars. These are the only fees you are charged. You only pay for how long you are actually using the car. So no need to worry about monthly fees, for parking, fuel, or maintenance, like other car sharing companies have you do. So I assume they have a team checking on their fleet regularly to ensure minimal to no issue.

If you scratch or damage the car you report it to their customer service hotline. And when you begin your new rental you can see the list of previous damages, to ensure everything is accounted for, and none of it is on you. Although it is a shame that the driver’s before you don’t keep the interior in as good of a shape and there is no way to report this. My Mercedes had debris everywhere from crumbs in the cupholders to crushed leaves on the floor mats. I found this another sad point to the car sharing concept. No one owns it, so no one takes proper care of it, such a shame considering the prestige of the make of car.

But atlas, back to your Car2go loan. You have to confirm the account that your ride will be billed to, typing in your chosen PIN. And then typing in the three digit passcode, projected on the electronic screen, located on the car’s windshield. Then like magic, your car unlocks and you climb in.

The app directs you on where to find ignition key. Here, it was located in the glove compartment; in others, a special spot on the dash. You remove the key with its specialty chain and now have everything you need to begin your ride. But if you are like me, and this is your first drive, please give yourself the extra time needed to learn the layout of the car. In the Mercedes I had trouble adjusting the seat. But quickly enough, I found the toggles, and then off I went, following the car’s GPS to my intended destination.

I then dropped off the car in a residential area, for any driver to take after me. Here, you also have the option to leave the car idling, if you plan to come back shortly after for it.

After my event I opened my app and went searching for the closest Car2go, for my ride home. However my second experience late at night would be with a Smart Car, and would be less smooth. I didn’t mean for it to happen, but now I was able to test their customer service responsiveness on this first round trip.

I messed up my pin, typing the new number I had made up incorrectly, too many times, locking myself out of my account and therefore the car. I was just so sure it was what I thought it was in my mind. So to retrieve it, I typed in my password and a random number texted my chosen PIN back to me (to the number I listed in my profile). However I was now locked out and couldn’t use the car I had reserve , until I called the customer service number listed in the text. This was a call at 1am that had me on hold for 17 minutes. It was late at night, I wondered if they were even open at this time and if I was left holding for no one. All the while, standing in the cold by the car. Luckily it was in a nice enough residential area by a lamp post. However it was cold and the warmth of my enclosed car was so close, yet so far. I spent the time writing this post with the hold music on speaker phone, thinking at what point do I give up and call a cab instead?

But then a woman answered. She was sweet and enduring, and immediately apologized for my chilly wait, explaining that she was stuck on the other line with a more intricate issue, and there was just the two of them working on what should have been a slow night. Therefore, I have full confidence that if this was to happen again to me, using a Car2go during more regular hours, I would be well taken care of, and definitely in a speedier fashion.

Eventually, I got in and was able to navigate the Smart Car I had selected just fine. It has a simple park, reverse, neutral and drive shifter. And like how how I picked it up, I had to return it to anywhere within Vancouver. Seeing as I live in Burnaby, this meant dropping it off on Boundary, the cusp between the two cities, and taking the skytrain the rest of the way. Making this service the most ideal in the city.

I will definitely be using their services again, and recommending its ease to anyone who doesn’t own their own car, or needs a good option for another.

 

CAR2Go
car2go.com

Microplane, kitchen tools review

A non chef visits a showcase of kitchen tools and applies her amateur logic to the use of each one.

A good foodie loves a good kitchen gadget and I am as much of a foodie as a sharp stainless steel blade can cut. And a part of food blogging is exploring the tools you may need to prepare your own food at home; or in this case tools that would make preparing food and drinks for yourself, much easier at home.

So when I was invited to attend the “Microplane” showcase, I took the opportunity to see what I was missing out on, by having a sub adequate kitchen drawer with only a couple of utensils.

They had their entire collection of kitchen tools laid out, ready for demonstration on separate tables. And as the first and only person there right at door open, I got the whole speal all for myself.

They had peelers that you cup with any hand, and can swipe to peel from any direction. They looked like mason jar lids with serrated blades, and a punched through centre. I likened them to the wheels on luggage that you can roll in any direction.

The plastic tube was called the “veggie wedgie”. And using it with enough down force allowed you to chop softer fruits down to wedges for easy snack-ability. Basically kiwis and peaches because the fruit can’t have a pit if this is to work. And a grape would be too small and pointless.

I liked their “see an opportunity and fill the need” approach, but they lacked practicality when it came to storing all these extra and excess tools. A painstaking labour, if you don’t cook or eat at home often and have a small kitchen. Here, I started realizing that I wasn’t their core demographic and I was more suited to a showcase where ladles are shaped like the Loch Ness monster, and egg moulds allow you to fry your egg into the shape of a skull, that you can cross with bacon strips underneath.

However it didn’t stop me from continuing to enjoy all their unique and specific tools, with their single utilities. What they all had in common was how easy they were to use. Each demo was preformed with ease, like the tool for ginger below.

I was amazed that they had a tool just for ginger. It was a grate that was solely designed to shred ginger into a fine paste, but can also be used for garlic as well. Although who uses that much ginger that they would need this, i thought. Although it’s peeler on one end and blade on the other are very useful for peeling and chopping ginger, giving this a few more uses.

The three in one tool seemed like a good investment, as it is basically three different tools all in one handheld (to spell it out). But only for citrus fruit, which is especially useful at the bar when making a cocktail or two. It peels rinds into strips for garnish, it reams juice for mixing, and it also zests for flavouring. “Microplane” is noteworthy for positioning their blades in such a way that when zesting you don’t get any of the pith (the white part of the fruit, under the skin and before the flesh. It is most notably bitter.) I wish I made my own cocktails, and enough in a month to justify one.

Its companion tool was a round container that only zested rinds, but kept it all together within its covered pinch bowl holding. Once again a very specific use. This one is most beneficial on the counter of a baker.

There was also their ultimate bar tool, that only zested and peeled with the intention of decorating and accenting a cocktail in mind. Its channel knife made twists, its peeler gave you thicker cuts for flaming and peels, there was a strainer, you scored the fruit with one side of the tool, and stirred and muddled with the other.

The apple corer looked especially effortless when you don’t have to get a running start to pierce the fruit. Ideal for mothers of young children, slicing them fruit and for those who like to make apple pies.

And then there were the tools yet to be launched, with a fall release in mind.

Their herb stripper would be one of the only made from metal on the market. It comes with different gauges of holes, with larger ones that are ideal for removing leaves from stalks of kale. It also comes with a trimmer, in case you wanted to cut a little bit off and didn’t want to reach for a knife.

I found their new butter tool intriguing, living with a French Canadian who loves his butter, and learning that worst is needing some off a frozen block. This metal grating knife takes butter of the block and melts it for spreading on bread in the process.

And lastly their spice mill was large enough to fit whole nuts, and strong enough to shred them into a fine powder.

But it is their series of graters that have put them on the map, earning them the “Red dot design award”. They are the sharpest on the market using surgical stainless steel, thus making them very durable. They are packaged in such a way that you can see them for yourself, before purchasing.

So there you have it, some tools you may not have known existed and others you now know you need. All simple and easy to use, because who needs to work any harder and any more in the kitchen.

us.microplane.com

Final Fantasy Boss Cup Noodles

A friend and I splurged on some collector cup noodles by Nissin. I have already been known to drop a bill or two when it comes to food, and more so when it is a limited edition release. So it is no surprise that I would go out of my way to purchase and have shipped this cup noodle collab with my favourite RPG franchise of all time. My friend, who I went in on this with, shared my sentiment, but more so for the love of this multiple game with the same name.

This noodle branding brain child was taken from the heels of their latest, very successful Nissin ads. The adverts featured Final Fantasy XV characters holding the noodles and wearing the gear, during in game play and within a trailer, so this was a natural transition.

The collaboration was announced during the Final Fantasy 30th anniversary event. The product is an account of all the final boss characters from the original Final Fantasy through to Final Fantasy XV. 15 games, 15 bosses, and 15 cups. And it all comes in a cardboard and plastic showcase and is ready for display. It was quite the ordeal to have it shipped all the way from Japan, but worth the effort for any true fan.

However they would not stay in their plastic wrapped, collector status. As a foodie, I wanted to eat the noodles, just as much as I wanted to photograph its packaging. So the partnership was, my friend got to keep the noodles, but we would be able to try three cups of it for the video below.

To watch our recap of the unpacking and eating of our Final Fantasy cup noodles visit the link.

With every purchase of this set, fans would be able to enter a draw for an “Ultima Weapon Fork”. It is a a 60cm fork made to look like a final fantasy blade in handle and hilt, but at the other end are the four prongs to a fork. Sadly our Canadian address denied us eligibility to participate. But that would have been a keepsake for any foodie who also loves her final fantasy.

The cups in order of their boss debut is as follows:
Final Fantasy I – Chaos
Final Fantasy II – Emperor Mateus
Final Fantasy III – Cloud of Darkness
Final Fantasy IV – Zeromus
Final Fantasy V – Exdeath
Final Fantasy VI – Kefka
Final Fantasy VII – Sephiroth
Final Fantasy VIII – Ultimecia
Final Fantasy IX – Kuja (Trance)
Final Fantasy X – Seymour
Final Fantasy XI – Shadow Lord
Final Fantasy XII – Gabranth
Final Fantasy XIII – Orphan
Final Fantasy XIV – Bahamut
Final Fantasy XV – Ardyn Izunia

 

Each cup is individually wrapped in cellophane, with an easy to open pull tab at its bottom. Pulling back the “lid” reveals the message “battle start”. It sets you up as if completing the cup is to defeat the boss, and in that case we were up for the challenge. Given this little treat, I almost expected other hidden messages as I ate, other final fantasy “Easter eggs” printed on the walls of the cup or at its very bottom. Sad there was none. When you finished all that was starting back at you was the disappointment that there wasn’t any more.

Also disappointing was the fact that each cup flavour was the same. A mix of dehydrated scrambled egg, meat, shrimp, and green onions over noodle. Although still more impressive that what you get from most cup noodles. There wasn’t the need to open and shake out a sauce packet, you simply added water and waited.

The noodles were delicious and we ate the cups clean, before washing them and rewrapping them up to maintain what little collector status they had left.

Now all that is left is to wait for Nissin to repeat their success, but with our favourite final fantasy leads, or even all the Cids throughout the franchise. The possibilities are endless, but sadly my stream of money isn’t. Don’t deny your cravings.

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