Two years ago, I serendipitously stumbled into what would become one of my favorite places to visit, whenever I'm in Calgary, L'Epicerie.  Located off of 1st, between 13th and 14th ave, is this quaint, unassuming and absolutely charming French deli.

Life's adventures can often make me feel as if I've warped through months, in a matter of a few days. So when it comes to travel, eating and conversations with friends, I especially like to linger onto every moment and forget about time and deadlines.

Yesterday, stepping into L'Epicerie, was like catching up with an old friend.  The familiarity from the scents of fresh baguette and espresso,  the excitement of new tastes and the exuberant exchange of smiles and greetings with Chef Ryan on how quickly two years has gone by.

I ordered some of the old favorite items from my last visit and Chef Ryan let us try some of the new. Everything... EVERYTHING was so good.

My favorites and photographed above
(Items below are cured and created in house)
The Salmon Gravlax
Pâté Pork with Pistache
Duck Rillettes
Butternut squash soup
Duck Foie-gras Terrine
Black Olive Tapenade
Tarte aux Pommes (Apple Tart)

and of course.. espresso and salami.

I'm sad that my time in Calgary is so short,  but next up is Vancouver (which I haven't seen in many years), then San Francisco for Google IO.

à bientôt Edmonton and Calgary, ❤ till next time when we eat again.

Read about my first experience at L'Epicerie

With each aging year, I get this paranoia that at some point, there's a singular moment of transition, where I'll officially become mature, and begin to resemble this embodiment of what an "adult" is supposed to be.  That at some point, it'll be no longer be acceptable to wear Dragon Ball Z shirts, collect action figures and have a drink at 8am.

That paranoia eventually subsides, especially when I'm among friends who are not only older and wiser than me, but are also effortlessly cool and free spirited.

For me, the significance of my birthday, is a mere excuse to interrupt the busy lives of family and friends, to gather, eat, share stories and laugh.

So, as I sip on my second Irish Coffee, for breakfast, in no particular order.. here are 34 thoughts now that I'm 34.  (HOW AWESOME is it that the Buena Vista is now at SFO?)

34.  People meandering through airports are much more polite and considerate than once they're on the plane.
33. 90% of my travel plans, meeting with people plans and life plans surround the consumption of food
32. I've seen  the quality of my work, both in photography and design, increase immensely, purely because I had good people willing to tell me when my stuff was pure shit.
31.  The older I get, the more I realize that a lot of the good stuff about me, came from my mom.
30. I still find it weird, how crazy people go over free stuff.
29. I should hand write letters to my friends more (sorry friends)
28. Every so often, I get awkward rude awakenings of my mortality, and express to my friends my fear of death.. sometimes over a dessert or after a movie.
27. I can't believe how incredible some of the people in my life are, and the equally incredible life experiences they have had.
26. I know I'm not old.  But I swear I'm being honest when I say my hip and knee hurts :P
25. My mom was right, I don't enjoy clubbing anymore.
24.  I still love electronica music and I probably do listen to my music too loud.
23. Social media is amazing, our phones are amazing, tech is amazing.
22. I miss working on my own car.
21. I'm thankful to have learned how to travel light.  3 weeks w/ a carryon, beats lugging around a giant luggage.
20. Learning to love and trust was a lot harder than I thought it would be.
19.  Sticking to my guns on what I wanted to do in life, truly paid off.  I've met the most awesome people.
18. I thought fixing my deviated septum would fix my snorting and snoring.. it didn't.
17. I never thought I'd love squats almost as much as I love deadlifts.
16. There are very few things in life, that being strong doesn't fix.
15.  A lot of what I love about lifting, is a metaphor for life struggles.  Doing something, that was thought to be undoable before.
14.  When I write about food, It's usually less about the food and more about the stories behind the people that eat it and the people that make it.
13. To me.. success isn't how much money you make, it's the freedom to love what you do and do it out of choice.
12. Popcorn and bubble tea are still my favorite foods.
11. It's a beautiful life, and none of us make it out alive.
10. I feel really fortunate to have parents and step parents, that love me the way they do, and all to have taken part in raising me.
9. Loving somebody is the most exhilarating and also frightening thing.
8. This is my first time traveling with my American passport
7. I will vote.
6. Every year, including this year, my goals are to eat new things, travel to new places and see more things.
5. I summit my first mountain this year. It was small in comparison to many, but to me, it was monumental.
4. Waking up at 7am is too early.
3. Most hate it, but I love seeing people in love.
2. On to the connecting flight, and am glad for this moment of reflection.
1. Someone told me, that so many of the great things in life, happen because we said yes to something.  (get your mind out of the gutter :P ).

To everyone that took even a second out of their day to wish me a happy birthday, thank you so much! It really does mean the world.

My whole world changed because of one piece of pizza. What really changed my life was the person that I got to talk to who made that, [and] what their life surmounted to. ~ Alton Brown 

A few sunny Sundays ago, I was invited here for brunch and you would never know from the outside, how warm and inviting Buffalo Public House is, the family history in the restaurant art and name, and how comforting the food is.  

We got to spend the morning with Henrique, Norah and their son Henry (quite possibly the most charming, charismatic and adorable baby ever), to learn about the origins of their restaurant theme, the Brazilian influences on their menu flavors and to see how magic happens in the kitchen. 

Throughout the restaurant and halls, you'll see photos and paintings of buffalo, which are in homage to their family's buffalo farm back home.

We had quite the array of food that morning, but I absolutely loved the fried chicken, the coconut pancakes, the french toast and their beer cocktails, specifically the Three Philosophers Ale with ginger beer and bitters.  

Another pleasant surprise was reuniting with of my favorite servers, from a previous restaurant, who changed my life on two occasions, with a slice of cake and a salmon bacon panini sandwich.  

That's the thing with food, it "is a switchboard, and it connects people unlike anything" else.

Thank you again to Henrique, Norah and especially baby Henry, I'll see you again soon! 

There are 3 events in Hillcrest that I look forward to every year, Taste of Hillcrest, CityFest and Pride.  This year, Taste of Hillcrest definitely did not disappoint.  With a variety of signature eats for every taste palette, music and drinks, many of the restaurants really made an effort to provide a great experience.  A few even deferred their regular hours, to cater to all of the participants.  

It was hard to make it to every participating business on the list, as the event was quite widespread.  I also wish that the website had better information on each business, to feature their specialties and so that we could have have had a better idea about the genre of food, ahead of time.

Of the places I did get to make it to, here are some of my highlights from Taste of Hillcrest

Really embodied the spirit of the event.  They were one of the few that deferred their business hours, so that people could sit down, try a variety of bites and get a well rounded experience of the restaurant.  Everyone got a generous bowl of ramen with pork belly and an appetizer sampling which included Takoyaki, a potsticker and a piece of chicken karaage.

Juice Crafters
The people here were so friendly, and the smoothie they served up was tasty and refreshing, especially on that warm summer day.  I also love the decor of the juice bar and the abundant menu selection.

Tandoori Hut
They served fresh baked naan bread with savory curry over rice.  The owners and workers made conversation with everyone and it was awesome that they had $1.49 beer specials.

Buffalo Public House
The line for this place was constantly out the door. They had this unassuming fried chicken ball, that was surprising in flavor and came with chimichurri and spicy sauces, that I wanted to take home to spoon onto everything! We ordered a couple of my favorite drinks and I'll be writing more about them in another blog, but this place really has a great brunch and bar menu.  Oh and make sure you say hi to baby Henry (he has so much personality and I can't get enough of his smiling face)

The wings were tasty but honestly, I just love this place because they really know how to throw a party.  They're always one of my favorites to stop by during Hillcrest events, because the people are fun, the music is awesome and we always have a good time.

Fiesta Cantina
After getting our dance on with the bar tender at Mo's, we headed to Fiesta Cantina to continue the party by toasting with margaritas.  They're also one of the few places in Hillcrest that show pay per view fights, and don't charge a cover.

Empire House
The delightful fresh surprise. The salad with apple and pecans was just what was needed.

This neighborhood is so electric, exciting and special in so many ways and it's truly the unique businesses and the culture of the community that makes it all come together.

Upcoming this year, SD pride July 18-19 and CityFest August 10