Life Notes

StudioBell – The Musical Haven of History, Culture, and Art

Studio Bell

Last Saturday, I pulled my husband off the bed early morning in preparation to brave the cold weather and commute to Studio Bell. It has been on our bucket list to visit the recently opened Calgary’s musical haven and I knew deep down that my husband will enjoy it immensely being the music lover and composer that he is.

StudioBell is the new 160,000-square-foot facility built to become the first national cultural institution dedicated to celebrating and showcasing the Canadian music in all forms.

StudioBell is artistically designed for each of its 5-floors to feel interconnected, to maximize the feel of spaciousness and acoustics throughout the whole building. We could clearly hear the choir practicing from the 2nd while we were on the 4th floor. It’s that awesome.

Amazing skylight that enhances the museum’s space and light.
View from top floors
This is not for the faint of heart. But the view is amazing.

StudioBell Level 5 – Best of Canada

“Celebrate the Canadian musicians who have left their mark on this country and beyond.”

StudioBell Halls of Fame

StudioBell Idols and Icons Costumes
Stories and costume displays from great Canadian musicians – past and present – including some of their instruments and artifacts.

Idols and Icons displays

Wall of idols and icons
Wall of present and past Canadian musicians.

StudioBell Level 4 – Making Music

Even if you think you are not a musician, you are capable to make music.

I also call this the “Interactive” floor. This is where parts of the exhibit are displayed for visitors to play with.

See rare acoustic instruments and try out some instruments yourself!

There was a number of other plugged in headphones and touch screen interactive displays to teach anyone chords that translate to hit songs. Even if you don’t play an instrument, you can become a musician in no time!

The hubby learning new chords from an interactive lesson.

Hubby playing with the drums
My hubby trying his hand at being a percussion rock stor.
Roots of NMC piano display
This is one of the incredible keyboard displays from the Cantos Collection that led to the vision of creating NMC. Even with left-hand tendinitis, I was still able to play a few bars of Fur Elise. It’s a futile attempt to recapture my piano playing days but hey, I still enjoyed the moment.
Roots of NMC
One of the amazing keyboard collection in StudioBell.

Plugged in

This room is an instrument where you can see sound move. Use your hands and feet to control the tones.

This is my husband enjoying the interactive Bodyphonic experience. You stand on a marked floor symbol, raise your hands, make a fist, then move around to enjoy the sounds your body movements make.

StudioBell Level 3 – Power of Music

“Music is powerful stuff, don’t you agree?”

An exploration of distinctive Canadian voices.
Sound Affects
Remarkable showpieces are on display wherein some are played at certain times of the day.

One of the displays explaining the science behind music.

How does music move you?
This got to be my 2nd favorite part of the museum. Put on a set of headphones, listen to the music, then select a postcard on what you felt about music. Share and read experiences from other visitors.

Our thoughts about music.

The listen wall.

StudioBell Level 2 – Music Mosaic

“Have private or public concerts that can play for the entire building. The sounds are heavenly.”

Influential artists that made a unique contribution to music in Canada.

Other parts of Level 2 were the ‘Soundscapes’ and ‘Where Music Lives’.

Level 1 – Canada Music Square

“Where your musical adventure starts… and it’s worth every penny.”

The ground floor of Studio Bell houses the Drop-In Zone where you can map out your activity for the day, and the Rosso Coffee Roasters and NMC Shop, where you can grab a coffee or shop for souvenirs.

I recommend StudioBell for everyone!

You will enjoy StudioBell’s uniqueness and ingenuity to curate musical icons and treasures. It powerfully delivers messages of music’s effect through landscapes, time, and people. If for but one moment, we forget the outside world and realize how minuscule our part is in a universal story that expands through time and history without much use of words but through the abstract feeling of notes and sounds.

studiobell logo

850 4 Street SE
Calgary, AB T2G 1R1
T 403.543.5115
TF 1.800.213.9750

Food Journal

A Taste of Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant

A Taste of Saigon Restaurant, Calgary Alberta

Two pieces of crispy delicious deep-fried spring rolls. Those were my cravings last Thursday after my husband and mine’s Naturopathic In-Office Package Tests. We left the clinic way past our usual early dinner time so by the time we arrived at Royal Oak, we felt our stomachs growling in anticipation of anything to eat.

It was my husband’s suggestion to try A Taste of Saigon to try a different Vietnamese restaurant besides our usual Pho Hoa option. At first, I wanted to order soup-based dish for the cold weather but after looking at the restaurant’s menu, I opted to try something else especially after seeing the shrimp skewer option. It seems to be I’ve been having a lot of seafood cravings lately.

My first impression of A Taste of Saigon is its subdued harmony of Asian and modern feel. Although the name is glaringly Asian, the place doesn’t pose as much Asian atmosphere as what I am used to in similar restaurants. You know, the super-noisy kind you can’t always hear yourself talk. It maybe because we came at dinner time but I like how subdued the noise level is compared to other Asian restaurants.

A Taste of Saigon interiors

Large Asian (diety?) statues greet you at the entrance, pretty Asian lanterns light up the premises, and other Asian decoration completes the ensemble. The counter area displays bright contemporary shelvings where a lot of differently shaped glasses, decanter, bottles, tea steepers are displayed. There are also two large flat screen TVs wherein the sports channel was on.

As I expected from many Asian restaurants, their menu is full of options to browse through. Plus they also offer an impressive list of beverages, inclusive of wines, sakes, juices, fizz drinks, teas, slushies and more. I was highly tempted to get some alcohol but for the sake of improving my health first, I opted for some caffeine-free root beer.

Shrimp Skewers Platter
Charbroiled honey-glazed shrimp skewers with pan-friend egg on Vietnamese scented broken rice. Cucumber, tomato, lettuce, pickled carrots and sweet soy sauce.

It was first for me to consciously notice Vietnamese rice and I like it! Just the right texture and portion for the generous amount of Shrimp Skewers on my plate. I know I’ve been ranting of large restaurant portions here in Calgary compared to my homeland (not that I’m complaining but I easily get full!) but the portions in this restaurant are just right for me.

Charbroiled Lemongrass Pork Bun
Rice vermicelli, lettuce, pickled carrots, basil, bean sprouts, cucumbers, peanuts, and baked onion bits. With 2 deep-friend spring rolls.

I like Taste of Saigon for its ambiance and dishes. I also like the service although my husband and I noticed that our server didn’t seem trained enough for the job. I requested a spoon for my husband because he is not that used to using chopsticks for vermicelli. Our server just laid the spoon on the table. Didn’t plate it on top of a napkin or something. It’s a negligible error is what we thought but well, it’s common sense hygiene.

There you go, another well-discovered Asian restaurant to add to our list of casual Asian dinner dates.

A Taste of Saigon

, 8888 Country Hills Blvd NW
Calgary, AB T3G 5T4

Mon. 11:00 am-10:00 pm
Wed.-Thurs. 11:00 am-10:00 pm
Fri.-Sat. 11:00 am-11:00 pm
Sun. 11:00 am-9:30 pm

Food Journal

Roku, a Japanese Haven of Special Flavors

Roku dinner combo

As I see it, a well-seasoned traveler connotes two things. One, one had adventures in many parts of the world. Second, he or she has tried exotic cuisines akin to Andrew Zimmern’s Bizzare Foods. Travel and food. These two elements go hand-in-one in the world of many travelers. Experiencing both appears to dissipate the notion of diversity and teaches one to appreciate the uniqueness of each culture that exists in the modern world.

When I got married, I didn’t realize I would be a half of this necessary two-part cultural partnership. I don’t travel unless I’m with a group because I’m geographically challenged. Ergo, I easily get lost even with a map. And I get quickly paranoid when I get lost ALONE. I don’t have enough of that street smarts to be confident in getting lost as some travelers do. While some find getting lost and adventure, I find the experience a slow progress to paranoia.

My husband, on the other hand, has the travel bug. He has the adventurous spirit to find his way back when he gets lost. When he was 5 years old, he got separated from his family in a carnival. With possibly the best instinct a toddler could muster and the guidance of a guardian angel, he was able to safely weave his way back to the entrance of the carnival, where his family was panicking. Plus, he can plan a trip better than I ever would.

My contribution to food discovery is something to account for. I had that phase wherein I visited a new restaurant EVERY WEEK. When other girls shop for clothes, bags, and makeup, I splurge on culinary discoveries, ranging from hole-in-the-walls to starred restaurants within the metropolis. I also buy those yearly restaurant publications to plan my next culinary adventure with friends and family. If I had the saved the money I spent on food I might have traveled to many parts of Asia at that time.

I don’t have the skills to be a travel planner and my husband isn’t that much of a culinary seeker as I am. Combine the two of us and we are set to see the world in the future. That I can guarantee. ๐Ÿ˜€

At the moment, we are comfortable in seeing parts of Canada and enjoying what this Western country has to offer. With Canada dubbed as the land of the immigrants, I didn’t feel too separated from fellow Asians (even Filipinos) since I find them almost everywhere. As what you can expect, restaurants of different origins abound so it never feels that far away from home, especially when the smell of freshly cooked crispy pata, bopis, and sisg are a few minutes drive away. Oh, the joys of cholesterol! If only you weren’t so dangerous to health.

For a number of times I’ve been telling my husband I want to dine again in Roku, a Japanese restaurant in Royal Oak Park Shopping Centre. But my husband lives with this principle that when he has tried something, he wants to check out something else. So my request gets turned down but I don’t get disappointed as much when we dine at a new restaurant and try new food.

To my delight last Monday, my husband suggested we dine at Roku for my birthday! It’s a wish come true!

Roku Japanese Restaurant

Roku prides itself on putting extra care into their daily specials and classic sushi and sashimi menu. With chefs and staff composed mostly of Japanese, the authenticity and devotion in creating the best Japanese cuisine are felt from the memorable textures and flavors of dishes, and the charm of Japanese service.

the interiors of Roku

The atmosphere of the restaurant is distinctively Japanese with a natural minimalist approach of wood colors, subtle accents from zen-like vertical paintings and apt instrumental music flowing out of unseen speakers. Being the first customers of the dinner shift, we were able to sit by the window and got a good view of the whole restaurant.

Similar to what we ordered the first time we sat in this fine establishment, we ordered a dinner combo called ‘Okami no Dinner’, which composed of the following:

Roku's Agedashi Tofu
Agedashi Tofu
Deep Fried Tofu in Bonito-Soy Broth
This perfection of coagulated soy milk, deep fried until golden-brown on both sides with smooth texture within is a must to have.
Chicken Karaage
Chicken Karaage
This is the Japanese version of fried chicken is first marinated in ginger, garlic and soy sauce, and then coated in potato starch before being fried.
Roku's appetizer
I forgot what this was but it did consist of burdock.
Roku's Assorted Tempuras
Assorted Tempura
2 Prawns, 3 Veggies
Roku's Ebi Tempura
Ebi Tempura
Every time we eat at a Japanese resturant, this is a staple of ours.
Roku's Sushi & Sashimi Plate
Sushi & Sashimi Platter
A generous serving of sushi and sashimi.
Ike-Chan Pudding Cream, Caramel
Ike-Chan Pudding
Cream, Caramel
Think of this as the Filipino’s version of Leche flan. Crรจme caramel, flan, or caramel pudding: a custard dessert with a layer of soft caramel on top, garnished with whipped cream and fruit.
Roku's Yuri-Chan Tiramisu
Yuri-Chan Tiramisu
Now THIS is the reason why I always wanted to come back to Roku. This got to be the tastiest Tiramisu I’ve ever tasted. Roku’s Tiramisu version is very delicate, smooth and velvety in texture. Served in a small cup and a subtle hint of alcohol, this dessert packs a punch from its harmonious blend of bitter and sweet flavors. It’s a MUST to have.

And I’d like to share what our meal looked like the first time we dined at Roku last month.

Musume No Dinner
2 Kinds of Daily Special Appetizer
SUSHI PLATE (4 Nigiri and 1/2 Rolls)
roku appetizers
Agedashi Tofu, Ingen no Gomae (Green Beans with Sesame Mayo Sauce), and Gyu Tataki (Sliced rare done beef with special ponzu sauce).

Please note that all dinner combos come with the intention of feeding only one person, thus there are only small servings of appetizers and it comes with one rice and miso soup. My hubby and I still haven’t adapted to the serving portions of restaurants here in Canada so we opted to heed our small stomach capacity and share one dinner combo with extra rice and miso soup. We made the right decision. No leftovers to take home!

This birthday dinner really made me very happy. So will I harp my husband again to go back to Roku? Of course, I will! As long as they retain their Japanese charm and their flavorful menu… and continue to make that heavenly Tiramisu, I’m a Roku fan!

Roku Japanese Restaurant

7127, 8650 โ€“ 112 Avenue NW Calgary AB, T3R 0R5
LUNCH 11:30AM โ€“ 2:00PM . DINNER 4:30PM โ€“ 9:00PM
(Final orders accepted 10 minutes before closing)

Food Journal

It’s Like Going ‘Back to the Future’ with Delicious Omelette Waiting for You

galaxie diner interior

This is the first of a series of post I promised I will be posting regarding the places my husband and I ate in prior and after moving to our new home. Whereas dining out isn’t a requisite in exploring an area, it is one of our motivating factors to blend into a community.

Prior to moving from Downtown, there was this one diner that catches our attention during our random weekend walks because of the line of people we see outside its doors. Whenever we felt the urge to finally try the place out, we end up perturbed by the line of people outside.

Until one Sunday morning, we decided to go straight to Galaxie Diner after our morning mass. We arrived there before 8:30 am and just our luck, we were one of the first people in! Finally! It was a good decision too because the place filled up a few minutes after we were seated.

Expect nothing fancy in the decor or the layout of the diner, but be transported into the time of jukeboxes, retro posters, and overall iconic casual American dinner. In retrospect, I was also reminded of Luke’s Diner from my favorite show, Gilmore Girls. Shelf-filled walls, open kitchen, and comfortable tables make this a perfect place to go to everyday for personable chit-chat, good food, and a conducive family and community ambiance for anyone wanting to relax in homey comfort.

galaxi diner jukebox
galaxie diner posters

What I like about diners is how flexible their menu can be. My husband and I love eggs. If there aren’t any health issues regarding eating eggs day, noon, and night every single day, we might do just that. Since we want to live long lives, we do try to keep everything we eat into moderation. We hadn’t had any breakfast that day, so our eyes immediately flew to “Omelette of Choice”, where you can order ANY number of fillings for the same price. Check out the options below.

galaxie diner menu

My husband had his omelette consist of a lot of meat. I find it amusing how a lot of guys seem to have this staple for adding a lot of meat on dishes they have control to customize like in this case, omelettes, and notably, pizzas.

omelette with meat filling

Hubby’s omelette had bacon, ham, Montreal smoked meat and beef sausage. Everything was oh-so-good meaty goodness that is unforgettable.

omelette with vegetables

My omelette had cheese, bacon, sauteed mushrooms, onions, green onions, tomatoes, and sour cream.

Both of our omelettes come with hash browns and toast.

And might I say this level of omelette personalization, quantity, and friendly service brought Sunday smiles that day. If you ever drop by Downtown Calgary and seeking for a place to dine in, I recommend Galaxie Diner. You just have to be really early for breakfast, though. That’s how famous they are. They also adhere to this strict rule that if you ever come with a group, everyone must be present before they seat you. Just a heads up.

Galaxie Diner

1413 11 St SW,
AB T2R 1G7

Food Journal

Buh Bye City Girl… Hello Suburbs

It has been awhile when I posted something on this blog. Yes, another long hiatus. A lot of stuff happened that lead to dry skin, stressed out bones, and bouts of minor migraines, but I survived all that since a dream milestone was achieved by my husband and I.

We got ourselves our own home.

2016 citadel home

It isn’t anything grand but it’s the right size and comfort for a starter family. It has been a month since we moved from Downtown Calgary and we’re enjoying the quiet, suburban way of living.

Of course, I couldn’t just let go of thoughts I wished I were still living in Downtown, where everything is a stone’s throw away for convenience. I needed something for dinner, I just cross the street to buy at the grocery. I needed some work supplies, Staples is a few blocks away. I have a craving for shopping, the Mall is walking distance, or I could take the free train. Muscle pains? My favorite Osteopathy center is nearby. Wine? Well, I could skip in glee for its near distance. Now, a car is necessary to get anywhere or you could wait for a long time for the bus.

It is possible my upbringing contributed to my city living urges. All my life, I lived in a city. Back in my homeland, I lived near Makati’s Central Business District (CBD), which encompasses high-rise buildings, multitudes of malls, traffic-driven streets, noise and smoke pollution, you name it Makati has it. It’s the perfect example of metropolitan way of living. Noise, lights, parties, gossiping neighbors, annoying midnight karaokes, street dogs and cats, garage sales here and there, etc. And yet it is a place I call home.

Then I flew to Calgary and I settled into Downtown. Though it is considered the “city” and business zone of the province, it holds a slow-paced atmosphere compared to the metropolitan lifestyle of cities like Makati (Philippines), or Toronto (Canada).

But the one thing I truly miss in Downtown living are the restaurants that are in every nook and corner. Japanese, Indian, Greek, Lebanese, Thai, Latin, you name they got it. The Downtown lives up to the Canadian definition of being “the country of immigrants”. Regardless of where you came from, there is a 90% chance you will find a place to eat that will remind you of home.

So two weeks prior to moving, my husband and I decided we will try restaurants we haven’t eaten in. It felt like a “despedida” to the place we lived in together for the first few years as a married couple. It is the place where we learned to adapt to each other’s personality, where we started working for our dreams, where we experienced things we didn’t get to experience in our homeland.

Fast forward to a month, I’m now blogging in an all-white painted masters bedroom while my husband is awaiting a Skype call in our work room. Watching the tree sway outside the master’s bedroom window, I feel content with the quiet atmosphere our current community has. Trees line the cul-de-sac, rabbits abound almost everywhere and settles under our tree almost every other day, the neighbors are friendly, and the only possible noise you might get annoyed from is the sound of somebody mowing the lawn. All in all, it’s pretty nice.

The only downside would be that restaurants aren’t as near as I would like them to be. But hey, nobody has it all right? Recently, my husband and I decided that one of the best ways to get acquainted with our new community is to weekly try a new place to eat. As of date, we have been to several restaurants, which I am going to share in another blog post. What can I say, for me, food is a motivating factor in exploring a place.

Well, that’s all for now. Await my next posts on restaurants we’ve been to prior and after moving to our new home. Cheers!

Food Journal

Simple Magical Breakfasts are Worth the Effort

A coloful weekend breakfast.

A photo posted by Chedie Cruz (@chedie) on

I wake up very early, groggy and disconcerted to prepare breakfast and my husband’s lunchbox every weekday. I don’t mind waking up early but I bet anybody, who prepares the household’s food, wish they could have a cook to do all that cooking in the early morning. It’s something that could pass as a pleasant experience or a chore, depending on how tired you were the day before.

I don’t mind cooking but I do love those weekend moments when you wake up feeling mysteriously refreshed and you feel the urge to prepare breakfast fit for a king. That was how I felt this morning. I wasn’t craving for anything extravagant. In fact, I went out to buy Breakfast Panini from Good Earth, a couple of sweets from Co-op, and well, catch some Pokemon along the way.

Yes, ladies and gents, I’m a Pokemon Go player. I don’t get to play much outside since I don’t have unlimited bandwidth but I do enjoy getting those freebies via Pokestops. So if a Pokemon tends to spawn nearby, I might as well catch them, right?

Going back to the subjects at hand, breakfasts are like a ritual to me. When lunch and dinner can be as simple or extravagant, taken early or late, breakfasts are a MUST to partake. They’re what I deem as day energizers. They must be taken as freshly cooked or prepared as you can because their ‘freshness’ is short-lived, making their gastronomic experience less appreciated that it somehow affects how the rest of your day will pan out. It’s like breakfasts hold a magical concoction to make or break the beginning of a new day.

Thus, when I feel creating some form of presentation for my weekend breakfast, I really love it when my husband or somebody else appreciates my efforts. Otherwise, I just lose the initiative to make an effort for the same person, which happened too many times in the past. My cooking will never be at par with grandiose breakfasts like the Zillion Dollar Lobster Fritatta (costs $1000), or the Krispy Kreme Doughnut (costs $1685), but I think any efforts are worth the merit. It’s the love that counts, right?

The picture on this post consists of Breakfast Panini from Good Earth, a couple of colorful, delicate Macaroons from Ollia, flavored bread sticks from Pocky, and decaf Coffee.

Cheers to more breakfast magic ahead!