For the first time in 7 years, I managed to escape the cold of winter. For the first time in 7 years, I won’t be worrying about my plans for Christmas. For the first time in 7 years, I’ll actually be seeing my family during the holiday season. And yet, I can’t help but feel unsettled and just a little out of place.
If you’ve been following Sweet Samsations, you would have read countless rants regarding my moves. I have moved twice this year, and both moves have been within the same proximity. This time though, I threw my hands up to fate as I moved across continents. After 7 years in Vancouver, I finally moved back to Singapore, my home country; which would explain my short absence in blogging.
At the back of my mind, I knew I would some day eventually move back to Asia. But unbeknownst to the conscious and rational areas of my brain, I never imagined myself to have grown so attached to my lifestyle in Vancouver. We’re all creatures of habits and it is only natural that we have become so comfortable and accustomed to our daily routines.
There’s so many things I already miss about Vancouver; my daily yoga routine, the wide and global restaurant selection, the fresh minty air, the friendliness, my absolute freedom, the nightlife, my multiple jobs, my coworkers, my friends, my kitchen, the grocery stores and all my pantry…. I’d have to say though, that the hardest thing about leaving Vancouver is undoubtedly to leave the people behind. In this short 7 years, I’ve made the best friends one can ever have. Besides my dear sister, I have been without family in Vancouver and my best friends filled that void. They’re most amazing and precious, and they’ve become family.
Currently, I’m being thrown into one big fit of nostalgia as I adjust to life in Asia. What can I say? Life often hands you curve balls and you just gotta deal with it. It will take some time, and hopefully I can happily embrace the changes, be it positive or negative. As much as we may be creatures of habits, we can still be adaptable to changes. 7 years ago, I never wanted to leave my nest in Singapore. Looking back now, coming out of my comfort zone was the best life decision I had ever made.
Up to this point, my heart is still left behind in Vancouver. It’s been deeply etched in some imaginary Canadian root. I find myself emotionally eating the idea of returning there and once again continuing to enjoy beautiful British Columbia. Well, speaking of eating and good restaurants, let’s take a look at one of Vancouver’s diners “Neighbours”.
I’ve been meaning to visit this diner since it was conveniently located just minutes away from my house. When I saw another episode of “You Gotta Eat Here” hosted by John Cattuci, I was convinced that I had to eat there. It instantly found its place on my bucket list of “Things to Do Before Leaving Vancouver”.
So, a little bit about life in Vancouver and why I haven’t had too much time to blog. Here is a typical weekday schedule of mine
4.20am – Rise and Shine!
5:30am – Work 1st job
11.45am – Rush to yoga
12pm – Yoga Class
1.30pm – Short nap and shower
2.15pm – Gym time
2.45pm – Rush to 2nd job
3.30pm – Work 2nd job
8.15pm – Go home
8.40pm – Unwind / prepare my 4 outfits for the next day / prepare food for the next day / read a little / blog if I can / edit pictures / wash up / everything and anything else I can squeeze in here
10.30pm – Sleep
So yes, I typically wake up at 4.30am in the morning and so I prefer having my meals earlier as opposed to those late night dinners. Anyway, my girlfriend and I walked into Neighbour’s at a time where most people would consider odd – 4pm. Needless to say, it was relatively empty. The servers immediately greeted us with affection and gave a basic profile of the menu. I already knew I was getting their Spanakopita! As much as I was tempted to share the Roast Lamb or Pizza with girlfriend, I knew that she was not a fan of laaaaaambs, nor was she in the mood for pizza. We instead settled for their Chicken Parmesan, which was also highly recommended by our server.
The Chicken Parmesan came with a free salad. I’m not going to comment on the salad, because honestly they all taste the same to me and I hate salad. LOL. Yes, you heard me right! 😉
Spanakopita came next! It was pretty delicious! I could definitely taste dill in it! And boy, that feta cheese was just oozing in my mouth.
Chicken Parmesan was really amazing. We had ours with our choice of pasta instead of rice / potatoes. The pasta was great! Girlfriend and I cleaned up the plate in no time. I gotta say though, I was feeling excruciatingly dehydrated and thirsty after the meal. Another girlfriend said she thought it was kinda salty.
All in all, it was a great experience! I’ll definitely have to go back for the lamb and pizza some day
So anyway, of course I HAD to replicate the Spanakopita at home when I found the recipe generously provided by the owner on The Food Network.
makes 50 pieces. Recipe courtesy of Niki Tsoukas of Neighbours.
- 3 pounds (about 3-4 bunches) of fresh spinach, rinsed, chopped and strained well
- 2 bunches fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 2 bunches fresh dill, finely chopped
- 2 red onions, finely chopped
- 1 small bunch of green onion
- 1 1/2 tablespoons pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 16 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (add more if preferred)
- 3 eggs lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 1 pound phyllo pastry
- In a large mixing bowl add spinach, parsley, dill, onions, pepper, salt and feta. Use hands and mix together.
- Add eggs and mix well.
- Unwrap phyllo carefully, and use a sharp knife to cut into strips 5 inches wide. (I cut mine into half)
- To prevent the phyllo from drying out quickly I took out about 1/4 portion at a time as I worked on them.
- For each strip, brush half of the surface with oil, then fold it in half. (As opposed to cutting each strip into 2 1/2 inch and layering them on top of the other, I found this way to be more efficient.)
- Now brush the folded surface with oil and add 1 heaping tablespoon of filling 1-inch from the end closest to you.
- Fold the bottom right corner over the filling to the left edge to form a triangle.
- Fold the triangle up, bringing the point at the bottom left to rest along the left edge.
- Turn the lower left corner over to touch the right.
- Continue turning the triangle over in this manner until you reach the end of the phyllo.
- Repeat folding steps until you have desired number of spanakopitas (you can save extra filling in the fridge for up to three days).
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Poke 3-4 holes in each spanakopita to allow air to release, (I skipped this step) and lightly brush the tops with oil.
- Bake for approximately 30 minutes.Note: best served with Tzatziki for dipping.
Alternatively, you can also instead make 2 big pans of Spanakopitas. For each pan, layer 6 phyllo pastry followed by half portion of the filling and another 6 phyllo pastry, brushing each layer with oil. Increase baking time to 50minutes – 1 hour.
Yum yums! It tasted almost exactly like the one I had at the restaurant except that the taste of the dill wasn’t as strong. Personally I much preferred the individual pieces as compared to the large pan variation, although obviously making the pan took a much shorter time.
Anyway, my dear friends! I’m sure you noticed my new blog layout. I figured it would be a new beginning and change for Sweet Samsations. Enjoy! 🙂
To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often! – Winston Churchill
37 Comments Add yours
Sammie! What a huge change for you! I have to say nothing beats being near family, but I can understand missing what you grew accustomed to. You are quite an amazing lady and will thrive no matter where you are. The Spanakopita looks delicious! Making these!!
Wow you have been busy my friend! Thanks for visiting with this beautiful spanakopita recipe though it looks perfect!
Choc Chip Uru
P.S Liked you on Facebook 🙂
Hey Sammi, there are a billion things I instantly think of and love in Singapore too! When I visited a couple of years ago, I loved hanging out at Newton’s Circuit till 2am with friends (laughing, eating, drinking etc!) running around like a pork chop at the night safari/zoo and orchard rd and Muji!!! You’ve obviously had an amazing journey in Vancouver, no doubt you’re going to miss your old life there. Life is just asking you to set time aside to make some new memories in Singapore. Then you’ll have an amazing choice of all the further possibilities! Good luck 🙂
Happy Adjustment! I hope you love being back and eating all the glorious things Singapore has to offer 🙂
I think it is always a million times harder moving back home after living abroad. Give your self some time, and you might find the things you used to enjoy in Singapore have changed as you have changed. I have not yet visited Singapore and HK is fun for a weekend so maybe our paths might cross. Spanakopita looks gorgeous! So light and delicate!
I can see why it was free…however, for your spanakopita, how much do you want—-they look freaking amazing!
Hey, Sam!! Your blog looks great!! Glad you found a minute to fill us all in. Spanakopita is one of my all-time favorite dishes EVER. Maybe it’s my love of spinach? Maybe it’s my Greek roots? Whatever. I love it. And I’m gonna give your recipe a go!
I love your new look Sammie…and the spanakopita looks great…so far I have been buying frozen…one of this days I will need to give this a try.
Have a great week and congratulations on your new look!
One of my favorite Greek recipes!
I’m always a tiny bit intimidated with filo, but have some in my freezer for just the right recipe. I have to try your recipe!!
hope you’re settling into singapore just fine! and the Spanakopita looks delicious – definitely something that is harder to get here in singapore ;p
I hope the move back to Singapore is a good one for you! Love the new look Sam 🙂
I can imagine that it’s a bittersweet move Sammie and best of luck with it! And isn’t it nice that the owner has given out the recipe for the spanakopita! 🙂
Thanks Uru! So have you!! Yeah, this time of the year seems like the busiest for all of us! 🙂
Awww! Thanks so much Alice! So sweet of you to lend such support. Yeah, sometimes it’s good to move out of our comfort zone. We never know what new adventures we may encounter unless we try! Singapore is a lovely city and hopefully I’ll grow to love it even more.
Thank you!! Yes! I’m definitely getting my fix of Southeast Asian food! There wasn’t too much of that over in Vancouver!
Awww!! Thanks Bam! You’re quite right. Singapore is so different from what I remembered her to be. It seems so foreign to me now! I’ll have so much getting used to and hopefully I’ll be able to adjust quickly. I’m sure that when I find a job and start connecting back with my friends from before, as well as making a new circle of friends, I’ll start getting used to life back home. haha.. Yeah! Sgp and HK are indeed pretty close by!! 😉 Thanks Bam!
LOL! Thank you my dear!! 😀
oooh! Did not know you had a Greek heritage! Yes! I love spanakopita cos of the spinach + dill + cheese and delicious flakiness! haha.. And not to mention the oil too. lol
Thanks Juliana!! I hope you do! It’s actually a lot easier than I thought! And it’s my first time fiddling with phyllo pastry too! hahaha..
haha it’s now one of mine too! 🙂
I’ve heard Singapore is a truly wonderful place to visit/live, full of lots of amazing food. I hope to visit one day! And your spanakopita sounds soooo delicious. YUM!
Change is always difficult whether it’s a good change or a bad change…I’m sure it’s wonderful to be around more family! Thanks for the yummy spanakopita recipe…it’s been years since I’ve made this!
I too like your new look.
After adjusting to the culture in the west it will take a little while to readjust to the culture of the east. I am sure you will readjust in no time.
This is one of my favorite Greek foods.
Thanks so much Sandra! Yeah! Ive been seeing a lot of family right now and it feels so nice to be taken care of again! I almost forgot what that felt like! I hope you do make them my dear! Lemme know how they turn out if you do!
Thats looks so crispy delicious!
Oh my gosh you’re so busy! And you moved! Either way your spanakopita looks delish and you’ll get readjusted soon!
I LOVE your new blog design, Sammie and I love your spanakopita! I made it once and it was delightful! Now I want to make it again instead of waiting for the next Greek carnival (the Greek pastries, sweet and savory, are always the best at the Greek church carnivals) 🙂
Wow! I have a 3 month old and I dont even wake up at 430am! I dont know how you do it all! Moving cross continents is a big move and after adjusting to life in your new home I can imagine how hard it is to reverse. I moved to Israel from NY a few years back and will be moving back to NY in July and am already missing parts of my life here.
Aww girl I always find drastic changes to be hard but I’m sure things will get better. In the meantime it seems that you’re eating well! This spanakopita looks awesome!
OMG, you get up at 4:20 a.m.? I’d be a true zombie at that hour. I give you all the credit for making the most of each and every hour like that. Wishing you a fantastic 2013! Happy New Year!
Yum! I am going to do this.
Thanks for a wonderful recipe!
Flaky spinach pie is pretty hard to resist. I think Popeye’s not the only person who would go wild for these. 😉
Being Greek, spanakopita was one of the things I grew up with. I loved it then and I love it now. I make it quite often at home opening my own phylo. Your little spanakopita triangles look terrific!