Sandrine French Pastry & Chocolate (Kelowna)

I know, it’s been a while since I’ve posted and there are a number of reasons that I won’t bore you with in this post. For now, I’ll dive back into some reviews!

I have nothing but spectacular reviews about Sandrine’s shop so let’s start with the important accessibility things of note:

  • It’s located in a strip mall so there is dedicated parking with marked disability parking right near the entrance.
  • There is a wide ramp leading right into the shop.
  • There isn’t anywhere to sit down inside but this isn’t a restaurant. It’s where you come to buy treats to take home (or to eat in the car on the way home–no judgement).
  • The shop is small but is also laid out in such a way that there is plenty of room for someone who is getting around in a wheelchair, with a walker, or with some other mobility device.

Sandrine (the shop is named after the owner, who can often be found working there) does offer savoury items such as Pâté, Tourtière, small batch Cassoulet, and more, but I haven’t tried any of those items so I can’t speak to their deliciousness (judging by the mastery of their sweet items, I can’t think of any reason that they don’t put as much care into all of their offerings).

I have tried a couple different varieties of their croissants and, in my opinion, they are the best that Kelowna has to offer!

There are some gorgeous desserts and I’ve tried a few of those and they taste as good as they look but the star of the show, for me, is their macarons! I’ve probably tried every flavour they make but since I’m making a great effort to eat more healthily I now focus on just my favourite goodies when I want to indulge and, for me, that is the lavender macaron with chocolate filling. I wish I could insert the sound of angels singing and the heavens opening up as I present to you this little magical cookie sandwich.

The outside has a slight crackle to it and the floral flavour pleases the senses. Then there is the rich, smooth, chocolately filling.  It’s a winning combination of textures and flavours and if you’ve ever wondered what to bring me (or someone else) as a hostess gift,  macarons make such a pretty little gift (they will put them in a pretty gift box, if you like).

Sandrine’s is not where you want to go for the cheapest treats but it is definitely where you want to go for the treats of the highest quality. They are a pleasure to the senses and they are worth every cent.

Here is a link to Sandrine’s website where you can see some tantalizing photos and learn about more of her offerings including cooking classes:

What’s your favourite flavour of macaron? Leave a comment and let me know!


Checking Our Blind Spots

Warning: there will be swearing.

A few weeks ago I was driving along listening to a song by The Waifs (shout out to my sister, Jenny, who introduced me to them…I love you! <3) called Fisherman’s Daughter, that I’ve been listening to for about a year now.  I only recently realised that I’d been misinterpreting one of the lines. It’s not that I didn’t understand the words because I did, but I didn’t interpret them correctly because you don’t know something until you know it (until it’s on your radar).

The line in question goes “I’m living in the left-hand lane of my city” and then goes on to say “slow down so I can walk this highway with you, slow down, let me walk it with you”. In my head, the singer is saying she lives in the fast-lane but she’s suggesting that her and this person she’s interested in should slow down together. Then, BAM, it dawned on me after a whole year that the left-hand lane IS the slow lane because The Waifs are from Australia. She’s asking the person she is interested in to slow down and join her. She’s asking someone else to change rather than suggesting that they both make a change together. It’s maybe a subtle difference, but it’s a big difference in terms of how one goes into a relationship and it made me laugh out loud in the car to realise that I’ve been misinterpreting the lyrics of this song because I hadn’t recognised the context in which they exist! Context, or lack of it, creates all kinds of blind spots and I want to explore that in terms of some recent experiences I’ve had.

To back up just a wee bit, I haven’t been posting much lately for a couple of reasons. The first is that the Okanagan has been severely affected by the fires and smoke in the region (and the entire province) so being outdoors is ill-advised, especially while I’m overcoming a cold that has settled into my chest and I’m trying to remain well enough for a surgery that is scheduled  for next week. The other reason is that I’ve been dealing with some medical trips that have been a long time in the making. I don’t feel like going into all the details right now but it has meant a lot of travelling, completing various tests, and attending appointments with a number of health professionals.

The trips have involved visits to two hospitals and it’s those experiences I want to share. The first trip was to Richmond General Hospital and the second was to the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria (if you’re reading from anywhere outside of Canada, both hospitals are located in southern British Columbia). I want to write about something I noticed in both of those hospitals, but also about things that go unnoticed when we’re not checking for context.

If you’ve read any of my review posts you probably know by now that I’m fat, I’m wide in the hips,  and that chairs with arms are often a source of dread and pain for me and for plenty of other fat people. When the arms of the chair are not wide enough the effects can range from moderate discomfort to severe pain/numbness resulting in bruises from where the chair digs into my hips or thighs. When you’re already dealing with mobility and pain issues from a chronic illness, standing for the long periods of time that one sometimes has to wait in a medical facility (or just about anywhere) is not an option, either. So, pain is the constant companion that reminds me that sitting and standing both suck in a way that leave me struggling to come to terms with the fact that, in its current state, my body is disabled.

If you can relate to any of that, or even if you’re just able to empathise about it, you’ll have some inkling of the joy I felt when I realised that at every different waiting area (Imaging, Pharmacy, Diagnostics, etc.) of both hospitals there was a wide seating option! It made me feel hopeful. It made me feel welcome, maybe even accepted and that meant a whole lot, especially because I was already feeling unwell and nervous about the medical testing. Seeing seating that was actually meant for me and other people like me made me feel like a fucking human being. What a concept.

My new-found hopes were quickly dashed when I realised that the wide chair in the area where I needed to wait was occupied by an *average-sized * teenager who had enough space on the chair for her body alongside her iced coffee and a muffin, while she sprawled in a sideways sort-of position in the chair. She was having a damn picnic all up in that chair as though it was Roman times and we were casually hanging out in a triclinium. Public service announcement: Those extra-wide seats are for extra-wide people, or people who require attached devices, or any other number of things, none of which include giving your coffee and snacks a comfortable place to sit.

I need to be really honest with myself and everyone else and own up to the fact that I am shit at speaking up about my needs with people I don’t know well (or total strangers). I wedged myself into a regular-sized chair (my hips were zinging with pain) and tried to distract myself from the pain by reading while I waited the 45 minutes until the medical staff was ready for me. During that wait, I kept willing myself to just ask this young woman if she would mind if I sat in that chair because of my physical needs. I suspect she probably would have moved and I have no doubt that she wasn’t even really aware that the wide seat is meant for those who are, well, wide. But, I totally chickened out. What if she refused? What if she gave me a dirty look or said something rude to me? I was already feeling some anxiety about the tests that were about to take place, and I would rather face the pain I was familiar (pinchy chair, physical exhaustion) with than risk dealing with an unknown reaction.

Again, it’s likely that this young woman didn’t even comprehend the real purpose of the only wide chair in the area, and so my intention isn’t to shame her; rather, it made me think about how aware any of us are about our surroundings and how that affects others, based on context. If there had been no fat people in the waiting area (or people who needed the extra space for a medical device, etc.), then it wouldn’t have mattered to anyone if this young woman sat in the chair. In fact, it was only me that it mattered to at all on this particular afternoon, but it DID matter to me.

I try very hard to be aware of how I affect others. I’m a big person, I take up space, and I’m constantly trying to fold myself up and hold my body in ways that will affect others as little possible when I’m on a plane, or in a restaurant, or seated at a venue, or whatever. I try to look out for the needs of others as best I can and, in general, people tend to be fairly courteous to me (don’t get me wrong, I’ve encountered some real bullshit with people over my weight in my lifetime, but certainly the positive experiences I have with people outweigh—haha– the negative). For all that I do to try to be aware, I’m sure that sometimes things still end up in my blind spot.

The Royal Jubilee Hospital also had one wide seat per waiting area and it just so happened that the one in the area where I needed to be was taken up by another woman when I got there, but she was a large woman and I don’t begrudge her that seat one bit. It made me so happy that she got to wait in comfort! It’s the context that mattered. My needs weren’t being fully met but I didn’t feel so crappy about it because, even though the chair wasn’t available to me, it was being used by someone who needed it rather than being occupied by someone who had a blind spot about the fact that the wider chair existed for a specific reason and that they could fit, without pain, into a regular-sized chair.

As body and ability movements/activists become more vocal and visible there are certainly changes that I see happening, and I’m heartened by those changes. Hell, I’m motivated and grateful to all of the brave people who are putting themselves out there so that others, including myself, can have better quality of life. I have spent much of my career actively and successfully advocating for others and I’m only just really learning how to be okay with telling others that my needs are real, that they are important, and that I matter.

Thank goodness for Samantha Irby, Roxane Gay, Hannah Gasby, Lindy West, Alison Malee, Glori B, Candy Palmater, Joy Nash, Michelle Elman, Rachel Wiley, Sarah Sapora, and so, SO many more. Those women are fucking slaying it! They are challenging where people who have traditionally been marginalized (women, people of different sizes, people with different abilities, POC , LGTBQ2IA people, people with mental health issues, etc.) fit into this world and they are helping to shape a better, more inclusive one. I am personally grateful to each and every one of them, and so many others, because without their voices I don’t think I would be on the path to learning just how worthy I am.

As inclusion increases, it’s important that we recognise the privilege and abilities that we DO have so that we don’t use misuse resources that are required by others in ways that hinder their access (for example, I don’t physically require a wheelchair accessible bathroom so I don’t use that stall so that it IS available for someone who actually needs it). I’m hoping that as more awareness is raised, that we will all practice checking our blind spots more frequently and try to understand our surroundings through the perspective of someone who experiences the world differently that we do.

Pull up a wide chair, or a mobility device, or whatever makes you comfortable and let me know in the comments what blind spots you’ve witnessed in others or what you could pay more attention to, yourself. Maybe there is something that is negatively impacting your life on a regular basis that people don’t seem aware of. If so, please tell me about; I’m always looking for ways to be more aware.




Bliss Bakery (West Kelowna)

Bliss Bakery has 4 locations that I’m aware of; there are 2 in downtown Kelowna, 1 in West Kelowna, and 1 in Peachland. While all of the locations are different in layout and size, the food is consistent in the 2 locations that I have visited and I appreciate that. This post will specifically be about the West Kelowna location, unless otherwise noted.

Things of note (at the West Kelowna location):

  • Bliss Bakery is in a large strip mall complex so there is lots of dedicated parking nearby.
  • You won’t need to navigate stairs and the inside and outside seating areas are wheelchair accessible, including the bathroom.
  • The outdoor seating consists of plastic chairs with arms and for that reason I don’t sit outside here. Additionally, this place doesn’t have a great view (the parking lot on 2 sides and the highway on the other). If you want to enjoy Bliss Bakery treats with a great view, be sure to visit the Peachland location. The outdoor seating looks across the street to the lake.
  • Indoor seating is varied. There are booths, moveable metal chairs that are very sturdy (seriously, they are heavy duty) and don’t have arms (no pinching!), and couches/loveseats.
  • I do find Bliss Bakery to be slightly more expensive than some of the other independent bakeries and cafes that we enjoy in the Okanagan, but not significantly so. This location is very convenient if you live in West Kelowna.

Bliss Bakery is one of the places my husband and I sometimes enjoy a breakfast date on the weekends. It can get quite busy around peak times (especially weekday lunch times, in my experience).  We’ve always been able to find a table when we want one, though sometimes we enjoy taking our food and drinks to go and savouring it down by the lake at Gellatly Bay that is only a few minutes away, by car.

My favourite breakfast treat is a fresh mixed-berry scone but they tend to sell out fairly quickly so get there early if you have your heart set on one. This particular time we arrived around 10:30am to find they were out of scones but I was able to have the last “mixed-berry tea biscuit”, which was basically a scone baked in a muffin tin with some drizzle on top. My husband enjoyed the cheese chorizo croissant. Both items are pictured below.

I nearly always get a non-fat London Fog latte here, and they run a bit on the sweet side but I find that to be a nice treat. Like most places these days, they will make your drink with whatever milk or milk alternative you specify.

They make sweet and savoury items and will serve them to you hot or cold, depending on the item and your preference. Some of the more substantial items include wraps, sandwiches, quiches, and more. They also sell some gluten-free items for those who are looking to meet specific dietary needs. They offer some drool-worthy dessert bars and pastries if you’re looking for a quick treat or want to load up a box to share with family or co-workers.

They’ve recently started offering bamboo straws (they come in a reusable cloth cover) with your cold drinks. The cost is $1 for the straw and it’s yours to keep, of course. If you’d like to purchase a straw but not a drink, you can have one for $3.

Have you tried any of the other Bliss Bakery locations? If so, let me know if you find them to be accessible in the comments. Also, be sure to let me know which dessert items you think I should try!





Tokyo 1 (Kelowna)

Sushi is one of my favourite things to eat but, as other sushi fans will know, it can be expensive when you’re feeding large groups (or teenagers—I have two of those). One of the great things about Tokyo 1 is that they have an all-you-can-eat system where you pay a set price for lunch (about $18/person) or dinner (about $26/person) and order as much as you want, including being able to order multiple times if you’re still hungry.

There are a few differences between the lunch and dinner menu, with the main one being that the most expensive items (sashimi, crab legs, etc.) are reserved for the dinner menu. This is not a buffet-style restaurant and thank goodness for that because sushi that sits out is not sushi I want to eat. Instead, every table is equipped with an Ipad that displays pictures and descriptions of the food. The menu is extensive and the portions (aside from rolls) are very small so they aren’t really meant for sharing, but you can order as many as you want.

There are many other Asian-inspired dishes that are not sushi, so even your non-sushi-loving friends and family members can enjoy a meal here. There are Chinese, Japanese, and Thai inspired items on the all-you-can-eat menu such as Asian curries, skewered meats, dumplings (gyoza and dim sum), various noodle dishes (pad thai, etc.), different types of fried rice, salads, soups, desserts, and more!

There are plenty of vegetarian items on the menu as well but if you are ordering them specifically because you are a vegetarian be sure to let them know or they might put veggie items on the same plate as fish items, for example. They are happy to keep them separate if you ask, though.

Things of note:

  • There is dedicated parking so you’ll be able to find a spot nearby.
  • There are no steps into or inside the restaurant.
  • The bathrooms are wheelchair accessible.
  • The tables are a combination of booths, bench seats along the wall, and sturdy chairs (without arms) that pull away from the tables. Any of the tables that aren’t booths can be moved around to accommodate large parties, larger people, or people with mobility devices.
  • There is plenty of room to get around in this large restaurant.
  • Chopsticks are automatically provided. If you’re unable to use them for any reason, you’ll have to request additional utensils.

Now for the really important stuff…the food!


Above: Edamame and assorted vegetable tempura.

Above: Agedashi tofu.

Above: Seaweed salad (I love the crunch of this stuff).

Above: Salmon nigiri. Salmon nigiri and tuna tataki are two of my all-time favourite foods. Unfortunately, tuna tataki is not offered at Tokyo 1. Fortunately, Kaiso in West Kelowna makes my favourite tuna tataki so I go there to get my fix. Nom! All those fantastic, healthy, tasty fish fats and proteins. The nigiri here is buttery and melts in your mouth, exactly the way it’s supposed to!

Above: Sakura Roll (spicy salmon, tobiko, avocado, tempura flakes, spicy mayo).

Above: White  Dragon Roll: Prawn, cucumber, avocado, tuna, tobiko, crab, spicy mayo.

The rolls were quite good but usually I skip them to make room for more nigiri. I wanted to try some different menu items, though, and share them here. I wish I was eating some salmon nigiri right now, but I pretty much always wish that.

If you’re looking to try something new give Tokyo 1 a try and let me know what you think about their food in the comments.


Illichman’s Meats, Sausage, & Gourmet Foods (Kelowna)

Illichman’s offers a wide selection of German and other European foods including fresh foods to prepare at home and prepared foods that can be enjoyed immediately. It’s one of our favourite spots in Kelowna to grab a sandwich to enjoy on one of the beaches nearby (Gyro Beach and Rotary Beach as just a few minutes away by car).

Things of note:

  • Illichman’s has dedicated parking and I’ve never had difficulty finding a spot.
  • There is a gentle sloping ramp leading to the doors (there are two entrances but more on that later).
  • There is sufficient space to get around with a mobility device.
  • I’m not sure that they have public washrooms.
  • There are a few stools and tables if you wish to eat there but the chairs are very high and would definitely not be comfortable for me. I’m always grabbing food to go, though, and it seems that is what most people do.

There are two entrances as the building is divided into two parts. One side offers deli meats and salads, fresh cuts of meat to be prepared at home, frozen items, canned and jarred goods, and plenty of candy and other treats, most of which are from Europe.


The other side offers hot lunch items, sandwiches made to order, and all kinds of baked goods that are made on site (see pics above).

We usually stop in for our picnic sandwiches but on this visit we were looking  to splurge on desserts for the family. Below is a piece of their fudgey, dense chocolate cake, and a creamy slice of bienenstich cake (AKA bee sting cake).

Above: We picked up a few other treats including these little marzipan cakes and the chocolate “salami”. The label says it’s a combination of dark chocolate, dried cherries, biscotti, candied orange peel, and a bit of amaretto. We haven’t tried it yet but it’s certianly making it onto my next charcuterie platter!

Being that most of the items are imported or made fresh, you will find that this isn’t an inexpensive place to shop but the quality and variety make it worth the cost when you’re looking to treat yourself or someone else.  Have you tried Illichman’s? What are your favourite things to eat from there? Let me know in the comments, please!