WHOA lansi

francophile, oenophile, logophile, turophile

Category: Food (Page 1 of 3)

Poutine with Purpose

Poutine Week 2018

Oh My Curd – my favourite food week is upon us! Lucky for me, I’ve already had my stretchy pants on for weeks. Talk about perfect timing to be pregnant! If you follow me on social media, you may have noticed a lot of posts about poutine; I’m an official Poutine Pusher for #PoutineWeekYYC again this year!

Calgary’s Poutine Week is the seven days of the year you can eat poutine guilt-free! Why?  Every poutine sold at participating restaurants provides a meal to a youth in need thanks to Mealshare YYC! Last year, 8,000 poutines were sold over the course of the week, providing 8,000 meals to those in need. We’re looking to break that record for 2018, & with 85 amazing restaurants participating in the cause, we have high hopes!

It’s easy to get involved:

  1. Find a restaurant or poutine you want to try at poutinewithpurpose.com
  2. Eat poutine.
  3. Provide a meal to youth in need
  4. Tell everyone!

This week, I tested 5 of those 85 poutines. If you need some help narrowing down the list, here are my thoughts on the five poutines I tried.

Calcutta Cricket Club

I’d been meaning to get to Calcutta Cricket Club since they opened, so when I saw them on the list, they were my first pick. I’d been hearing rave reviews about this 17th ave spot since they opened this summer.

CCC has two options on the menu this week. Both include curry in place of the usual gravy, either butter masala or fenugreek-cream. As I think you’d expect from a Indian-inspired poutines, they’re spicy & full of flavour. The fries are seasoned with Kashmiri spices & would stand up on their own as a fantastic snack over cocktails. I’ve been obsessed with fenugreek lately, so I immediately feel in love with the fenugreek-cream curry. It’s to die for! & the Butter Masala has a hint of that Butter Chicken flavour that’s so popular, but stands on it’s own. To top it all off, they brought in some seriously legitimate cheese curds. (Honestly, these were the most authentic curds I tasted all week – the squeak!) They didn’t cut any corners with these dishes & it showed in each beautifully executed component.

Calcutta Cricket Club

Calcutta Cricket Club

If you like spicy Indian flavours, I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a better poutine option this week. I couldn’t get enough of either option & definitely struggled to put down my fork. My only regret is not asking to take the leftovers home with me.

On top of the delicious food, both the ambience & service are spot on. I’m already planning my next visit – I think I need to try the rest of the sharing-friendly menu, & hopefully enjoy one of their fantastic-sounding cocktails post-baby.

Calcutta Cricket Club

Butter Masala Poutine

Calcutta Cricket Club

Fenugreek – Cream Poutine

Calcutta Cricket Club

Wine Bar Kensington

My next stop was Wine Bar Kensington, a hidden gem & sister restaurant to Brasserie & Container Bar. I think Brasserie is one of the best kept secrets in the city, & my personal go-to spot for fantastic brunch without a wait. Now that I’ve given away my personal brunch secrets, let’s talk about the Not-So-Traditional Poutine from @winebarkensi .

Featuring duck gravy, pickle-brined shoestring fries, Alberta cheese curds, chives, radishes, & a lovely side of house-made pickles, it’s delicious. I thought this one was the perfect combination of rich, comforting, & flavourful, all while not putting me into a total food coma.

Winebar Kensington

Poutine Prep

Winebar Kensington

Their intimate downstairs space is perfect for a date night, or catching up with some girlfriends over wine & cheese (or poutine!)

Winebar Kensington

the Not-So-Traditional Poutine

I’m honestly not usually a fan of shoestring fries, but they worked so well here. The dish comes with the gravy on the bottom, so the chef suggested I mix the shoestring fries into it. I think this is the key to the success of the shoestring fries as they don’t get soggy from having the gravy on them from the start. The chives & radishes serve to balance the richness of the duck gravy, which is exactly what the dish needs. I’m always a sucker for a side of pickles, especially when they’re as delicious as Wine Bar’s, so they were the perfect accompaniment to a well-executed poutine.

Cleaver

Third on my personal poutine week tour was Cleaver. My friend, Heather, joined me for dinner Friday evening & we started the evening with their AMASIAN duck & pickle poutine.

This one has a lot going on, in all the right ways: double dipped duck fat fries with confit duck leg, topped with teriyaki gravy, pickled zucchini, pickled onion, Gochujang aioli, & Montreal cheese curds.

Cleaver

AMASIAN duck & pickle poutine

Cleaver

The promise of pickles, duck, & Gochujang were what immediately drew me to this one when I saw it on the roster. Despite these heavy hitting flavours, it’s somehow both balanced & complex. We both really enjoyed each varied bite. & I even learned something new, pickled zucchini is delicious! Before tasting this one, I was a bit worried it might have too many competing elements, but they all really worked together.

During our meal, our server shared a fun fact about how they landed on this particular poutine as their entry for the competition. They held an in-house competition amongst their staff a few weeks ago & it came out on top! How’s that for an ingenious way to come up with a creative new dish?

Royale

After a weekend of bachelorette activities, my best friend & I decided to grab a late lunch at Royale on Sunday. If you haven’t been since this space was Melrose, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how bright, open, & beautiful it is inside. It’s the perfect spot for a boozy brunch with girlfriends or a romantic date night. The service was friendly & welcoming & we never once felt rushed. It was a beautiful spot for a lazy afternoon catch up.

Royale YYC

The gorgeous bar at Royale

Royale YYC

I love this beautiful mirror & the giant skylight . Such a pretty spot.

The menu at Royale is French-inspired, so they went with some pretty classic flavours: duck leg con fit, cheese curds, & pan gravy. This is not a poutine for the faint of heart; it’s huge! If you’re not the biggest duck lover, I would probably advise trying a different poutine this week. This is a true homage to the bird. There is so much rich, duck flavour in every bite. Even with two of us, we couldn’t get halfway through this one. Bring friends. Order some fun drinks. Sample a couple other things from their delicious menu. That’s how I would do it. 😉

Royale YYC

I’m not sure if the photos truly do the size of this thing justice.

Royale YYC

It’s massive!

Royale YYC

4th Spot

My last stop is a neighbourhood favourite. I made a reservation for lunch at 4th Spot this week, hoping the weather would cooperate & I could walk over with Odin & enjoy their patio. I couldn’t have planned it any better. We had the perfect day. I found a quiet spot at the edge of the patio in the sun, where I could pay attention to the doggo while enjoying my lunch. I think he might have stolen the show for everyone else on that patio though, with that adorable mug. He has a real knack for winning people over.

4th Spot YYC

My patio poutine partner in crime.

On to the poutine, though! This was another monster serving. 4th Spot is doing a BBQ Burnt Ends Poutine this week. Their hand cut kennebec fries are topped with Quebec cheese curds, brisket burnt ends, crispy jalapeños, crispy onion strings, & covered in homemade gravy & BBQ sauce drizzle.

4th Spot YYC

BBQ Burnt Ends Poutine

4th Spot YYC 4th Spot YYC

My favourite part of this poutine was the crispy jalapeños. I could not finish this one, but I made sure to eat every last jalapeño. They were battered & fried, & so addictive. All of the flavours are fantastic, but it is very heavy. I was glad to have a walk home afterwards! If I didn’t love the crispiness of the jalapeños so much, I might suggest they be fresh, just to offer a counterbalance to the heaviness. Then again, poutine is supposed to be heavy, so I can’t hold that against it.

After a week of sampling poutines, I’d like to be able to say that my cheese cravings are satisfied, but pregnancy doesn’t seem to care that I’ve consumed enough to last me a few weeks. I am looking forward to some lighter meals over the next week, but with so many delicious options out there still, I’m having a hard time not finding an excuse to grab another Mealshare poutine. It’s for a good cause, right?

As always, thanks to Karen for organizing this amazing event & thinking of me again this year. I always love being part of Poutine Week, & the fact that it’s turned into such a great opportunity to give back to our community, with the help of Mealshare, may just be the best part. Thank you also to all the restaurants who hosted me & were so open to chatting about their creations this week – you guys have been so awesome & accommodating! I can’t wait to find out who are overall winner is!

Happy Poutine Week, friends!

(I unfortunately had to miss my favourite event of poutine week – the Gravy Bowl – which was a huge success! Anju took home first place in the competition this year. Congrats to Roy & his awesome team! Find my previous year’s posts here, including my first Poutine Crawl experience way back in 2014! I can’t believe this is my 5th year of poutine-ing!)

Travel \\ Prague

Prague

In 2009, at the end of my second séjour in France, I booked a little trip that included Prague. The city had been on my wishlist for a long time & it seemed like the perfect opportunity to visit. I was looking forward to catching up with a Czech friend from school in Rennes, exploring the beautiful sights, & eating my weight in fried cheese. It did not disappoint. When we went to book our 2017 trip, I knew it had to include this beautiful gem. & the Czech people love their beer, so of course, they’re my kind of people. Here’s what I loved most on this most recent visit.

Traditional Czech Food

I’m not sure that food is the first thing that comes to mind when most people think of Prague, but I think it certainly should be. The food scene here is really diversifying, but I truly love the traditional dishes of the Czech Republic. They’re rich, comforting, & truly delicious. There’s a reason this grandmotherly style of cooking is making a comeback: it’s amazing!

The first (& last, let’s be honest) thing I want to eat here is fried cheese: a slice of Eidam cheese, breaded & fried. In fact, I booked my first trip partly because I had to try it. & I will happily eat fried cheese in any of its many forms throughout the Czech Republic, but my favourites are Lokal’s simple version, pan-fried in butter, & the sandwich you’ll find at food carts around Wenceslas Square. I ate fried cheese every chance I got & I have no regrets.

Prague 2017

The best fried cheese of the whole trip (& I ate it A LOT), at Lokal.

Without a doubt, the best thing I ate in Prague, & possibly anywhere, was beef tartar. I cannot recommend this enough, even if raw beef makes you a little bit wary. This regional classic is definitely something I wouldn’t leave the Czech Republic without tasting. Embrace your adventurous side! Usually served with toast & condiments, each bite has an addictive textural contrast that had me wishing we’d ordered two. The tartar at Nase Maso doesn’t look like much: two slices of toast, Czech raw garlic, & what looks like a hamburger patty. Rub the garlic over the toast & top with the meat for what I believe is the most perfect bite of food.

If you really can’t wrap your mind around raw beef, the burger here is a good compromise. I wouldn’t want to you to come to Prague without getting a glimpse into the hussle of this wildly popular butcher shop. Butchers cut the steak & grind the beef in full view, which I found to be a fun part of the experience.

Nase Maso, Prague

The busy lunch rush at Nase Maso, the coolest butcher shop I’ve ever been inside.

Nase Maso Beef Tartar

This beef tartare is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Honestly, it blew my mind.

Nase Maso

Butcher Counter

Nase Maso Burger

We also shared a burger that I’d happily eat one hundred times over.

Overall, we ate a lot of good food in Prague, most of it regional specialties. Other noteworthy meals included chlebicek (Czech open-faced sandwiches) for breakfast at the adorable Sisters (actually next door to Nase Maso on Dlouha) & Goulash, a Czech take on this specialty shared by many in that region, at Mincovna in the Old Town Square.

Mincovna Goulash

Czech Goulash at Mincovna

Sisters Chlebicky

Sister’s chlebicky for Breakfast

Sisters Chlebicky

Chlebicky on display

Beer

It wouldn’t be right to go on a European Beer Tour & leave out the Czech Republic. Beer drinking is practically a national sport here. I remember discussing the beer culture with my Czech girlfriend over lunch before I was anywhere near as into beer as I am now. She told me it was normal to have a beer at lunch, & common to see women enjoying a pint alongside their male colleagues, which was somewhat of a revelation to me at the time. I’d only just graduated from drinking bacardi breezers after all. (Don’t judge! I was so young!)

There is no shortage of great spots to enjoy a pint in Prague, with more microbreweries popping up all the time. Our AirBnB happened to be across the street from Craft Beer House, which we wound up at a several times over our short stay. If you’re looking for knowledgeable staff & multiple taps – this is your bar. The service is friendly & welcoming & they really go the extra mile to find a beer you like. We ended both our nights in Prague with a drink on their front stoop.

Craft Beer House

Hanging out on the sidewalk at Craft Beer House

Touted as THE pub in Prague, U zlatého tygra is a must visit for me. They serve one type of beer: Pilsner Urquell, & although I enjoy this local brew, it’s really the atmosphere that makes this the spot to visit. I’d read it was a cultural institution, & it was clear the Czechs agree from the minute we walked in the door. The place was packed. I’ve never seen people pound back beer as quickly as these guys while maintaining an air of sobriety. They were certainly loud, but hanot the least bit belligerent. Everyone was there to have a good time with their friends. Photos of sports icons, celebrities, & politicians line the walls, the bar staff is gruff, but efficient, & you’re unlikely to get a table unless you show up early, but it’s worth stopping in for a glimpse into Czech pub culture.

 U zlatého tygra

The only photo I managed to snap inside the boisterous
U zlatého tygra.

If we’d had better weather & more time, I’d have loved to check out some of the beer gardens around the city too. The Letna Beer Garden figured high on my list! As I mentioned above, the fried cheese at Lokal was a definite highlight, but so was the excellent beer & cave-like interior of the Mala Strana location. We also enjoyed U Rudolfina for a pint, but you really don’t have to look very hard to find good beer in this city.

Lokal beers

Enjoying a pint in the cave-like basement of Lokal.

Wander

I love having time to wander a new city, & even enjoy getting a little lost. If you’ve followed my blog since the very beginning, you know it used to be called Au fil de mes balades, which roughly translates to “as I wander”. A balade has no finite destination & that is how I prefer to explore a city for the first time. Prague might just be one of the best cities to do exactly that. Not only does it ooze old world charm, but it constantly rewards explorers with hidden courtyards, quiet cobblestoned lanes, & unexpected glimpses into daily Czech life, like no other city I’ve visited.

I highly recommend the New Europe Walking Tour here. They can be hit or miss, but both time I’ve come to Prague, I’ve hit the tour guide jackpot. Despite the most comically relentless downpour, our guide kept us engaged & entertained over the course of our three hour tour. He was full of wonderful stories & insights into his hometown & although, we were soaked & pretty cold, I truly enjoyed his tour.

Prague 2017

Old Town Square

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Prague 2017

Old Town Square in the rain

Prague 2017

Our hardy tour guide braving the rain.

Prague 2017

Prague 2017

Wenceslas Square

Once you’ve got your bearings, & a good understanding of the center, I highly recommend wandering some of the other neighbourhoods. Head over the Charles Bridge & up to the Prague castle for stunning views over the city. Explore the cobblestoned lanes across the Vltava River in Malá Strana. This is where you’ll find the John Lennon Wall (pretty meh, especially after the East Side Gallery in Berlin). Keep an eye out for markings on different buildings in this area – they show how high the flood waters measured in different years! The views of the Charles Bridge & Prague Castle from the Mánes Bridge are also some of the best in the city, if you ask me!

Prague 2017

Mánes Bridge & Prague Castle

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Prague 2017

Exploring Malá Strana

Prague 2017

Flood Markings

Prague 2017

John Lennon Wall

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Prague 2017

Dancing ladies

Prague 2017

Hidden coffee spot, Super Tramp

Prague 2017

Pastries & Coffee

Prague 2017

Streets around the castle

Prague 2017

View from the Castle

Prague 2017

Streets of Malá Strana

Prague 2017

Charles Bridge

It’s funny the things that stick with you when you travel. For me, it was this Jewish Cemetery in Prague. Due to a lack of space in the tiny ghetto, people were buried on top of one another so that now the whole cemetery sits 2m above street level. The gravestones have tilted a little further in the 8 years since I last visited, but you can still steal a peak at them through a small window in the door.

The Jewish Quarter is a top destination for tourists for many reasons – its rich history, medieval synagogues, & various exhibitions – but this little cemetery is my favourite.

Prague 2017

Peaking through the door

Prague 2017

Prague 2017

The official entrance

No matter what brings you to Prague, I think you’ll find something to love. I could have easily spent a few more days exploring, eating, & drinking, but it was on to our next stop for us: Munich!

Dear Berkeley Bowl

I love grocery stores. I know that’s kind of an odd thing to say you love, but I really do. A truly fantastic grocery store makes me really damn happy. Before coming down to California, I was pumped to spend a couple months living near Whole Foods & Trader Joe’s. That was literally on my list of things to do in California: shop at Whole Foods. That was, until I learned about Berkeley Bowl.

Berkeley Bowl is an independent supermarket in, you guessed it, Berkeley, CA. They’re best known for their produce selection, & for good reason, it’s one the largest selections of produce I’ve ever seen in a single location. Even their organic section rivals most regular grocery stores. It’s the place to go when you’re looking for that one strange ingredient for a recipe.

Berkeley Bowl

The huge organic section

Berkeley Bowl

Berkeley Bowl

So much produce (& dang, I wish limes were this cheap at home!)

Berkeley Bowl

Berkeley Bowl

Mushrooms on mushrooms

Berkeley Bowl

There were literally too many to fit in one photo

Berkeley Bowl

Honestly though, it’s kind of the place to go for whatever your grocery needs might be.  They have a huge, full-service meat & seafood counter, more varieties of dairy products than I can even attempt to sample, most of the specialty grocery items you expect to find at Whole Foods, & an amazing bulk section. I assume the bulk section is similar to what you’d find in a Bulk Barn, but smaller. Here you can stock up on spices, pastas, cereals, flours, rices, candies… That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. I like it for the spice section. I love that I can refill my existing spice containers when I run out or get a pinch of something I need for a recipe. I’m that person who filled a bag with 8 cents of red pepper flakes.

Berkeley Bowl

My favourite section, obs

Berkeley Bowl

Berkeley Bowl

Cheese Island – the happiest place

Berkeley Bowl

Bulk Spices!

Berkeley Bowl

Part of the dairy (& nut “dairy”) section

In addition to all this, they have a great full service cafe at both of their locations. I haven’t tried anything except their coffee, but it’s always busy & the food looks delicious. If you’re thinking that it comes with a Whole Foods style price tag, you’d be wrong. It’s surprisingly affordable!

With two locations in Berkeley, I often find an excuse to stop by when I’m out & about. N thinks it’s ridiculous that I enjoy spending so much time in grocery stores, but what can I say: I love food. Maybe then he’ll understand why I love it so much when he finally sees it (one of my goals is to bring him at least once before I leave), but I doubt it. He’s a “get in, get out” shopper, I’m a “compare everything, wander aimlessly” shopper. 😉

I’ll end my love letter to the Berkeley Bowl here & just say, if you find yourself hungry in this funky city, stop by & grab something delicious. You won’t be disappointed.

Travel Planning: my tips & tricks

SF Mission MuralsOver the last six months, I’ve done more trip planning & created more itineraries than ever before. My most successful plan so far was my first trip down to SF to visit Nathan in May. I combined everything I knew about how we travel with what I’d learned on our previous trips to make the most amazing itinerary. As someone who loves travel planning almost as much as the travel itself, this was immensely satisfying.

This week, I’ve been working on an itinerary for our visit with Nathan’s sister & her boyfriend. They’re coming to stay with us for an extended weekend & we want to do all the things. Since planning is fresh in my mind, I thought I’d share some of my best tips, & a few of my favourite apps that make it all a bit easier.

Find the types of resources you enjoy reading. 

It’s so much easier to plan if you’re actually reading about things you enjoy. If you love art & history, maybe some of the travel guides are a great read for you. More than likely though, there’s a website or magazine that highlights your interests more specifically & can give you tips on what to see & do. à

For me, I generally turn to food-related articles, so Bon Appetit is always the first place I check. They’re starting to have a nice selection of city guides that I highly recommend checking out if you like to eat. Otherwise, The New York Times, Eater, & Anthony Bourdain (he just launched a travel website, but you can also search any of his shows online) are my go-to resources for getting the ball rolling.

Create a personalized map of your favourite places

Once you’ve started research, you’re going to need somewhere to store all that data. My absolute favourite travel app is Google My Maps. I can’t recommend it enough & use it daily when I travel. I’ve been using it for a few years now, but they seem to be trying to bring more awareness to it lately, & I’ve found myself using it much more heavily this year.

Google My Maps: Bay Area

My Map for the Bay Area

Basically, it just allows you to create custom maps. You can personalize them & then share, collaborate, & take them with you anywhere. I made one for every city we visited in Europe & then shared them with our crew. You can access them from the Places menu in Google Maps, so they’re easy to locate on mobile.

I’m a pretty visual person, so I find this is a great way to start sorting through what I might want to do in a city. I can easily see what places are close together without getting bogged down by stuff I don’t care about, & build an itinerary from there. My Maps will still show things you haven’t saved, but since I personalize my icons, they don’t get in the way. In addition to visual customization, you can also add your own notes to a place once you’ve saved it to your map. This is a handy little reminder for why I added a place or for other little details, like “bring cash!” or “skip the line by getting takeout”.

Google My Maps

My notes on Powell Street Street Car

I have maps for most of the cities we’ve visited now & they come in handy any time we revisit. I love researching new restaurants & things to do, so mine are all pretty full. That can be overwhelming for a lot of people. The beauty of these maps though is you can make them as busy or as simple as you like – it’s all based on what you enjoy! Well done, Google.

Google My Maps close up

Close up of my SF Map

One more thing I should mention: these maps also seem to work with offline areas, which is great for when you may not have a ton of data to use, but still need navigation. Download the offline area for any major city & you’re set!

Flesh out an itinerary

Everyone travels differently, & I know the idea of having a plan sounds totally awful to many of you, but I tend to want to cram a lot into a small amount of time. When you only have a few days somewhere, a plan can help alleviate disappointment. At the very least, I like to make a couple dinner reservations & then look at a few other things that are nearby. Lately, I’ve been building my itineraries in Word since it’s incredibly simple, but I’ve also used Evernote, Google Keep, & my calendar for storing ideas. Anything that allows you to keep a few short notes & ideas for when that jet-lag takes hold is perfect for this.

SF Itinerary in Word

Sample SF Itinerary in Word

In May, we crammed a crazy amount of stuff into a long weekend. Most of this was possible because of all the research I did. It was probably the most intense itinerary I’d ever created. I prefer this style to the more “we’ll see what we feel like” style we’ve gone with in the past, because I find I spend less time doing research while I’m on my trip. Instead, I get it all out of the way beforehand & if I don’t end up feeling like doing something, I don’t have to, but I don’t waste time looking up ideas for things to do on the fly.

Save it all to Dropbox

Dropbox has been around for so long, so this is nothing new. It’s a great way to access files when you’re away from your computer, or share & collaborate with others. I like to save all my travel-related files to a folder I can access when I get to my destination, & Dropbox does this seamlessly.

My travel folder contains pdfs from travel websites, google maps directions to certain places, all my itineraries, any pdf e-tickets I’ve purchased in advance, & copies of our passports & travel documents. It’s all in one easy-to-access spot (just make sure you can connect to WiFi, have data, or make it available offline!).

& that’s mostly it! That’s how I stay organized for our trips & cram in as much as I do. If you have any tips of your own, or would like to see some of my crazy travel maps, let me know in the comments. Happy planning!

 

Poutine Week 2017: Poutine Pusher

Poutine Week YYCAs official #PoutinePusher for Poutine Week YYC this year, I had the opportunity to sample several poutines around the city & today, I’m going to share how they each stacked up. This year there are over 70 restaurants participating, so there’s a little something for everyone!

You have until Saturday to get some poutine in you for a good cause. I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with any pick, & for every poutine you buy, a free meal will go to someone in need (thanks to Mealshare). It’s a true win-win. If you need some help narrowing down the list, here are my thoughts on the six poutines I tried.

Mill Street Brewpub

If I’m being honest, I picked Mill Street for what I knew of their beers. N was going to be home for the weekend & I figured we coukd convince a few friends to join us for drinks at some point in the evening. It wasn’t until closer to the date that I really took a serious look at their entry: the Donair Poutine.

Mill Street Donair Poutine

Donair Poutine

If you’ve ever spent any time in the maritimes, namely Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, then you know all about Donair sauce. This sweet & savoury sauce is most often talked about as a late-night pizza topping. My experience is mostly limited to a few stumbly nights at the Wheel in Antigonish, NS. Since then, I’ve had it a few times at different spots around Calgary, but I mostly think of it as drunk eats.

Enter Mill Street’s Donair Poutine with house-made donair meat, crispy russet french fries with hop salt, cheese curds, house made gravy with 100th meridian beer, sweet donair sauce, topped with diced tomatoes and red onion. N & I each ordered our own. When they arrived at our table, we realized our mistake: this poutine is huge! We could have easily shared.

Mill Street Donair Poutine Mill Street Donair Poutine

A few bites in, we both agreed this poutine was a winner. The donair meat was tender & flavourful, the curds were squeaky (a huge win in my book), the donair sauce complimented the gravy, & somehow the fries held their own underneath all of that. It was a great start to a huge week.

We stuck around for a few more beers that evening, friends joined us, & we had a great time. Our server was attentive & friendly & our overall experience at Mill Street was wonderful.

Kensington Pub

The next morning we’d made plans to join Kevin from Different Alphabet Productions to shoot some video for poutine week. We headed that way for noon & grabbed a table with Danny from Whistler Brewing to wait for the rest of the crew.

The KP Yolo fries use Whistler’s Black Tusk Ale in their gravy, so of course, we had to grab one of those. Normally I wouldn’t go for a dark ale so early in the day, but the Black Tusk is smooth & easy to drink.

Kensington Pub Yolo Fries

YOLO!

Since we were hitting a couple stops that day, we ordered two Yolo fries for the table. It was the smartest decision – this one is not for the faint of heart. KP mixes double smoked cheddar with that Black Tusk ale to make a smoky, rich cheese gravy that tops slow cooked ham hock and crispy fries. We all agreed the side of housemade horseradish aioli was the perfect sidekick. With all that decadence, I was impressed by how well the fries held up – a testament to truly great potatoes.

Kensington Pub Yolo Fries

As always, Kensington Pub was a real treat: the staff & owners are always welcoming, they have great beers on tap, & the poutine was fantastic.

Ship & Anchor

Our next stop before we hit the Gravy Bowl was the Ship & Anchor Pub. The ship is a staple for many Calgarians, & for good reason. It’s an institution here. That patio is packed the minute the temperatures rise above zero (ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. Slight.). The chances of running into someone you know at the Ship is always high. & they could totally half ass their food & still probably be packed, but that’s the best thing about it – they don’t. (Their servers are also some of my favourites in the city.)

Ship & Anchor Poutine

Patio beers at the Ship

Last year, they sold 277 poutines to win the 2016 Poutine Week title. I didn’t get a chance to try it so I knew I had to check out their Le Meaty Mediterranean Poutine this year. We lucked out with some gorgeous afternoon sun & snagged a spot on the patio. That’s how I suggest enjoying this poutine if you can swing it (come on weather!).

This was another huge poutine that I was happy to be sharing with a bigger group. I think they might have been going for go big or go home cuz it had a crazy number of components to it. We decided to get it with grilled sirloin (which they cooked to medium rare for us), but they’re happy to take that off if you’re vegetarian. I heard they can also make it vegan if that’s your jam. It’s nice to see more options like this during these food weeks. It’s so much more inclusive.

Ship & Anchor Poutine

Le Meaty Mediterranean Poutine with a beer

Ship & Anchor Poutine

So much going on!

In addition to the sirloin, saffron fries were topped with crumbled falafel, grilled pineapple, fresh mint, baba ganoush, sweet garlic sauce, feta, cheese curds, and gravy. The pineapple was cut deceptively similar to french fries, which threw me off on my first bite. I honestly wasn’t sure that the pineapple was even going to work here, but it ended up being one of my favourite parts of this poutine. My favourite bite included pineapple, fries, both cheeses a bit of falafel, gravy, & some mint.

Ship & Anchor Poutine

I’m not sure if this one will win everyone over, but it certainly wins points for originality. & as with most things I’ve eaten at the Ship, it was well executed. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, I say go for it!

Roosevelt

On Sunday, we headed over to Roosevelt for lunch. If you’ve never been for Sunday brunch, I’d suggest checking it out, mostly for the complimentary milkshakes. How can you go wrong if you start your brunch with a milkshake?

I’ve only been to this 17th ave spot a couple times. As more & more great spots open up in the area, it’s harder to get back to the ones you’ve already been to. When I saw that their poutine included gochujang gravy, I was sold though. Gochujang is a spicy & sweet fermented Korean red chili paste.It’s one of my favourite condiments!

Roosevelt Poutine

Roosevelt Korean Poutine

This poutine came out with crispy fries, cheese curds, Korean beef, & a fried egg. N & I are both suckers for fried eggs on pretty much anything. There’s something so satisfying about that runny egg yolk. That spicy gravy stole the show with this one. As spice lovers, neither of us could get over just how good it was. The cheese curds were squeaky like I prefer them, the fries held up to the gravy, & the beef has lots of great flavour, but the gravy is what would bring me back in.

Roosevelt Poutine

Roosevelt Poutine

Possibly my favourite gravy

Brewsters

We went to bed Sunday night thinking there was no way we could eat any more poutine this week. I was almost read to tap out until I remembered I’d scheduled Brewsters’ Tater Tot poutine for Monday’s lunch. Anyone who knows me knows my love for tater tots runs deep. I’m not ashamed to admit they’re my favourite anytime snack. I’ve been known to order them even if we’ve already eaten that day.

N & I used to hang out a Brewsters in Crowfoot pretty regularly back when we first started dating, but it had been years since I’d stepped inside their downtown location. We got its sister restaurant, Beer Revolution, fairly often, but hadn’t been to Brewsters for some reason. I was pleasantly surprised by how bright & open the restaurant was. They also have a decent sized patio out the side & parking, a rarity in the beltline.

Brewsters Cheesy Tater Tot Poutine

I was relieved to see that it was a manageable portion when our order arrived at the table. I love poutine & tater tots, but we’d seen some pretty daunting portions. Our cheesy tater tots were perfectly crispy & topped with a bacon cheese sauce, smoked gouda, bacon marmalade & Oilberta stout bbq sauce. It was rich & flavourful, & I enjoyed every bite. I honestly don’t think it’s possible to go wrong with bacon & cheese. The bbq sauce cut through some of the richness of the cheese sauce.

Brewsters Cheesy Tater Tot P

I love tater tots, cheese, & bacon

Brewsters Cheesy Tater Tot P

If the food & atmosphere weren’t enough to convince me I need to be stopping by more often, their staff really did. Thanks to both our server & Trevor for being so welcoming.

Pig & Duke

I took a little break from sampling until today, when it was time to check out my last stop. A coworker & I headed over to the Pig & Duke for lunch. It was hopping! Despite it being a quick walk from my office, I’d never actually been inside. It’s much larger than you’d expect from the outside.

Pig & Duke Poutine

The swinetine featured Chipotle BBQ pulled pork, bacon, green peppercorns, curds, Pig Sauce, & a fried egg on steak cut fries with green onions. As soon as our orders arrived our conversation was basically put on hold as the only thing we could say was, this is so good. I love pulled pork, & this one was especially tender & delicious. The chipotle bbq sauce had so much flavour & every once in a while you’d get a green peppercorn surprise, which we both enjoyed. The fries were thick & crispy so they held up well to all that sauce, & there was a good mix of melty & squeaky curds to keep me satisfied.

Pig & Duke Poutine

Swinetine!

Pig & Duke Poutine

This was one of the more traditional poutines I tried this week. The pulled pork was so tender & delicious that I found myself wishing for more. The restaurant was full, but our service was still efficient & our server spent time chatting with us, while still turning over her tables quickly.

Now that I’ve waxed poetic about all of the fine poutine creations, I will say that I do not recommend consuming this much poutine in one week. It’s intense. That’s not to say I wouldn’t do it again, however. I will gladly sacrifice myself in the name of poutine anytime (wink wink, Karen). I’m so impressed by how different each one was, & how much I enjoyed each for what they were. The one thing I think most restaurants could have done better was to advertise their specific poutine a little more. I think only 2 of the 6 I went to were doing it, & I’m curious to see how this reflects in the final competition.

After a week of eating poutine, my pants are definitely fitting a little snugger, my cheese cravings are gone (I mean, until like Sunday probably), & I think I’ve already carb-loaded for my half marathon in August. It’s salad week next week, right?

All kidding aside, it’s been a great week! Thank you to all the restaurants I’ve linked for hosting me, to Karen for thinking of me for poutine ambassador, & to Mealshare for providing so many meals to those in need. I can’t wait to find out who our poutine week winner is!

Poutine Week 2017: Gravy Bowl

Gravy Bowl

My favourite YYC food week of the year is here: Poutine Week! For the last 4 years, I’ve participated in this glorious week of poutine by gorging myself on a variety of delectable combinations of cheese curds, gravy, & fried potato. This year, I was asked to join five Calgary food aficionados as Poutine Week Ambassadors. I couldn’t say yes fast enough when the wonderful Karen approached me with this opportunity.

The sale of each creative poutine provides a meal to someone in need. Mealshare has partnered with Poutine Week since 2013, giving poutine a purpose. It’s that one time of year that you can eat poutine totally guilt free. 😉

N & I kicked off our 2017 Poutine Week with a weekend full of delicious poutine. The Gravy Bowl was our main event on Saturday, & I was seriously looking forward to it. Teams made up of a chef + a Calgary Stampeder + a Local Brewery compete in a live cook-off for best poutine. We had such a great time last year & lucked out that N was in town again to attend.

Last years winner, Briggs Kitchen & Bar, was the host of this year’s competition. We were greeted with some bubbly as we walked in the door & immediately said hi to Poutine week organizer extraordinaire, Karen. The restaurant was already bumping, as the 8 local brewers were serving samples of the beers used in their respective poutines. Chefs were mingling as well, & we had a couple minutes to chat with Roy Oh of Anju (you may remember how excited I was last year to grab a photo with him & chat a little bit!) before the event kicked off.

Gravy Bowl

Ready for the battle to begin!

 

Gravy Bowl

Beer Tasting

Gravy Bowl

My awesome “Poutine Pusher” pin

 

The idea was that teams would present to the judges, while we sampled the same poutines family style. It was a bit of a different set up from last year. While we waited for the first couple poutines, we chatted with some of the different brewery reps. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake on our part, as most other people were eager to sample those first few poutines. By the time we got in line, we’d missed out on Brasserie‘s poutine already. Luckily, there was still enough of Anju‘s for us to sample. I’d have been really disappointed to miss both of those as they were the two I was most excited for (& with good reason as Brasserie won the whole competition).

Gravy Bowl

Anju’s korean poutine

Gravy Bowl

Gravy Bowl

My poutine date!

Gravy Bowl

Poutine Planning

After our initial mistake, we made sure to get in line early so we could sample the rest. Each team came up with something delicious & unique. I love this event for all the different approaches, from traditional creations to ones that are only loosely based around the idea of poutine. There’s something for everyone, & I think that’s the best part of this whole week.

At the end of event, N & I both agreed that Anju was our favourite of the ones we tasted. We both loved how the Korean flavours came together with the truffle in the gravy. I never would have thought to combine those flavours, but it was fantastic.

Gravy Bowl

Behind the scenes

Gravy Bowl

Dirty Bird Poutine (Last Best & Market)

Gravy Bowl

Presenting to the judges

Gravy Bowl

Adam Singleton prepping fries

Gravy Bowl

Gravy going onto Booker’s poutine

Gravy Bowl

Boeuf Bourguignon Poutine from Wurst

Gravy Bowl

Photogenic Food

Gravy Bowl

West Coast Poutine

The Beltliner Half Hitch Breakfast Poutine’s braised beef brisket also stands out to me as being fantastic, & Booker’s Turkey Poutine was phenomenal. I loved the cornbread & smoked turkey combination, as well as the fact that the cheese curds were still squeaky.

Gravy Bowl

Dan Clapson announcing the winners

Gravy Bowl

Judges & Winners

Gravy Bowl

Gravy Bowl Winners: Brasserie Kensington + Charlie Power + Dandy Brewing

Overall, there wasn’t a single bite that I didn’t enjoy. Each team really brought their A-game, & the Stampeders’ enthusiasm for the competition aspect took things to the next level. I loved the addition of local breweries this year – chatting with their reps & trying out a few new beers was a fun way to spend the day as we waited for the next poutine.

You’ve still got until Saturday to try any of the poutines included in #PoutineWeekYYC & help share a meal while you’re at it! I’ll be back later this week with a recap of the rest of my poutine adventures so you can decide what to try, or check out the Calgary Poutine website for all restaurant listings.

Happy eating, friends!

 

My Montréal

My Montreal

This time last year, we were booking a trip to Montréal for May. If I could have my way, I’d visit the city yearly. I love it so much!

I mean, how can you really go wrong with the beautiful surroundings & amazing restaurants? There is so much information out there on what to see & do in Montreal, but here’s my take on it: my Montreal.

I spent the couple years I lived in Montréal exploring the city & introducing visiting friends & family to the parts I grew to love. On our visit last year, this gave us the opportunity to stick to only the things I enjoy most: wandering the beautiful old streets, enjoying drinks with friends, & eating more than our weight in delicious food. (There are plenty of amazing touristy things to do in Montreal, but since I’ve done them all before & they’ve been covered many times all over the internet, this post will not feature them). So here we go – my top non-touristy things to do when I visit Montréal.

Wander the different boroughs

Montréal is pretty compact & easy to navigate. You can walk from the west end of the downtown to the east end in about half an hour. I find this particularly advantageous after all the food I tend to eat.

Each of the surrounding boroughs have a bit of a different feel, & I think they each have their merits. I love Old Montréal for its beautiful old buildings & cobblestone streets, the Plateau has a hipster bohemian vibe (& tons of great breakfast spots), & the newly re-invented Mile-Ex neighbourhood has some of the coolest new shops, restaurants, & bars anywhere. Something new is always opening up, making for a lively & exciting city to explore!

Take some time to get lost in a few of these different neighbourhoods – it’s one of my favourite ways to get to know any new city, or reacquaint myself with a familiar one.

Plateau Montreal

Plateau apartments

Plateau Montreal Bikes

Bikes everywhere

Place des Arts Montreal

Place des Arts

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

Mont Royale

Mont Royale

Mont Royale

Mont Royale

Mont Royale

Mont Royale

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

Place Jacques Cartier

Place Jacques Cartier

Old Montreal buildings

Old Montreal buildings

Marie Reine du Monde

Marie Reine du Monde

Old Montreal buildings

Old Montreal buildings

McGill

McGill

McGill

Bikes at McGill

If you’re visiting in the summer, you may even stumble upon one of the many festivals taking place around town. There’s at least one thing going on every single weekend, from music festivals to parades to formula 1 insanity – there’s something for everyone at some point. & if nothing else, head toward the old port to take in the brilliant fireworks competition every Saturday in July.

Get Breakfast in the Plateau

There are so many great places to get breakfast or brunch in Montreal, but all my personal favourites are in the plateau. On our latest trip, we took advantage of the beautiful weather & headed straight from the plane to the terrace at Fabergé. I didn’t even need to look at the menu to know I’d be ordering their breakfast poutine. How can you go wrong with a bacon & egg poutine in the province that does poutine best? (You can’t – it was fantastic!)

Fabergé Breakfast Poutine

Fabergé Breakfast Poutine

Fabergé Breakfast Montreal

Patio Breakfast in the Plateau

Just around the corner is the best bagel spot in the city, Fairmount Bagels. You really never know when you might need a half dozen all dressed bagels, so I recommend picking up a bag so you’re prepared whenever the mood strikes during your visit. Fairmount is strictly takeaway though so if you’re looking to sit down & have a bagel style sandwich for breakfast, their competitor St-Viateur has a great café on Mont-Royal E.

Fairmount Bagels

Fairmount Bagels

Fairmount Bagels Fairmount Bagels

Some other notable mentions for great breakfast or brunch in the plateau include, L’Avenue, Sparrow, & Beauty’s.

Enjoy some local beers

Montreal has some seriously great local beers. I’m fiercely loyal to my first love, Au Dieu du Ciel, in the plateau neighbourhood, but there are so many great places to get enjoy a drink with friends in the city.

DDC, as you’ll see many refer to this amazing craft microbrewery as, has a great little unassuming brewpub on Rue Laurier W in the plateau. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but trust me, you won’t regret your pilgrimage to this spot. Seriously, it’s the brewpub I wish I could go to every week.

Dieu du Ciel

On our most recent trip, we spent some time at another awesome craft brewery that also doubles as a restaurant & bar – Brasserie Harricana. I could have easily spent a couple hours trying all the beers they have on tap. We were on a tour though, so we had a limited amount of time.

It’s a little bit off the beaten path, but I highly recommend you check out this spot in the Mile-Ex neighbourhood. There’s some great things happening up there, so you can likely pair it with some other stops in the area.

Brasserie Harricana

Learning about Brasserie Harricana

Harricana Beer & Cheese Pairing

Harricana Beer & Cheese Pairing

Brasserie Harricana

Brasserie Harricana

One of those such stops is the third spot I recommend for great beer: Vices & Versa. We happened on the perfect spring day for a few drinks in their patio oasis. We took advantage of their amazing beer selection to sample some of the harder to find Quebecois beers.

Vices & Versa

Patio beers!

Vices & Versa

Vices & Versa

Vices & Versa

If you don’t have time to get out to any of those options, some of my other favourites closer to downtown include BrutopiaPub BreWskey, the Ste-Elisabeth, and the Saint Bock.

Pub BreWskey

Pub BreWskey

St-Sulpice

Pub Saint-Sulpice

Our crew at Pub Saint-Sulpice

Brutopia

My name may still be on the wall at Brutopia!

Check out a Market

Markets are one of my favourite things to visit when I travel, & the ones in Quebec are especially good. The Jean Talon Market in Little Italy is worth the short metro ride north. This public market is open year round, however the summer is when it really shines, with over 300 vendors filling the open-air stalls. Sample anything from fresh produce to artisanal cheeses to homemade charcuterie – there’s something for everyone!

We decided to do a food tour on our trip, & this was also were it started. It was one of the main reasons I wanted to do the tour, actually, as it made for a great excuse to spend some time at the market. I also really enjoyed learning more about Little Italy, Mile-Ex, and the Park-Ex neighbourhoods, since they weren’t so much on my radar when I lived there.

Jean Talon Market

Bustling Saturday at the Market

Jean Talon Market

Sampling charcuterie made in house

Jean Talon Market

Fresh seafood

Jean Talon Market

FRESH!

Jean Talon Market

Jean Talon Market

Cheese samples

Jean Talon Market

If you don’t make it up to Little Italy, Atwater Market near the Lachine Canal is also a great choice. In winter, it’s probably a bit of a better option than Jean Talon as most of it is indoors. Grab a few delicious products & head to the nearby parks on the canal for a picnic.

Montreal Picnic

Montreal Picnic

Picnic in the park

Eat!

Obviously, food is my favourite part of travelling anywhere, & Montreal boasts more great restaurants than most cities. With so many great options, it’s tough to go wrong. A little research will go a long way, however, here are my top picks.

Garde Manger is & has been my number one choice for years. Chuck Hughes is just such a cool chef, & his food speaks for itself. Seriously, he beat Bobby Flay on Iron Chef, with lobster poutine. Obviously, I highly recommend you order that. N ordered an incredible short rib that was probably the wining main dish for the two of us. They’re also known for their oysters, which make an excellent starter (the fresh horseradish & homemade mignonette take it to the next level). Plan to walk back to your hotel afterwards to work off all you’ve eaten – it’s worth every bite.

Garde Manger Lobster Poutine

Cell phone photos are fantastic

Garde Manger Shortrib

Their menu changes often, but if the shortrib is on it, go for it!

Another new favourite after this trip is Au pied de Cochon. It’s number 34 on Canada’s top 100 for good reason. & with menu items described as “unapologetically glutenous”, it was right up my alley.

We went a little overboard here (I do not recommend ordering both of their signature items: foie gras poutine and duck in a can. Pick ONE!), but everything we ate was phenomenal & our server was so lovely.

Foie Gras Poutine PDC

Foie gras poutine

Anytime anyone goes to Montreal, I suggest they stop by Olive & Gourmando for lunch. This adorable (& very busy) spot in Old Montreal is my idea of the perfect lunch. If the weather is good & the wait is long, order your lunch to go & find a spot in one of the many parks in the Old Port. It’s the best of both worlds. On your way out, don’t forget to grab a pastry – you won’t regret any of them.

Olive & Gourmando

Olive & Gourmando

I’ve already featured a fair bit of poutine in this post. Probably an excessive amount if I’m being honest. I have no shame in the amount of cheese I consume when I visit, however, & no trip to Montreal is complete without at least one poutine. If you find yourself craving one in the afternoon, look no further than Patati Patata. La Banquise may have more choices than you can fathom, but I prefer the classic simplicity of this tiny spot. What they may lack in space, they more than make up for in ambiance & delicious food!

Patati Patata

Poutine with a side salad. It’s all about balance.

Patati Patata

Cheese curds of your dreams

Of course, this just barely scratches the surface of this incredible city. Even after living there for two years, there are still countless places I’d like to visit & restaurants I’d want to try. If you’re planning a trip to this great city & need extra tips, leave me a comment – I’d love to offer advice!

Have you ever been to Montreal? What’s your favourite place to revisit?

Storm Mountain Lodge

We’ve been driving past this little mountain oasis, a little over an hour outside Calgary, for the last 8 years. We were always in a hurry to get to the lake, so I’d never stopped before. This summer I decided to change that & pulled into the little driveway at the top of that first hill on highway 93. I’d heard so many great things about the food, & was wowed by the beautiful surroundings & rustic little cabins. It wasn’t hard to convince me, I wanted to spend a night at some point. When I told N about it later, we both agreed to take advantage of it in the coming months.

The opportunity presented itself not long after this discussion when I realized I had a half day on the Friday before Christmas. We decided it would be a great time to spend the night at the lodge.

The day finally arrived & we set out from Calgary after work in some pretty gross conditions. We’d been having a particularly snowy December so traffic was slow due to accidents, & we arrived, in the early evening, to a perfect winter wonderland.

Our little cabin for the night

Another charming cabin on the property

We checked into our little cabin – number 15 – & got ourselves settled. Before the sun set, we decided to take Odin on a little walk & stretch our legs after the drive. It was a lovely opportunity to explore the property, & gave me ample time to slow down & take photos. I love having the opportunity to spend a little extra time focusing on photography, so I took a lot. It helps that it was truly breathtaking. I loved staying there while the lodge was under a blanket of snow, but I also hope we can visit someday on a clear day & take in those mountain views.

Our sleeping quarters

After our little walk we still had some time to kill before our 7:30 pm dinner reservation. Typically, we’d packed board games & beers, so we settled in for a couple rounds. Before long, it was time to make the 30 second trek to the main lodge.

They had requested we either kennel Odin or leave him in the car while we were out for dinner – they’ve had issues with dogs clawing at the doors. It was quite cold out, so I’m glad he’s kennel trained & mostly slept while dined.

Pork Rillette

Lamb Chops

Trio of Crème Brûlée


I was really excited for dinner & it did not disappoint. We decided to share a pork rillette dish to start, but before that arrived they brought some delicious bread. The restaurant itself consists of maybe 15 tables, but there were two servers on that evening. Both were extremely attentive without being overbearing. I’m always a sucker for lamb, so I knew that’s what I’d be ordering for a main as soon as I saw it on the menu. N went with the Bison Tenderloin. Both were fantastic, & the presentation was beautiful, as you can see in the photos above. We chose the crème brûlée for dessert, another menu item I can never resist. It came as a trio. I think my favourite was the vanilla bean, but all three were delicious.

The menu at Storm Mountain is on the smaller side, which I appreciated, being rather indecisive. I find large menus intimidating. My parents had stopped for lunch earlier in the day, & highly recommend that option if you can’t stay overnight. I might try to convince N to stop again soon – that Charcuterie Board to Share has our names on it!

One perk of staying next door is you’re allowed to take your wine back to your room to enjoy. We packed ours up & took the “long” route back for a few extra photos of the lodge by moonlight.

Playing a new board game

N made a fire when we got back & we spent the rest of the night playing games, having a few drinks, & snuggling Odin. I think it’s safe to say he loved our little cabin just as much as we did. It was a truly incredible night, & the perfect escape from our normally busy schedules & distractions. There’s just something so lovely about taking a break from it all.

We slept in a bit the next morning, took Odin for another walk around the property (he loved playing in the snow & meeting a friendly resident Burmese, Rosie), & then headed in for another fantastic meal.

the main lodge

Eggs Benedict

Our night at Storm Mountain Lodge is one of my favourites overnights to date. I know I won’t forget it any time soon, & would like to thank them for their incredible hospitality. Every aspect of our stay was wonderful – I truly can’t say enough good things about it.

If you’re looking for a rustic mountain getaway with incredible food & unparalleled charm, I highly recommend looking into staying. I know we’ll have a hard time driving through without at least stopping in for a bite to eat.

A Pizza Date

Beef carpaccio pizza

I was feeling really fantastic after my September Challenge, so I decided to continue into November. N was going to be away at the beginning of the month,  so we made a date to check out a new spot, Full Circle Pizza, as motivation to keep me going. I’d been hearing really fantastic things about their menu, & since pizza is N’s favourite food group, he was more than game for this plan.

dsc04754

I walked over & met N after work. We made it in time to benefit from their happy hour cocktails & oysters, which was an unexpected bonus. I went for a Caesar, which was basically an appetizer on its own, with an oyster, salami, a huge hunk of cheese, tomato, anchovy, & aranchini. I would totally go back for happy hour to order another one. N went with a local Calgary beer, & we set to work deciding which appies to order.

Oysters

Leslie Hardy, Shiny Sea, & Kusshi Oysters

Full Circle Menu

We decided on three types of oysters, two East Coast ones, & Kusshis from the West Coast. Full Circle is a pizza & oyster bar, so we couldn’t pass up the second half of their specialty. I think the Kusshis were my favourite, but I also really loved the two East Coast ones we tried. They take a lot of pride in bringing in fresh seafood & that was certainly apparent from their oysters. I’d been reading rave reviews about their octopus, but they were unfortunately out. I guess I’ll just have to go back sometime soon to try it myself.

Deep Fried Oysters

Deep Fried Oysters

Fried Oysters

We also decided to order the deep fried oysters. They presentation really lovely. They arrive on tucked back in their shells with a little aoili for dipping. The breading is light & crispy, & the aioli was the perfect addition.

A

N

Full Circle Pizza & Oysters

Since we went straight after work, we got a window seat right at the front. It was nice to catch the last bits of daylight after having been inside all day, but I also think it’d be fun to sit near the ovens, & watch all the pizzas go in! There’s lots of great spaces for a big group, which I think would be fun to do something (who am I kidding? I’m just a sucker for more opportunities to sample lots of the menu!).

Flaming Moe Pi

Flaming Moe Pi

Beef Carpaccio Pi

Beef Carpaccio Pi

I had waffled back & forth between the Beef Carpaccio Pi & the Reuben Pi after the Dr. Octo-Pi was off the table. In the end, I just had to try the Beef Carpaccio Pi & I have no regrets! It’s probably not something I could reproduce at home, which is usually a deciding factor for me. The flavours were so good (I really love grainy mustard). If you like carpaccio, I highly recommend it! There’s not a lot of cheese to it, but I didn’t find that took anything away.

I could have told you N was going to order the Flaming Moe weeks before we’d ever stepped foot in Full Circle. It’s spicy & meaty, & that’s totally his jam. I really enjoyed the couple slices of his I tried too. The crust on both was some of the best I’ve had in the city. This pizza is quite spicy though, so make sure you’re ready for that. We both felt that it could have done without the sriracha, which kind of surprised me. I love sriracha!

Full Circle Pizza

The best part about pizza dates? Pizza leftovers!

Overall, we really enjoyed our night out at Full Circle. I’m already planning another trip back for more pizza (& hopefully some of that octopus too!).

Full Circle Pizza and Oyster Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

September Challenge \\ Finale

November Project Sunrise

Home stretch! The final week is more or less over, & I think it’s been a pretty successful month for everyone. Some of the girls set some pretty lofty fundraiser & health goals, which I totally respect. Go big or go home, right?

As for me, I’m feeling pretty awesome. It’s been a pretty successful month & I’m really pleased with some of the side effects I’ve experienced from #SoberSeptember (& paleo). So pleased, in facet, that I’m thinking of continuing it a little longer. I’d like to commit to a mostly Sober October as well. I’m out of town the first two weekends, so I know they won’t be perfect, but I’d like to make a conscious effort to continue eating pretty strict paleo & staying away from alcohol. I’ll allow myself a couple cheats, but N will be away again so it seems like a good opportunity to keep working hard. We’ve decided that if it goes well, we’ll go for pizza & oysters at a new (to us) spot to celebrate a great fall. Seems like a fair trade off to me.

Amazing Bam Bam Shrimp from the Domestic Man blog

Amazing Bam Bam Shrimp from the Domestic Man blog

Roast Sirloin & Adair Caesar Salad, side of spiralled potatoes

Roast Sirloin & Adair Caesar Salad, side of spiralled potatoes

Cheat Breakfast: Anju KFC

Cheat Breakfast: Anju KFC

Roast chicken with veggies

Roast chicken with veggies

Vietnamese lettuce wraps by Nom Nom Paleo are a new staple in our house

Vietnamese lettuce wraps by Nom Nom Paleo are a new staple in our house

Homemade Almond Butter Chocolate Cups

Homemade Almond Butter Chocolate Cups

Braised beef with carrots & arugula

Braised beef with carrots & arugula

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Snacks with hubs: Duck Liver Mousse from Peasant Cheese (the best), homemade pickled carrots, & olives.

Snacks with hubs: Duck Liver Mousse from Peasant Cheese (the best), homemade pickled carrots, & olives.

I sometimes forget just how great I feel when I eat paleo. I generally average under 8 hours of sleep per night. With morning workouts & evening commitments, I’ve been getting less sleep lately, but have way more energy. It’s my favourite side-effect. (I’m sure the extra workouts have been helping too.) I’d also normally break out at some point this month, but my skin showed no real signs of a breakout. Even my psoriasis seems to be laying low. It’s been a great reminder that I should make more of an effort to eat this way more consistently.

Bocce Handstands

Bocce Handstands

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Daily bike to work. It’s getting quiet in the cage at work.

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Spin with some lovely ladies!

Early AM

Ready for an early morning workout!

The best part of this whole month for me was joining November Project. I’m totally hooked & can see myself continuing to attend. I’m not sure if I’ll always be able to make it both Mondays & Wednesdays, but I’d love to go as often as possible. I actually don’t have to get up too much earlier than I normally would & I just pack my bag, prep my meals, & lay out my workout clothes the night before. This week I also got back in the pool, which was a humbling experience. I hope to make it out to a practice once in a while this year – it’s such a good challenge for me.

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Early morning abs

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Speech time!

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Group Hug!

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Crab walks

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Amazing sunrise after the 600s workout

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Banner for our sister city, LA.

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On the fundraising side, I’m at 60% of my goal for the month. I’ve added my $65 donation to the mix for the cheat meals & drinks. I’m pretty happy that I managed to mostly stick to my goal, aside from in Kelowna. I even went out a few times with friends without having more than the wine I was allowed, so I don’t feel like I missed out on too much this month. Thank you to everyone who donated to my campaign. If you would still like to donate, today’s the day. This it it! (We made it, ladies!!) Check out my campaign page for more information or to add a donation to the cause. All proceeds go to cervical cancer research at the BC Cancer Foundation.

Thank you for your support! #FuckCancer

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