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Tag: eat (Page 1 of 4)

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 what how they each were. 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 & we I figured 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!

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

Quick Mayo

Homemade mayo. It’s become a bit of a staple in our house. I know not everyone loves mayonnaise, but I swear homemade is a game changer. It takes about 2 minutes to make & tastes significantly better than most store bought versions. & then you can quickly throw together a delicious crab salad or some spicy mayo dip. Trust me on this one – it’s really simple.

For this non-recipe, you’ll need an immersion blender & a tall mason jar. The jar should only just fit your blender, without a lot of extra space around it. Assemble the following ingredients in the mason jar to start. To make a little under a cup of mayo, you’ll need:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup of oil

I generally eyeball the ingredients & it turns out great, so don’t worry too much about exact measurements. If anything you want a little more oil than less. Use any mild-tasting oil for this. I generally use light olive oil because I find regular olive oil has too strong a flavour. Many people like avocado or macadamia nut oil too. Experiment & figure out what you like best (or just use the light olive oil – it’s great!).

Mayo Ingredients

Throw all your ingredients into your mason jar & put your immersion blender to the very bottom of the jar.

Fire up your blender! Keep it at the very bottom to start, & slowly raise it as it starts to emulsify. If it doesn’t seem to thicken to the right consistency (think thick, but spreadable), add more oil & repeat the process with the blender & the mason jar.

Halfway Mayo

Halfway

Fifteen seconds in, it should look like the photo above. You can still see a little bit of oil at the top, so you can slowly start to raise the blender so that it mixes with the rest.

Our finished product is always a little more on the yellow side because we use those Omega 3 eggs. It tastes delicious though. Add it to crab meat with a little hot sauce, celery, & dried seaweed for some quick midweek lettuce wraps – that’s my favourite use for this stuff!

30 sec mayo

Experiment with different oils – each will add a bit of a different flavour, so you may have to play a little to find the one you like the best. There’s some debate about how long this mayo keeps for. I usually keep mine a little over a week, since I make it in smaller batches as I need it, but I’ve also heard it’s good until the date on the egg you used.

I like it a lot better than most mayo’s I find in the stores (with one pricey exception I sometimes give in to) & it’s easy & cheap to make with ingredients you’re likely already buying. Have you ever made your own mayo? Is it something you’d try?

Braising

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Totally profession plating here…

For the last few years, we’ve ordered an eighth of a cow from a coworker of N’s. His family has a smaller ranch called Grazed Right. Our beef order has since become something we look forward to every fall as the beef is some of the best I’ve ever had. (I am in no way affiliated with their ranch, btw – I truly love their beef & have recommended it to most of our close friends.) Ben & his family are really great people & I’m happy to support them in becoming successful full-time ranchers. I hope they’re well on their way to achieving that goal!

One of the unexpected perks of ordering a portion of an animal is learning to cook cuts that you may not have otherwise bought. I’m very rarely intimidated by any cut of beef anymore since every eighth has such a variety – from bone-in steaks to roasts to chuck steak & short ribs. It’s a great opportunity to get a little creative in the kitchen.

We were discussing our upcoming beef orders recently & comparing what we had left from the previous year. As N & I are on our third year, we’ve fared a bit better with our ground beef usage especially (when you order in bulk, you generally get a lot of ground beef – we turned some of ours into sausage which definitely helped!). A few people mentioned they still had chuck steaks leftover since they usually require a lengthy marinade. Personally, I marinating a bit tedious so I’ve turned to braising instead. While it is a slower method of cooking, it’s virtually foolproof & a delicious way to turn a tougher cut into something wonderful. I love that this method is back in popular rotation – I’m sure my grandparents would have a good chuckle over what was probably a common way to for them to cook.

I thought I’d share my favourite recipe on the blog today, in case you’re looking for a way to use this cheaper cut. I’m using the term recipe pretty loosely here – there’s really nothing groundbreaking here. For those of us who forgot about braising though, I hope it serves as a little inspiration to put it back into your weekday rotation.

You’re going to need:

  • 1 medium onion (white or yellow)
  • 1/2 cup of red wine (split in half, I used cab sauv)
  • Stock (Beef or Mushroom preferably, I think I had chicken on hand – whatever)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 T butter or fat
  • Pinch of thyme
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Get your chuck steak out. I usually let my meat come to room temperature before I throw it on the grill on in the oven. This is especially true with chicken, but I find it works well for keeping steak juicy too.

Next, grab a sharp knife & slice your onion. I like to do them a medium thickness. I find I get the best caramelization that way. While you’re slicing your onion, heat a large oven-proof dutch oven on medium heat. (I used my le Creuset for this recipe. It’s awesome, but you definitely do not need to use one. Any oven-safe dutch oven will work. Normally I would actually use my Staub because the lid is basically made for braising. There are a lot of options out there though & you don’t HAVE to splurge on either of these!)

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Add the butter or fat to the dutch oven. I use a mix of bacon fat & butter. Once it has melted, you can add your onion & turn it down to low. You want to slowly cook the onion until it’s caramelized. While this is cooking, grab your steak.

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You can admire her for a minute here if you like…

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Cube your steak & set aside in a bowl.

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Keeping an eye on the onions, measure out the rest of your ingredients. Mince the garlic if you haven’t already. Measure out a cup of stock & 1/4 cup of wine.

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When your onions are almost caramelized, add the garlic. Cook until fragrant.

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Remove the onions & garlic & set aside. Add the steak to brown on all sides.

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Once the beef has browned on all sides, add 1/4 cup of the wine to deglaze the pan. (You want those browned bits in your “sauce”!) It will cook off a bit & then you can add your onion & garlic back in. Add the stock, the rest of the wine, & the spices until the meat is covered. (My measurements aren’t an exact science so you may need a little more or a little less depending on the size of your dutch oven & how much steak you have.)

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Cover & put in the oven. Set your timer for 30 minutes. I check it every 30 minutes or so until the sauce has reduced & the meat is tender. It usually takes about an hour & a half to two hours.

After an hour, I’ll usually start prepping my side dishes. We like to pair this with mashed faux-tatoes (cauliflower pretending to be mashed potato). It’s really simple & delicious. It would also go well with real mashed potatoes or even rice, if you’re like one of our friends who loves rice!

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Mashed faux-tatoes in the vitamix

When it’s done, it will look like this. If you’d like to add a little flour to your sauce (or make a roux), that would probably be lovely. I sometimes add a tiny bit of tapioca flour to thicken it, while keeping everything gluten-free. I don’t think it needs it though if you don’t want.

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I served it on top of the mash & added a bit of arugula. That’s it! It makes for a delicious meal!

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So that’s how I make use of our chuck steaks. These are more guidelines than anything else – add your own twist (& let me know how it goes!) or keep it the same.

While braising is a bit of a slower process, I think it’s worthwhile. Your whole house will smell fantastic, it’s relatively hands off, & you end up with a fantastic, hearty meal at the end.

Eat Eat \ Suzette Bistro

Parlement de Bretagne

Parlement de Bretagne (2009)

I’ve written at length about my love for Lyon, but my first French love was actually for Rennes. Ten years ago, I packed my comically large suitcase for a semester abroad in a small French city in the northwest region of Brittany. At twenty, I had no real clue what I was getting myself into or how the experience would change me.

Rennes (or Roazhon, if you speak Breton) felt like a small town to me, & I spent the next six months exploring every inch of it.The city is considered to be one of the most festive in France & I made every effort to take in as much of that as I could. It certainly lived up to its reputation – I can barely keep track of how many festivals & events took place during my stay.

One of the many festivals: Fest-Noz

One of the many festivals: Fest-Noz

Wandering the old streets of the beautiful historic center was by far one of my favourite pastimes during my stay. A picnic in one of the beautiful parks also isn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon, & thanks to the large student population, Rennes also boasts a vibrant nightlife. There’s even a street made up only of bars. Nicknamed “rue de la soif” (Street of Thirst), rue Saint-Michel is the place to be on a Thursday night during the school year.

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One of the beautiful squares

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Portes Mordelaises: the last remaining gate to Rennes from the middle ages.

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Crêperies at St Anne

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Parc du Thabor

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Opéra at Christmas (2005)

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A rare snowfall at Villejean Residences

If that wasn’t enough to make me fall in love, the local food certainly did. Brittany has many wonderful specialties including seafood, salted butter caramels, numerous pastries, cidre (hard apple cider), & half salted butter (for some reason, it’s unreal). You can find most of these at the weekly Saturday market, le marché des Lices. For my favourite traditional Breton delicacy though, you’ll want to head over to Crêperie St Anne & order a galette. Breton galettes are the crêpe’s savoury soulmate, made from buckwheat flour & filled with anything from smoked meats to vegetables & cheese.

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Le marché des Lices

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An having a galette jambon at the market

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Galette Complète – jambon, œuf, frommage.

I thought I’d have to go back to Rennes for my galette cravings until Suzette Bistro opened this year. I could barely contain my excitement as I walked over to meet N for dinner last Friday. Reminiscing about my time in Brittany, I had high hopes for our meal.

A quick look through their drink menu & I decided on the cidre brut (dry cider) – a favourite from both times I lived in France & an easy choice for me. Their selection also included a decent assortment of beer & wines. I love that the cidre was served in a traditional ceramic mug like you would get in Brittany. Things were certainly off to a good start!

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Cidre

For my main course, I chose the Complète, with French ham, Gruyère cheese, & egg (always my favourite variety in France!). N went with the Norvégienne, which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s eaten with him as it features smoked salmon. All galettes come with a a mixed green salad. Ours orders arrived quickly & that was the first thing I dug into. It doesn’t look like much, but this is exactly the same salad I’ve eaten in countless restaurants across France, & it is fantastic. The magic is in the perfect dressing. If that didn’t take me back to Bretagne, then my first bite of galette certainly did. It was perfect combination of ham, cheese, & egg in every bite! & the actual galette tasted exactly as I remembered. I tried a couple bites of N’s, & it was delicious too. A generous serving of smoked salmon paired nicely with the creamy leeks.

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Despite barely having room for dessert, I convinced N to share a Bretonne crêpe with me. I couldn’t resist the idea of caramel beurre salé (can you blame me?!). I also ordered a cappuccino. It was the perfect way to cap off our meal.

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A perfect crêpe, bigger than my face.

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Suzette Bistro gets tops marks from me as authentically Breton & incredibly delicious. The prices are reasonable, the service was pleasant (you could even practice your French with some of the staff, if you wanted!), & the food was fantastic. It seems we aren’t the only fans of this new Mission addition either – the place was surprisingly busy despite our early reservation.

I highly recommend you check out Suzette Bistro – they do weekend brunch & weekday lunch & dinner (with the exception of Mondays). Thank you to Suzette for a wonderful meal & a fantastic trip down memory lane.

Suzette Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat Eat \ Parc Brasserie

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When N was back a few weeks ago, I took him out for an evening to celebrate his (then belated) birthday. It seems like there are so many new places opening up all over the city so we decided to check a couple of them out. We started the night at Proof, a new cocktail bar with an impressively extensive menu, grabbing one of the last tables on what was looking to be a pretty busy Friday night.

With so many cocktails to choose from, it took us a while to make a decision. I finally went for the Millionaire – a delicious combination of whisky, grand marnier, grenadine, & egg whites. I’m such a sucker for cocktails with egg whites so it was a bit of a no brainer for me. N went with Fire in the Pharmacy, which is a scotch float with lemon, ginger, honey, & mezcal. I’m not really a scotch fan, so I never would have ordered this, but I’m so glad he did. It is delicious – such a great surprise!

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birthday boy

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Unfortunately we only had time for the one drink before we had to head to dinner. I look forward to going back & tasting more cocktails. I also plan on trying some food off their menu next time too – everything coming out of the kitchen looked incredible.

The space itself is pretty cute, with high ceilings & big windows facing the street, but the wall of bottles behind the bar is probably the most impressive piece. It commands your attention, especially if someone has to hop on the ladder.

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drinks

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an impressive wall

In order to make our reservation, we hopped in a cab to Parc Brasserie for dinner. Walking in, the decor was exactly what you’d expect of a French Brasserie, with black & white checkered floors & simple design. We were seated at the back, by the kitchen, giving us a great view of the rest of the restaurant. I loved the art on the walls, especially the familiar photos of different landmarks across France. I spotted a few favourite spots in their gallery.

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We decided to dive right in with a bottle of wine – a Côtes du Rhône we really enjoyed. We also shared two aperitifs: the Croquettes & the Rillette de Lapin. The croquettes were a perfectly fried combination of Emmental cheese, ham, & potatoes, topped with aioli & a little extra cheese for good measure. The rabbit rillette came with pickles, capers berries, mustard, & crostini. We enjoyed both thoroughly. Another nice touch was the fresh bread they came around with as we waited for our starters. It was some of the best bread I’ve had in this city (so I suggest you say yes if they ask – go for the country style).

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Deciding on a main course was tough as everything sounded delicious. In the end I went with the classic choice: Steak Frites. Topped with roasted shallot butter, mushrooms, & peppercorn sauce, it was cooked perfectly & full of flavour. Pairing it with the accompanying arugula made for the perfect bite! The fries were generously portioned, crispy, & flavourful. I loved the aioli that came on the side.

N’s choice stole the show though. He went with the duck, which came with asparagus, lentils, & an orange sauce. It was incredible. We capped off the night with cheese – the perfect dessert, if you ask me. It came with three beautiful cheeses, crostini, & two jams. It was a great way to end the meal.

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Steak

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Frites

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Canard

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Cheese Course

Our experience at Parc was wonderful – our server was great, as were the others we interacted with throughout the night. They were attentive & helpful every step of the way.

I hope to head back for a repeat experience soon. I’m a sucker for a good french brasserie & I’ve been eyeing the Tuesday night moules special.

Thank you for a fantastic evening, Parc!

Parc Brasserie, 17th Ave:
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On part-time long distance (& a new favourite spot)

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N has started a work rotation up north. Fourteen days on, seven days off. Good for his career, unfortunate for our lives.  We’re more than halfway through the longest span of him being away & I am eagerly anticipating his return – making belated birthday plans & thinking up fabulous meals to cook together. He was thrust into this new position pretty quickly with a week of training followed by a longer rotation. So when he gets back next week, he’ll have been away 21 of the last 24 days (Sink or swim!).

Luckily (or unluckily?) we’re no strangers to this long distance thing. In fact, until last year we’d probably spent more time living apart than we had together.I moved to Montreal for school four months after we started dating. We weren’t even sure where this new relationship was headed, but we decided to try to make it work anyway. We spent the next two years courting primarily over text message, skype, & occasional visits. Once I graduated, I moved home, thinking this was the end of this “style” of romance. Ironically, my cross-country move coincided with N’s work travel ramping up. An out of town project popped up nearly every time we made plans or bought concert tickets. The threat of having to reschedule or find a last minute friend to buy his ticket was never far from our thoughts.

Then, a couple years ago, he changed jobs. Deciding he wanted to get some different experience, he took a project engineer position that required fieldwork. We expected to go back to this quasi-long distance relationship, but dodged that (as well as the salary uplift) until now. So while I do miss him very much, it’s been almost two years in the making. We discussed the pros & cons & made a conscious decision to accept a rotation up North. That simple fact makes it a little bit easier to take, I think (at least for me, but I’m not the one working most of the summer).

Last time N was home, we took advantage of the gorgeous weather & headed over to Cannibale. This new addition to our neighbourhood (or neighbouring hood, anyway) already has me looking for excuses to grab a drink on their fabulous patio. More than just your average neighbourhood bar, Cannibale features creative cocktails, an excellent selection of wines, beers, & spirits, & a delightful take on bar food.

With two successful restaurants in Dairy Lane Cafe & Blue Star Diner, I had high hopes for their menu. & there’s been no disappointments so far! In fact, they’ve exceeded my expectations with their friendly & welcoming bar staff, killer design (think trendy speakeasy vibe), & inspiring menu.

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The menu. I’m partial to the Santiago.

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N & I shared the Foie Gras Parfait on our latest visit &, honestly, it was parfait. I’ve also tried their Peasant Cheese Board: a lovely selection of cheese, crostini, & honey. A bite of one of their sandwiches had me wishing I’d ordered my own. As for the cocktails, I personally love the delightfully sour Santiago, while N favours the Jungle Bird (& the Pimmy Gibbler is more than just a funny cocktail name). Although, the bartenders are always game to make suggestions if you’re unsure. My favourite craft beers round out the drink menu & I’m looking forward to making a dent in the wine list (if cocktails aren’t your thing).

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With a full bar & a patio, what more could you ask for? A classic, full-service barbershop perhaps? That’s right, Cannibale also features an attached single-chair barbershop at the front. It reminds me of Blind Barber in NYC. I just love this concept! I’m looking forward to watching Cannibale become part of the neighbourhood.

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The one perk to long distance is that you really take advantage of the days when you’re together & make the most of that time. Thank you, Cannibale, for giving us a great spot to do so. & welcome to the neighbourhood.

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Holidays at the Lake

As I was packing to spend May Long weekend at the lake, I realized that I still hadn’t posted anything from my last two trips out there. We spent both Christmas & Easter with my family out at the lake & I took a few photos. I love spending time out there! Most of the weekend consisted of cooking & eating, but I captured a few moments from Christmas morning too. So here we go, a big old fashioned holiday photo dump!

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N & his giant stocking

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It’s not Christmas without a little sparkle

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the freshest of figs

Dad decided to roast a couple ducks, which turned out incredible. You also get the added benefit of duck fat when you cook duck, which we proceeded to cook our potatoes in for the rest of the weekend. If you’ve never had potatoes fried in duck fat, I strongly suggest you get out there & try it.

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Two sitting ducks

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It turns out that carving a duck is completely different from carving a chicken, so unfortunately (ha!), we’re going to have to practice. More duck, please!

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The next morning, I took a turn in the kitchen. I’d made a paleo banana bread the week before, so I decided to make banana bread french toast. Seems impressive, but it’s actually a very simple breakfast. My favourite kind of cooking.

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I was also in charge of dinner on Saturday night. We didn’t have much planned that day so I decided to go with a slow braise. The leisurely pace of the prep for this type of meal is perfect for a quiet day at the lake.

I picked up a pork shoulder from my favourite butcher in Calgary, Bon Ton Meat Market. They’re a bit out of the way for us in their new location, but I know I can always trust them for specialty cuts (or any large roast, bone in). We also brought our extra large Staub out of storage at N’s parents. (We’re storing a lot of wedding gifts at both of our parents’ houses until we find a house.) I used that for this roast, since it was larger. I chose this Martha Stewart recipe,  & the only thing I’d have done differently is trust my gut on the amount of liquid. It got a little low since my Staub is so large. It still turned out delicious. Caramelized onions & bacon…need I say more? (I also thought it’d be funny to live tweet the process, so if you’re interested the hashtag was #deBoersmakedinner.)

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Look at that awesome sear!

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The next time we were up at the lake was for Easter. I literally only took food photos with my DSLR, although we did more than just eat. We also discovered a new ATV route, got a couple good runs in, & played some games.

I seem to have great timing for when my parents chose to open some of the wines from their trip to France in 2006. They brought back some beauties & this Volnay Clos des Chênes was no exception! They also catered to me & served lamb again this year. I always joke that I don’t like ham, which isn’t entirely true. I love bacon & prosciutto, & I’d never turn down a slice of Iberico Ham. When you put a glazed ham up against lamb though, lamb wins every time for me. (& don’t talk to me about turkey at Easter. No.)

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Lamb > Ham, any day.

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So there you have it – all caught up on my holidays at the lake, always a very food-centric time for us. I assume if you’re reading this blog, you’re into that type of thing.

With N away for work right now, I’m bringing a couple girlfriends to the lake this weekend. There’s been talk of dad’s famous pizza, which should make it a little more difficult to focus through the final workday!

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