WHOA lansi

francophile, oenophile, logophile, turophile

Tag: food (Page 1 of 4)

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. ūüėČ

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.

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 Рthis 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 Рa 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. ūüėČ

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!

 

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.

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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.

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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On Meal Planning

I love thinking about food – any & all food is fair game.¬†I take pleasure in sharing my knowledge of Calgary’s food scene & delight in the ongoing search for delicious fare.¬†You’d think this passion for eating would perhaps translate to my enjoyment of meal planning, but it truly does not. I don’t really believe anyone who tells me they love this task. Don’t get me wrong, I love thinking about new recipes & forming an unstructured plan of what we’ll eat, but I don’t enjoy sitting down to actually plan the week. I get much more enjoyment from flexible plans, but I personally don’t find them realistic for our everyday lives. For one, I hate throwing out food. It’s one of my pet peeves. Even if something I’ve made doesn’t quite turn out, I’ll usually eat it. There’s also the unfortunate fact that we need to be a little bit conscious what we’re spending. So every week, I sit down & make a meal plan.
I used to be quite diligent about this process, but lately I’ve been struggling with finding the motivation. Recipes I’ve pinned still look delicious, but I don’t always have time (or energy) for a weekday experiment. It’s just not always realistic to spend hours in the kitchen on a Tuesday night. Sometimes I just want something quick & easy, something that I already know will be delicious.
This is exactly why I’m grateful that I’ve been so organized with our meal plans. (Excuse me while I pat myself on the back for that one.) Thanks to my penchant for planning, I have a record of every single meal plan we ever made. Originally, I typed them up in word, printed them off, & stuck them on the fridge. At the end of the week, I’d put them in a binder. (How cute!)
A couple of years ago, we made the switch to online recording. We use an app called Evernote. It allows you to create lists that sync to multiple phones, making tracking, organising, & editing simple.When N picks up groceries, he checks off the items in the app as he goes so we know whether we’re missing anything.
a sample Evernote plan
I really like our system, but I still find my inspiration lacking from time to time. A few weeks ago, I was on Instagram & noticed how often I share our meals on my feed. Why not use these for inspiration?! There’s a good mix of tried & true recipes as well as some newer, exciting ones. I created a hashtag for these photos so they’re easy to find (one of the greatest features of instagram!). You can find them by searching #deBoerDinners.
Whenever I’ve used a recipe, I’ve tagged the owner or referenced it in some ways. There are some experiments & staples up there though that will not have recipes associated with them, but hopefully they all help to inspire your meal plans when you’re feeling a bit stuck. I plan to continue to add to it as we cook more too, so it will continue to grow.
Do you ever find yourself in a cooking rut? I’d love to hear about your tactics if you do! Happy Meal Planning!

Honeymoon 001 \ Paris

The de Boers are off to Europe!
When we first started talking about our honeymoon, I knew I wanted to show N the city I lived in for seven months (& the reason this blog exists): Lyon. Lucky for us, that would mean flying in to Paris first, giving us the opportunity to spend a few days in the city of lights.

Not everyone loves Paris. I’m not one of those people. I find Paris beautiful & exciting & I can’t visit enough. This trip would be my fourth trip to the French capital (Paris is always a good idea, non?), & I can still see myself going back in the future.

Planning started early. We booked our accommodations with AirBnB. After this trip, I can’t recommend enough this site enough as we had nothing but great experiences. You have to do your research, but that’s always something I’ve enjoyed. Looking at photos of apartments & reading reviews never really feels like work to me. Making a decision though – that’s another story.

I picked a great apartment¬†in Paris’¬†fourth arrondissement – one of my favourites! Notre Dame, City Hall, Ile de la Cite, & the Marais district are all within walking distance. I was quite excited to have scored such a great location after having stayed much further out on my last two visits. (My first time I was spoiled & stayed with my parents, right off the Champs Elysees. Tough luck, eh?)

The living room & kitchen of our apartment

Our flight arrived early &, after a delay in the sweaty baggage claim room due to an unattended bag at the McCafe, we made our way into the city on the RER. Our host, Paco, told us we could drop our bags at the apartment while they finished cleaning up. We grabbed lunch near the Centre Pompidou (typical brasserie fare with a couple beers) while we waited.

The crowd waiting to exit baggage claim
Affligem on a terrace

By 1:00 pm, the apartment was ready for us. Paco welcomed us to Paris, gave us a few instructions, & left us to freshen up. We hadn’t slept much on the plane, but had decided to make the most the day anyway.

Our first stop was Pont de l’Archev√™ch√©, or Lovelock Bridge. It’s said to be the first of this kind in Paris. Who knows if that’s really true, but we added our lock to the bridge & kissed the key goodbye (literally) before throwing it into La Seine. If you find yourself in Paris, look for our lock. Hopefully they won’t have cut it off – I hear that’s bad luck.

Les Bouquinistes along the Seine

 

Notre Dame de Paris
Lovelock Bridge
 
Goodbye Key!

Personally, I see travelling as an opportunity to experience different cultures through food,¬†so our next stop was a wine bar in the sixth. I’d heard about it while watching one of the many shows featuring Anthony Bourdain in Paris. (He’s not for everyone, but that man knows food & gives good advice. Check his stuff out. I like No Reservations.)

L’Avant Comptoir is a¬†standing-room-only¬†tapas & wine bar near the Odeon metro. It serves up an assortment of small¬†plates alongside a beautiful selection of wines (for those who can’t afford Le Comptoir du Relais next door or can’t get a reservation). The space is narrow. You walk through a plastic curtain to find people standing around a zinc bar, ordering from a friendly barman. The open kitchen allows you to watch staff scurry back & forth with different orders.

We started with the ham croquettes filled with iberico ham – not to be missed if you pay a visit – & a glass of red wine. I can’t tell you which as I just asked him to surprise us. I’m assuming this was Eric, who I read knows exactly what you need. We were not disappointed.

Sleepy N

The menu hangs from the ceiling on cards. After much back & forth about what we should order next (everything sounded delicious), we settled on a charcuterie board. We enjoyed the added bonus of watching them prepare it, using a beautiful, red meat slicer. They were more than generous with the assortment of meat they provided & it was likely more than we needed, but we thoroughly enjoyed every bite.

a slicer made in heaven
The most incredible Charcuterie

A selection of cornichons, mustards, hand-churned butter, & fresh bread sit out on the bar, to be shared with other patrons. As we enjoyed our wine & charcuterie, the barman would come by to suggest combinations of cornichons & charcuterie or mustard & bread Рit was my favourite part of the whole experience. All of his suggestions were enthusiastically devoured by us both.

We¬†visited¬†at an off-peak hour, but by the time we left people were starting to filter in. I’ve heard it gets packed later on, but that could make for a fun experience. If you’re in Paris, I can’t recommend it enough. Eric took a picture for us before we left & I made sure to sign the wall.

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incredibly happy

Our next stop was the Eiffel Tower. N hadn’t been up last time he was in Paris so we thought it was worth going. As we arrived, it looked like it might rain, so we ducked into a little brasserie to wait it out & have a drink.

Hello, Jet Lag! Our lack of sleep on the plane had caught up with us & we took turns accidentally nodding off at the table. We must have looked ridiculous to passersby. Fortunately, the rain seemed to hold off so we decided it was best if we got moving & made our climb to the top. I’ve been up a few times now & it really is a spectacular view. Paris appears neverending.

Post Nap. Ready to Climb

Weary & hungry, we made our way back to the Marais for dinner. We attempted to go to Breizh Cafe for an authentic Breton dinner (crepes & fresh seafood were a staple when I lived in Rennes!), but it’s not the type of place you can just walk into without a reservation (before 10 pm at least).

I had my heart set on crepes (or galettes, if we’re talking the savoury Breton variety) though. Wandering around the Marais, we found La Droguerie du Marais on Rue des Rosiers. The crepe-man makes your crepes right in front of you, taking orders & making jokes from a window that opens onto the street. I was sold. I ordered a jambon-oeuf-fromage, a staple in Brittany, while N went for a slight variation on that combination. (I don’t remember exactly what his was because I was too distracted by my own.)

We’d planned to enjoy our crepes with a glass of wine, but they were pretty much finished before we got back so it wasn’t long before we called it a night. We had a lot more exploring ahead still, so it was time for some much needed sleep. I’ll leave day two for my next post.

Eat \ Anju’s Test Kitchen Takeover

It’s been decided. We’re part of the Roy Oh/Anju Fanclub, maybe even the founding members. Over the course of a month, I attended 3 dinners where Roy was either the chef or a contributor, and he doesn’t even currently have a restaurant right now!

H actually has me beat though as she attended four over the course of the month. If that’s not fan girl status, I don’t know what is.
Kidding aside, if you haven’t eaten Roy’s Korean Fusion fare, you’re missing out. I know I just said that he doesn’t currently have a restaurant, but that’s all about to change soon (stay tuned to their twitter – @AnjuRestaurant. I know I will be!). If you’re familiar with the Calgary restaurant scene, his new digs will fill the space that used to be Petite (at 17 avenue & 4 street SW).
For my second Anju experience in June, a YMCA co-worker invited H & I to check out his pop up at Test Kitchen. H was a bit hesitant as this would be Anju meal three for her, but in the end she couldn’t resist.

I love this pop-up series idea going on at Test Kitchen & really hope it continues. I think it’s great to have different chefs come in & have the opportunity to do something that is maybe a little different from the usual fair in their own establishments.

We started the evening with a soju strawberry, chili, & mint cocktail. As expected, it was delicious. The flavour combination was different in the best way. The hint of spice was a welcome surprise & I’m a sucker for any cocktail that features mint.

The first course was a spicy oyster shooter. We each got a little shot glass with a spicy oyster shot. I love oysters so it was a great way to kick off the meal.

Next we had a bone marrow risotto. Rich, creamy, & decadent are adjectives that spring to mind when I think of this dish. Bone marrow has such an amazing flavour on its own; the smooth & creamy risotto was a perfect pairing. Roy had also added some anchovies that reminded us of one our unexpected favourites at the Chinese Association dinner. I’m sure I made my happy face throughout this entire dish. It was that great.

Fish & Chips were next up on our menu. We discussed what possible spin Roy would put on it. Roy’s creativity shone through as we were presented with what looked like two spring rolls on a bed of tartar sauce.

We all decided to go with wine pairings for the meal. I wish I’d taken better note of the wines we tried. They were all lovely and mostly white wines, not something I usually pick myself since I know my taste in red better.

Our last savoury course was bibimbap. This was a new dish for me, but one I think I can get behind. As usual, Roy had a bit of a non-traditional take on this wonderful dish. As I’ve come to expect with
most dishes that come out of his kitchen, I loved the combination of different flavours in this dish. This time I think the different textures were what I most enjoyed though here.

Last came dessert – milk & cookies. The milk was a sesame milkshake & the cookies were warm chili chocolate. It was a delicious end to a fantastic meal & further cemented Anju in my mind as somewhere fantastic. I will definitely be very excited to see this restaurant back on the scene in Calgary & can’t recommend it enough.

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