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Calgary Poutine Crawl 2015

Someone needs to start a YYC Salad Week. Seriously. Now that poutine week has come & gone, my pants fit a little tighter & I’ve been craving vegetables. We tasted some delicious poutines though so I think it’s a fair trade off. I tried to implement my own personal salad week last week to balance things out. Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately?) it was Alberta Burger Fest. I spent far too much time ogling the delicious entries & gave in to Eats of Asia yesterday. The things I do for charity, right? (ha!)

This year I scored tickets to the Poutine Crawl again, taking place on the final day of Poutine Week. I wasn’t about to attempt much more than that (I’m no Kyle MacQuarrie – He ate 36 poutines over the course of 7 days!), however we did warm-up earlier in the week with Anju‘s Poutine for your Seoul. I’m always impressed with Roy Oh’s creativity & this poutine was no exception. It combined Kabayaki gravy with Kennebec fries, gochugaru salt, soft tofu, cheese curds, & dehydrated kimchi. The entire dish was a hit, but the gravy stood out as one of the best I’ve ever had. Well played, Anju.

Come Saturday, our little group met the rest of the Poutine Crawlers at Below Deck Tavern. We quickly ordered a few drinks as we waited for the event to begin. I went with a caesar since it felt a bit early for beer. Below Deck’s poutine was an East Coast Donair Poutine. The fries were perfectly crispy & flavourful,  the curds squeaky, & the donair sauce was an unusual, but delicious addition. I found myself wishing there were more curds & meat, but overall it was a great start to our crawl.

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We didn’t have to crawl too far for our second poutine. We found ourselves across the street at Mango Shiva for our next poutine. I’ve been meaning to visit this beautifully decorated Indian restaurant for a while & I know I’ll definitely be back after tasting their delicious curry. Their poutine was a Rogan Josh lamb curry with cilantro, cheese, tomatoes, & fries. The flavour in the curry was unreal. I will absolutely be back to try more of their curries after that! Unfortunately, we thought the fries could have been a bit crispier & found ourselves wishing it was paired with naan or rice instead. I guess it wouldn’t have really been a poutine then, though!

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Full of delicious Indian spices, we wandered down Stephen Avenue to City Hall, where the Joey’s Double Decker Diner awaited. We lined up at the window for our enormous Greek Poutine. This thing was seriously huge, & full of amazing ingredients. Fries, gravy, tomatoes, tzatziki, cucumber, feta, & chicken may seem like an odd combination, but we all loved it. Imagine poutine topped with greek salad & tzatziki. Delicious!

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Charcut has long held the title for my favourite poutine in the city so I was very excited to see it on the list. We arrived a bit earlier than expected – it was a bit chilly to continue hanging out outside the Joey’s bus. After three poutines, we welcomed the little break, & their delicious beer selection kept us occupied.

Before too long, they made the rounds with their contribution. Their take saw crispy fries topped with squeaky curds, a light gravy, & truffle oil. When used sparingly, truffle oil can take a dish to the next level, & this was certainly the case here. This was my favourite poutine of the day, & to top it all off, we chatted with one of the chef’s, Connie DeSousa. It was great to meet her & hear a little bit about their choice of flavours & ingredients.

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We’d reached the fifth stop on our crawl & we were stuffed. I was ready for a break…& maybe a nap. But the Poutine Crawl soldiered on; it’s not for the faint of heart. Swine & Sow served up a fondue poutine. It consisted of house-cured ham, swiss fondue sauce, crisped pancetta, & a cabernet reduction. The flavours here were incredible, & incredibly rich. I could barely finish this poutine despite thoroughly enjoying the flavours.

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Our last stop was Black Betty. By this point, we’d had a few beers & were understandably full. A few of us decided to try out their cocktails, on the recommendation of one of the guys. They had some unique options. The poutine itself was also interesting. The fries seemed to be battered & it reminded me a little bit of fried chicken. It wasn’t my favourite, but I was pretty full at that point & more interested in the upcoming Flames game.

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Once again, the Poutine Crawl was a great event. Thank you to Karen Richards for organizing it again this year – it’s pretty incredible to have an event sell out when you can only buy tickets if you purchase a mealshare item & post it to Facebook.

The votes were tallied the next day & Charcut came out on top. A well-deserved win, if you ask me!

April in Instagram

Happy Cinco de Mayo! May? May is here! The weather has been fantastically spring-like. I can hardly believe our luck. Spring in Alberta is usually essentially Winter: Part 3. While I’m still expecting at least one more dump of snow, I really have no complaints with this year so far. April was pretty busy so I’m looking forward to what should a bit of a quieter May (& Summer). N has started a rotation in Fort McMurray so he will be working 14 days on/7 days off. I plan to hibernate a little bit. & eat a lot of salad.

Here’s what we got up to this past month, according to Instagram:


1. We spent Easter at the lake with my parents, ATVing, eating delicious food, & relaxing. I love spending time out there.

2. A friend of ours turned 30 & planned a “reverse surprise party”. It included a party bus, photos on McHugh bluff, & a Roughnecks game. #GarciaCat.

3. I’m attended the Calgary Expo as a volunteer on the Social Media Crew for Beakerhead. The Tin Fish was a big hit! Follow along on Social Media @Beakerhead.

4. I’ve finally started to clean out my old room at my parents’ house. I started with my wall of posters, Jones Soda labels, photos, & postcards. Goodbye young Usher.

5. Anju‘s “Poutine for your Seoul” was incredible. We shared a pre-game meal with some friends including this poutine, gochujang wings, oxtail tortellini, crispy tofu, & spicy octopus. Always a favourite spot for a great meal.

6. One canucks fan & three flames fans walked into a bar…everyone booed. haha. I always seemed to be working late during our playoff run in 2004. This year I’ve joined the crowds on the Red Mile twice to celebrate Flames’ wins!

7. Seven of us took on the Poutine Crawl this year. We had a great time sampling poutines from six different restaurants on a crawl around downtown Calgary. Delicious!

8. I used a new recipe from the Domestic Man on one of grass-fed Alberta roasts & turned out fantastic. You will not regret trying this one out!

9.  Kyle Shewfelt himself covered Adult Open Gym last Wednesday. He’s both  hilarious & knowledgeable. We learned so much & had a fantastic time. I can’t wait to practice more this week.

Happy Cinco de Mayo, friends! Grab a margarita, your Flames jersey, & cheer on the Flames tonight (after you vote, of course!).

December In Instagram

Twenty Fifteen. We’re here. December is officially last year. It always sounds a bit odd to refer to something that happened so recently as last year. This year has some big shoes to feel. I mean, last year we got married & went on our first trip together to another continent. It was a big one. Nonetheless, I’m excited for what 2015 has in store for us. I wish I could say we had another big trip planned, but we’re keeping closer to home this year. We’re looking for a house, putting down roots, trying that on for size. We’ll see how it goes. (Don’t worry, I’ve already got 5 more trips planned for the years after this one…) This year will be my fourth back in Calgary. In some ways it feels like a long time to be in one place. But I digress, this isn’t a 2014 recap. Let’s get on with it! Here’s what we got up to in December according to my favourite social media app:  

1. I can’t believe it took us this long, but we finally went to the new Anju. We shared all of our favourites (they added pork belly to the crispy tofu. It’s perfect!) & I’m already itching to go back. We rounded out the evening at ATP’s performance of Charlotte’s Web. It was a wonderful date night.
2. My work Christmas party lived up to its reputation & we had a great time with my wonderful coworkers. There were many drinks & lots of hilarious dance moves.
3. Our good friends returned from South America just in time for Market Collective & an outdoor winter pop up at Container Bar. H & I snuggled under blankets, enjoyed mulled wine & shared crispy crepes, while chatting with her bar manager. Such a cool group of guys running the show over there!
4. Dad & I enjoying my parents annual Christmas Cocktail Party. Good food, festive drinks, my favourite people.
5. We enjoyed our first day on the slopes at Lake Louise for our friends’ annual Ski Trip. It’s shaping up to be a pretty good year if this snow continues!
6. I started this Christmas Day 5 km Tradition a few years ago. The three of us are still the only participants to date.
7. We spent the holidays at my parents’ place in BC. Thanks for finding the weirdest Christmas crackers, mom. This picture is so greasy.
8. Boxing Day Skiing trumps shopping in our books. We spent the day at Panorama with my family. We’re the three best friends that anybody could ever have and we’ll never ever ever ever leave each other. Right guys?
9. & the final day of the year. We started our evening with a steak dinner & ended it at a house party with some of our closest friends.

Happy New Year everyone!

June in Instagram

Remember when I did a journal response about how life was hectic. Well we’re seven days into July & I’m only just posting this recap, so I think that’s still quite accurate! I feel like I just did the May recap. Where did this month go? Judging by my instagram, all we did was eat. Seriously, we ate a lot of delicious food this month. Or at least that’s what I mostly posted about. Nothing wrong with that right? We’re just a couple of foodies over here…

1. The first of three Anju meals. This one was a 13 course collaboration for the Chinatown Flood Rehabilitation Fund. Anju was one of three chefs who put on this delicious meal.
2. H & I went to a few early-morning spin classes. We grabbed coffee together at Analog afterwards. Definitely a wonderful way to start the day!
3. N & I celebrated five years together & what is probably the last time we’ll celebrate this date since we’ll have a new anniversary after this year. We went for a lovely dinner at Black Pig Bistro (the new kid in Bridgeland).
4. Anju dinner number two. I actually have some real photos of this & plan on blogging about it soon. We headed down to Test Kitchen for this wonderful meal with some lovely ladies. (That bone marrow risotto. Daaaaamn.)
5. Village Ice Cream recently celebrated two years! I couldn’t resist bringing home a half scoop of Root Beer with a half scoop of Salted Caramel. (My favourite combo!)
6. I won a Bridal basket from the Bay, which included this very sparkly (messy) bottle of Champagne.
7. The last Anju dinner. I know, we’re ridiculous, but we couldn’t pass up the chance to get our Gochujang fix.
8. The weather didn’t really cooperate for the “long weekend” , but we launched the sea doo anyway. A little cloud cover can’t stop us!
9. Of course, the day we were leaving, it was gorgeous. Isn’t that how it always works?

This weekend kicked off our crazy summer schedule with the first weekend of Stampede. From here on out, it’s go go go until we’re gone to Europe!

Eat Eat \ Poutine Crawl

A few weeks ago, one of my best friends scored two tickets to the 2014 Calgary Poutine Crawl. We’d both been anxiously awaiting the moment they were to go on sale, but she was one of the lucky 60 or so to snag a pair of tickets to the event. It literally sold out in less than 15 seconds – the first obvious sign that it was bound to be some special. I was obviously pretty bummed about it until her husband offered his ticket to me. Best wedding gift so far, Z!

Poutine Day arrived and we excitedly met at Wurst at noon. I’ve eaten (as well as enjoyed many a beer) in this great establishment & have always enjoyed the experience. There’s something about a beer hall that just says good times to me! We ordered drinks & waited for things to start, discussing whether we thought it would be something off their menu (they have great poutine) or something new.

Karen Richards, the organizer, welcomed us before the chef took the stage to talk to us the thoughts behind the day’s creation. They had decided to go with the poutine on their menu for a very good reason – they’d spent a long time creating it & think it’s great. I have to agree; it is a great poutine. They start with duck fat fries (never a bad idea, if you ask me) & add cheese curds, green peas, speck sauce, duck confit, & truffle oil.

This poutine is rich so I was grateful for the smaller portion. I have & would eat this poutine again though – the fries are great (duck fat, people!), the cheese curds squeak, & the “gravy” has a great flavour. For me, those three things are the most important components of a great poutine, & Wurst nails it.

Once we’d finished up, we got onto one of the two party buses & headed off to National 17. Not only is National one of my favourite bars in Calgary (another beer hall. What can I say? They’re just so great!), but also this next poutine would be the creation of one of my favourite chefs, Roy Oh. This poutine was by far the one H & I were most excited for, being Anju fangirls. (We’re anxiously awaiting the opening of his new restaurant – Anju 2.0!) Roy’s creation was a very cool Korean-Inspired “poutine” featuring chewy rice cakes, bacon, cucumber, gochujang sauce, & squeaky cheese curds. This is definitely not traditional poutine here, but those flavours. Seriously, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. The experience was over far too soon for me.

Back to the bus – we were headed off the beaten path, to Naina’s Kitchen, in a more industrial area of Calgary. I regularly frequent the Farmer’s Market across the street, but haven’t tried the stuffed burgers this place is famous for yet. It’s a small, unassuming little spot, but we all squished in. This one was a feast, & probably the most traditional to that point, featuring fries, cheese curds, meatballs, caramelized onions, & a sweet gravy. The meatballs were fantastic & I enjoyed the hint of maple syrup in the gravy, but the fries & curds weren’t my favourite. This was probably for the best though. If I had finished that monster, I don’t think I’d have managed the rest of the crawl (without actually crawling!).

It was back downtown for our next stop – The Libertine. Halfway through & I was getting a little full & a lot sleepy. Luckily, they have some great beers on tap, so we quickly solved one of those problems. Their team presented their poutine in little takeout boxes. I was excited to see apple coleslaw on top (I’m sure I’m almost alone in my excitement over a good coleslaw). Underneath we found fried chicken, double smoked pork belly (magical words), & of course, curds, gravy, & fries. I think the pork belly (& the slaw for me – I know I’m alone in this) were the stars for me here. The fries, curds, & gravy were all delicious though too so it was an all around well-executed poutine!

H & I had reached waddle status at this point, so she suggested we walk the few blocks to downtownfood. It was a great idea & we even arrived before the bus. downtownfood was the 2013 Calgary Poutine Crawl winner. In fact, they seem to put out some pretty amazing food for most of these types of things so I was definitely looking forward to their take.

They started us off with a lemon sorbetto to cleanse our palate “after all those inferior poutines we’d tried.” It was a clever tactic. This sorbetto was arguably one of the best palate cleansers I’ve had. Next they came around with the poutine. Servers removed funny plastic lids to uncover a steaming bowl of deliciousness, which included bacon, mushrooms, house-made cheese curds, duck-confit gravy, & delicious fries. These curds hit it out of the park for me. I could have eaten a bowlful of them. Seriously, I love curds. I also loved the flavour of the gravy, despite it being a bit on the more liquidy side. All around amazing flavours.

& then they followed it up with dessert: macarons. I’m such a sucker for macarons. Well played, downtownfood.


Last stop on our tour was a little pub across the river, Oak Tree Tavern. Wild Rose Brewery put us all in great spirits with a free beer. The poutine that followed was the first vegetarian option of the day, featuring crispy fries, cheese curds, & a sage mushroom gravy. The flavours of this poutine were great again, but I found myself wishing there were more curds. Yes, even after 6 poutines, I wanted more cheese curds. (I know, I’m a freak.) Oak Tree Tavern was a great venue to end that day on. We stayed around for a few extra beers & waited for our stomachs to shrink back to normal.

Overall, Anju’s poutine was my favourite for Roy’s creativity as well as the amazing combination of flavours, but I can’t say I was disappointed with any of the poutines we tasted. The votes were tallied the next day & downtownfood came out on top for the second year in a row – a well deserved win. All the participants did an incredible job & I would highly recommend this event to anyone who likes poutine. Or maybe I wouldn’t – I’d like to score tickets myself next year.

Get in my belly!

I think it’s time I got back to blogging and what better way to start than with a list (I love lists)? Not only do I love lists, but I love food. I spend most of my day either eating or thinking about eating, so it seems only natural to have a restaurant list. I’ve tried to be as thorough as possible (food is no joke, people!), but I’m sure I’ve missed a few and I’m definitely open to suggestions, so if you notice a great restaurant hasn’t made the cut, let me know!

 I realize this list is insane. I will potentially never actually complete it, but the goal is to one day say that I’ve checked all these places off.

I’ve crossed off the ones I’ve already been to. There are some that I went to a very long time ago (so long that I barely remember them except that they were delicious and I want to go back). I’ve decided to underline anything that I haven’t been to in the last five years (so anything I haven’t been to with le boy?). Honestly, what did I know five years ago? (nothing!)  There are also some places that I cannot reasonably afford (Blowfish, Il Sogno…) right now, but I want to go to someday. (And hey, maybe someone will treat me, hinthint). So, without further ado, here is my wish list:

Restaurant Wish List:

Charcut (Downtown)
Beatniq + Piqniq (Downtown) CLOSED

Craft Beer Market (Downtown)
Galaxie Diner (11th)
Buffalo Cafe (Downtown)
Red’s Diner (Beltline)
Double Zero Pizza (Stephen Avenue)

District (Downtown)
Bonterra Trattoria (Downtown)
Bumpy’s (Downtown)
Holy Grill (Downtown)

River Cafe (Eau Claire)
West (Downtown)
Taste (Downtown)

Raw Bar at Hotel Arts (Downtown)
Anju (Downtown)
La Chaumiere (Downtown)
Blowfish Sushi Lounge (Downtown)

Big Cheese Poutinerie (17th)
Una (17th)

Cibo (17th)
1410 Bier Haus (17th)
Ship + Anchor (17th)
Buttercream Bake Shoppe (17th)
Cafe Beano (17th)
Tubby Dog (17th)
The Coup (17th)
Farm (17th)
Cilantro (17th)

Model Milk (Fried Chicken Mondays?) (17th)
Brava Bistro (17th)

Ox and Angela (17th)
The Living Room (17th)

Without Papers (Inglewood)
Eat Eat (Inglewood)
Capo Restaurant (Inglewood)

Jacqueline Suzanne’s (Inglewood)
Sugo (Inglewood)

Rouge (Inglewood)

Wurst Restaurant + Beer Hall (Mission)
Vin Room (Mission)

Wurst Brunch (Mission)
Mercato (Mission)
Bistro 2210 (Mission)
Bistro 2210 Brunch (Mission)

Belmont Diner (Marda Loop)
Phil & Sebastian (Marda Loop)

Cassis (Casel Marche)

Chef’s Table at Kensington Riverside Inn (Kensington)
Dairy Lane (Kensington)
Crave Cupcakes (Kensington)
Kensington Wine Bar (Kensington)
Pucinella’s (Kensington)

Muse (Kensington)
Brasserie (Kensington)

Il Sogno (Bridgeland)
Tazza (Bridgeland)
The Main Dish (Bridgeland)

AKA Wine Bar (Bridgeland)
Diner Deluxe (Bridgeland)

OEB (Bridgeland)
Blue Star Diner (Bridgeland)
Peters’ Drive-In (16th)
JoJo’s BBQ (Edmonton Trail)

 NOtaBLE (Bowness)
Lazy Loaf + Kettle (Parkdale)
Green Beanery (Parkdale)

Wa’s Japanese Restaurant (NW)

Rocky’s Burger Bus (SE)
Alloy (SE)
Karma (SE)
Smoke House (Ogden)

Village Brewery (Ogden)

Wild Rose Brewery (Currie Barracks)

Caesars (SE/SW)
Nellie’s (various)

Food Trucks:

Alley Burger

Perogy Boyz
The Noodle Bus
The Might Skillet
The Naaco Truck
Cheezy Bizness
Red Wagon Diner
Holy Crepe
Shogun Teppanyaki Grill
Steak Out Truck
Fiasco Gelato
Fries and Dolls
Los Compadres

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