Saturday, December 17, 2011

Glo McNeil wins the Recipes to Riches contest!

The winner of the R to R contest was announced on the finale of the show this past Wednesday. Winner? Glo McNeil and her Luscious Lemon Pudding Cakes. Although the recipe was very was also very tasty. Who doesn't love lemons? Check out the finale episode here.

Who do you think should've won? I didn't vote for Glo myself, but I had a feeling she would...just based on the number of supporters on Facebook and her story and her personality, probably helped her win this contest. Regardless, great job Glo!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Recipes to Riches: time to vote for your favourite category!

Now the time has come. If you have been following Food Network Canada's Recipes to Riches, here's your chance to have a say in your favourite category! Originally 7 categories, it is now down to 6 as Sonya and her gluten-free cookies were exempt from the grand prize. The category/person with the most votes wins $250,000. Now that's a lot of cash to boot! I know who I'm voting for...Go here to vote! You have until Friday, December 9th, 11:59EST before the polls close.

Recipes to Riches: Week Seven

This is it! This is the very last episode before Canada gets to vote on who gets the grand prize of $250,000! Who will it be? Will it be this gentleman and his "slow and low pulled pork"?

Two packages or pork (200g each) were included in this week's R to R.
The final R to R episode was in the category on main entrees. This is the big one! The entree is the star of a meal! The three contestants this week were Eva and her lobster mac 'n' cheese, Robert and his pulled-pork meat and Scott with his braised lamb shanks and orzo pasta.

This was another disappointing episode for me (in terms of who won). Robert and his "slow and low" pulled pork won against Eva and Scott, which I think had better entree items. Although Scott got eliminated during the batch-up contest because he didn't have a clear recipe written down (he eyeballed everything), Eva had a good stab as the winner. Although I'm sure the judges have it down right; not many people would pay a hefty price tag for a premium product in a super market. But I know I would--it'll always be cheaper than eating out!

I cooked the pork for dinner last night so that we could get a taste of this before we voted for the final winner (the polls open on December 7th, 12:01am EST). I already knew that I wouldn't vote for this person, probably because I have had pulled pork many times...and although it takes a while to make (slow roasted for 12 hours), I wanted to vote for something different. Nevertheless, the pork was very tender, and perfectly seasoned with the right amount of tang.

Wanna watch the final episode of R to R? Go here!

Recipes to Riches: Week Six

Isn't that cute? The colourful container contains 500mL of the yummy stuff!
 The second last episode has arrived...and I can't believe it's almost over! This week's episode is all about ice cream. Mmm. The three contestants this week are Mark with his teapolitan (green and earl grey tea) layered ice cream cake, Rosy with her creamy kulfi ice cream and Audrey with her s'mores ice cream treat.

Interesting challenge this was because the one girl I thought would get eliminated during the batch-up contest, didn't. Instead, Mark, the guy I wanted to win, got turfed. And poor guy, you have to watch this episode to see this! During the batch-up contest, he pours his boiling hot ice cream mixture into the ice cream machine...only to find out that it was a little too full. The boiling hot mixture poured right back on to him. I felt so bad for him! And he didn't win. 

Now left with Rosy and her creamy kulfi and Audrey with her s'mores ice cream treat. Winner? Rosy and her decadent East Indian dessert, creamy kulfi. I believe some of you have had this at Indian restaurants. The texture is almost sponge like, with a very rich and dense cream sauce flavoured with pistachios and cardamom. Rosy put a new spin to this by making it an ice cream (she had to do this on the batch-contest because it wasn't freezing fast enough). Turns out, it was for the better!
So yummy!
I'm glad that Rosy won this one (aside from Mark); her ice cream is unique because it's a spin on a traditional East Indian dessert. It has a very refreshing aftertaste because of the cardamom, which I love. Audrey had a yummy product but nothing we haven't tried yet. Also, she had quite the bossy personality...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Recipes to Riches: Week Five

Week five of R to R! This week's episode was an interesting one: sweet and savoury snacks. The three contestants on this show were Sonya and her gluten-free "smart cookie", Donna and her breakfast cookie and Natasha with her s'mores treats.

After all their hard work, it was only down to the two contestants: Sonya and Donna with their distinct cookies. Sonya branded her cookie as the "smart" cookie; however Tony Chapman, one of the panel judges who is the market expert on the show, recommended changing the name if he wins (they didn't really). Donna's cookie on the other hand sounded REALLY interesting. She is originally from Calgary but moved to Vancouver to obtain her PhD. After missing her those 'Stampeder' breakfasts in Calgary before the famed annual Stampede every summer, she would make these cookies in lieu of that. 
Sonya's gluten free smart cookie: puffed corn, crisp brown rice, quinoa, coconut and chocolate chips
Thinking that Donna would win, she did not. Instead, the judges went for Sonya's gluten free "smart cookie". After watching the show, a message popped up indicating the following: "Due to unforeseen circumstances after the taping of the show, we were informed that Sonya has an immediate family member working for the show; therefore she will not qualify for the grand prize." Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat? You mean you guys didn't do some pre-screening before you chose the winners? No waivers to sign to indicate that very issue? I think the runner-up totally should have deserved the chance to nab the spotlight. She has something good going on. 

As for Sonya's cookies, you hardly know that they are gluten free. I wouldn't be able to tell. Although they are tasty and they cater to a good population who have gluten intolerance (or don't), I found the cookies to be a tad to sweet. What'd you think?

Go here to see for yourself!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Recipes to Riches: Week Four

Yes! We are getting there.

Now this week's R to R episode is Savoury Pies. Mmmm. Doesn't that sound perfect for a dreary winter's day? This time they had an interesting array of choices from the contestants-a good mix of different cultures. The three contestants were Wayne and his salt fish (cod) and ackee pie, Melaney and her Bannock Hazelnut pie and Tikka with her vegan pot pie. 

Winner? Melaney and her interesting bannock hazelnut pie. Now...when I first saw that she won, I had thought what an interesting and unique sounding dish! Well, I made a tiny mistake. First of all, the bannock portion of this recipe had to be prepared by you. A packet of the bannock mix had to be mixed with three tablespoons of water; and kneaded into a small ball. Wrap it around plastic wrap and let sit for a few minutes. After you let it sit, you must roll it out like a thin piece of pie crust. After you bake the pie separately for 30 minutes, you must top the pie with the dough and let it bake for another 30 minutes. The pie is a vegetarian dish so thinking quick, I knew it wouldn't be enough protein for my boyfriend and I. I quickly sauteed up some pork with soy sauce for seasoning (BIG mistake) and topped it on the pie while it baked for another 30 minutes.

Sweet potato bannock on top, with a savoury hazelnut pie filling with my pork (oops!)
Let's just say that pork and soy sauce does NOT go well with the pie. Very odd tasting. However, I tasted the filling beforehand it actually doesn't have that much flavouring. Though it sounded very unique (hazelnuts with the stew and sweet potato bannock), I didn't care too much for the dish. I feel like the salt fish and ackee pie could of been the winner of this one. But who am I to judge?

Go here to watch the episode and see for yourself!

Recipes to Riches: Week Three

Aren't the charicatures great?!
 I am slowly catching up! Don't you worry. 

Week three of R to R was competing for the category of appetizers. The three contestants were Diana with her stuffed olives, John with his grilled chicken grenades (skewers) and Sarah with her savoury mini tourtieres (mini meat pies). 

I'm still a bit leery on the winner; John and his grilled chicken grenades won on this episode. While his grenades were tasty--which consisted of bacon wrapped with chicken with cheese and jalapeno peppers topped with apple jelly--I just found that this was something already on the market and one could make without great difficulty. The rest of the contestants had yummy appetizers too; but they couldn't match up on flavour when they did the batch-up contest. 
Chicken Grenades!
All in all, my boyfriend and I enjoyed it. However, make sure you bake it on tin foil because the jelly burns on the regular baking metal surface...and it ain't fun getting it off!

To watch the episode, go here!

Recipes to Riches: Week Two

Aren't I terrible? I haven't even been keeping on this...and I've been meaning too! :-S
Nevertheless, I had the fortunate opportunity to try mostly all the Recipes to Riches products, minus the most recent one. Happy reading!

For week two's R to R, the three contestants were Jacqui and her Rock 'n' Peach Bliss cake, Crystal and her Orange Chocolate Silk Cake and Melissa with her Banana Chocolate Cake. The winner? Jacqui and her Rock 'n' Peach Bliss cake. And how delicious it is! It's a multi-layered cake with caramelized brandied peaches, cheesecake, vanilla cake and a graham cracker crust. 

I've never had cheesecake and cake combined together and I thought it was a great concept. Delicious. Me and my whole family enjoyed it very much, too!

To check out the episode, go here to watch!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Donuts, revamped!

This past long weekend, my boyfriend and I decided to head down to good ol' Calgary just to get away for a quick over night trip. I love Calgary. There are always new foodie spots to hit and there are many interesting restaurants/bakeries popping up. We stayed in the southwest part of downtown, home to some unique restaurants, bakeries and shops, one of them being the brand new Jelly modern doughnuts. 

I definitely recall reading about this new bakery in the August/September issue of the Where magazine. I always pick up this magazine when I'm in town because it always gives great reviews and recommendations on restaurants/diners/bakeries scattered across the city. I'm not too big of a fan of doughnuts, but I was curious as to what they meant by "modern". My boyfriend's eyes lit up when he heard 'doughnuts', so we decided to give this place a try. Even better: when we looked up the location of Jelly on our GPS, lo and behold, it was right beside our hotel!

After checking out of our hotel, we made our way to Jelly. The exterior of the bakery was very eye-catching: Jelly is in bright pink, as well as their logo, a doughnut of course, with white-very simple.

The showcase of doughnuts was amazing! I felt like a kid in a candy store. An astonishing array of unusual doughnut flavours filled the showcase-lemon, s'mores, peanut butter, madagascar bourbon vanilla, coconut, apple pie, maple bacon (what we came for!) and many more. You can check them out here.

I was trying to get a shot of the menu, as you can see that didn't work out so well (still not bad for a camera phone!)
Look at those doughnuts!

Look again! They even have bite sized doughnuts in the same flavours of the original sized ones-except they call them 3 bite doughnuts. Cute!
The individual prices of the doughnuts were $2.25, which is a little pricey considering they are just doughnuts; however, their catch is that they use local, organic and only the best ingredients possible to make the donuts. The fillings are hand-filled and everything is made fresh that day. To include some examples, the bacon they use is from Valbella meats in Canmore (which I absolutely love!) Vital Green and Chinook Honey. Their doughnuts are preservative-free, which means they are best consumed within 24 hours.

We opted for 1/2 dozen (1 dozen seemed like too many, considering I don't have much of a sweet tooth). We chose maple bacon (of course!), lemon, s'mores, peanut butter, coconut, madagascar bourbon vanilla. 

Our flavours L to R clockwise: S'mores, bourbon vanilla, maple bacon, lemon, coconut and peanut butter. All sooooo delectably delicious.
We first devoured the maple could we not? Although most can agree that maple and bacon go together very well, and they do, my boyfriend and I agreed that there was not enough bacon bits on the doughnut. There wasn't enough of the satisfying bacon taste we get every Sunday morning. Other than that, it was yummy. 

So far, we've tried s'mores, peanut butter and madagascar bourbon vanilla. The s'mores was my favourite so far (they even make their own marshmallows!), but the other ones were very tasty as well. I gave the lemon doughnut to my dad because he loves lemons; the coconut doughnut is on the menu as tomorrow's dessert. 

They even make birthday donuts!
Any of you planning a trip to Calgary anytime soon? Make sure to include Jelly modern doughnuts as your next sweet tooth venue because it's worth the trip there. We'll definitely be making a second trip!

Jelly modern doughnuts is located at 100 1414 8 street S.W., Calgary, Alberta

Verdict: sooo scrumptious!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Recipes to Riches: Week One

(I'm a bit behind ...) Week one of Recipe to Riches - Glo McNeil of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia wins the first one. She was up against three other contestants: A gentleman from Montreal with his Maple Pudding Chomeur and a food blogger from Burnaby with her Canadian Pie in a Jar. Although Glo's "Luscious Lemon Pudding" won out against the three, I was very interested in the other two desserts. Perhaps I should give the recipes a try? Check them out here. If you're interested in watching the video, check it out here.

Time for the taste test...

The packaging. Cute heh?

Each in a individual plastic ramekin.

Heat it up in the micro for 1 minute and...voila! You have "Luscious Lemon Pudding" 

Verdict: these cute little desserts were delicious! Although the recipe is quite simple, the judges are right that it could be a casual or fancy dessert.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My two favourite things collaborate: President's Choice & Food Network Canada

For those of you who love food and watch Food Network on a daily basis, you probably have heard of the show "Recipe To Riches" in which contestants across Canada (I'm still choked that I didn't hear about this until a few weeks ago!) entered their recipes. The judges scoured across Canada from Coast to Coast, choosing the top three finalists for each of the 7 categories (from desserts to savoury pies ). Within each category, all three individuals compete in a "batch-up challenge" in which the three contestants chosen must make their recipe enough for 100+ or 200+ depending on the challenge. Once the judges have a taste at the recipe, one person is eliminated from that round. The remaining two contestants compete against each other in a marketing challenge in which they pair up with two of Toronto's top marketing firms to market their products. The contestant with the best consumer response, name and marketing idea wins $25,000, their recipe made into a PC product for Canada to try and are automatically qualified for the grand prize of $250,000.

 There are 7 categories to compete in; the first two contestants already won for their dessert. They won $25,000 and their recipe made into a PC product and made avaiable to Canada the following weekend. The final 7 contestants are up against $250,000 and their recipe made into a permanent PC product. I already tried the "Luscious Lemon Pudding Cakes" and "Rockin' Peach Cheesecake" and they are delicious! However, my question is--why didn't I hear about this contest?  Check it out here:

Monday, October 3, 2011

Finally! Vietnamese food near my house. Cheap? Not so much. Good? Average.

Last Sunday mid-afternoon, my boyfriend and I were feeling pretty sluggish. After taking an afternoon snooze, we decided it was time to head out of the house to grab some groceries. We haven't had lunch yet but decided we wanted Vietnamese food. We were thinking of heading down to the usual, Pho Hoa in Chinatown, but I suddenly remembered my mom mentioning to me that there was a new Vietnamese restaurant in the southside.

It's located in the Century Park Plaza, just off of 111 street and 23rd Avenue. It's called Spring Roll Kitchen. It's located beside the sales office of the Century Park condos on 111 street and off of 23rd avenue.

The interior of the restaurant is spectacular-very spacious and roomy. We entered through the back door without knowing it (oops) but the first thing I noticed was the beautiful bamboo centre piece. It separated the large dining area from the booster seats from the regular tables. We were seated near the front entrance, right in front of the giant graffiti-like art on the wall. I thought that was a very creative idea-combining graffiti art with Vietnamese culture.

Beautiful interor!

Awesome graffiti.
Now on to the food...I'll have to be honest I wasn't expressed with the food. Especially for the price I paid, I was expecting something a bit bigger. At $10 for a small bowl, this is probably the most I've paid for pho in Edmonton. I ordered the regular beef pho-thin slices of beef, rice noodles, toppied with thin white onions and green onions, the usual. I found the soup to be too bland-not salty enough. I walked up to the cashier to ask for 'salt' but due to language barriers, she gave me a napkin instead. Thankfully, our waitress inside the kitchen saw and ran out quickly to see what I needed. The extra salt made it taste better, I think. 
My steaming bowl of pho.
 My boyfriend opted for the pork and shrimp rice noodle bowl. At nearly $10, he also said it wasn't anything spectacular.

My boyfriend's rice noodle bowl.
After tasting the restaurant, I am indifferent now as to having a Vietnamese pho joint on my side of the town. However, I am definitely willing to give it a second try. Things could taste better the second time around.

Spring Roll Kitchen is located on 2395-111 Street, in the Century Park Plaza. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A treat from down east: the McLobster!

Tada...the McLobster!

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

[I apologize for the long absence. I've been enjoying my summer way too much. But I've got some great ones in store!]

I finally had the chance-and I do mean finally-to try the famed McLobster down east. Last year when I first went to Prince Edward Island, the season just ended and I missed it by a few days. This year, we went back earlier so I was able to catch it in time.

The McLobster is like any other sandwich on the McDonald's menu. It comes with a medium drink and medium fries or a side salad.

And how was it you ask? Well, being a big fan of fresh lobster, this sandwich was delicious! For McDonalds to offer fresh seafood is already a feat, but to have it in a place where those red crusteaceans are abundant and fresh was amazing. The lobster meat was ripped to smaller pieces, mixed in with chopped celery and a light dressing that tasted like mayonnaise, put on a small white sandwich roll.

I think I had the McLobster about 3 times during my week-long stay. I already can't wait to go back next year!

Friday, July 22, 2011

On vacation...

To everyone who reads my blog:
Sorry for the late update but I've been on holidays for two weeks. I promise I'll have some great food posts here from both California and Prince Edward Island!

Happy Summer!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

New waffle cart on the streets of Edmonton!

Last week, I went for a walk with a friend during lunch and spotted a new venue on the street: A new waffle cart! I took a quick glance, but did not purchase one as I had eaten prior.


I went back this week with a co-worker and it was there again! My co-worker and I were curious as we were hungry so we decided this time to make a purchase. As I chatted with the vendor, Wannawaffel first originated in Victoria, British Columbia. According to their website, the business is relatively new. It was started in 2009 by Belgian family. The owners of this waffle cart in Edmonton recently got approval to puchase the franchise here.

At $4 a waffle, it's quite pricey.


Eva Sweets might be their only competitor in the city (that I'm aware of). Though the flavour of the waffle was sweet and aromatic, the carmelization of the pearl sugar wasn't as prominent as the waffles from Eva Sweets. The Wannawaffel was less dense, and alot smaller than the Eva Sweets waffle I am used to. At $4 a piece, I was a bit hesitant to pay the price. Nevertheless, it was worth it to try it once. Eva Sweets upped their $3 a waffle last year to $3.50 this year-which isn't a huge difference. Also: the wax paper got stuck to the sugar on the waffle, which was slightly inconvenient.


I will give Wannawafel credit for their cute and innovative cart, but I am still a loyalist. Eva Sweets waffles all the way.

Verdict: pretty scrumptious!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Downtown City Market now in full swing!

I am sooo happy that the downtown farmers' market is now in full swing. My boyfriend and I walked there last weekend and what a splendid day it was. A few new products I tried: MoNA organic mushrooms, Irvings Cumberland sausage patties, English cukes from Gull Valley, turkey jerky from Greens Eggs & Ham, and the usual, Eva Sweets waffles and kettle popcorn. My boyfriend isn't particularly fond of farmers' markets (he can list up to 7 reasons), but he agreed to keep me company regardless.

I took my mom for the first time today and absolutely loved it! Although it was a bit windy, the sun was shining. There were also various performers today in on centre stage for the Chinese festival, right on the intersection of 104 street and 101 avenue; Chinese lion dance dragons and fancy dress performances. There were also martial arts performers showing each of their own special moves. Very interesting. Unfortunately, I did not have my fancy camera with me so I wasn't able to capture any shots. The next event is the Al Fresco Block Party, June 11th.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Soda Jerks-a confusing concept of being modern and retro

My boyfriend and I decided to go out for lunch yesterday. I still had a Good News coupon for the Noodlemaker, so we decided to go there. It was a good thing I read the coupon closely because it said to make reservations. Upon calling, I found out the restaurant wasn't open-they are closed Sundays. With that idea shot, I remember reading an article in the Edmonton Journal about a new restaurant serving up delicious burgers and 31 different flavours of sodas. Without hesitation, my boyfriend and I headed to Soda Jerks.

I am not sure when this restaurant opened on the city. It is located right by the Best Buy in the Westpointe Centre, just off of 100 avenue and 175 street. I don't drive by the part of the city too often, but I believe it is relatively new as their main sign above the door is still vinyl, fastened with gromits.  Upon entering the restaurant, it takes on the atmosphere of the former vendor (East Side Mario's and Ric's Grill, according to a reader). I had imagined this restaurant to be a retro-feel sort of diner, 50's or 60's type diner. Instead, it was a diner with a modern twist with barely any residue of retro-ness. The focal point of the restaurant was definitely the display of sodas. Right when you walk into the restaurant, there is a wall-display of 31 different types of sodas your left, ranging from Jones, Boylan to Fentimans. 
The display of sodas: an astonishing array of them.
Walk over the corner to your right, on your left is a continuation of more sodas. My boyfriend and I were seated in the dining part of the restaurant, which was made up of comfy booths. The dark interior of the booths, accompanied by the wood panelling on the side of the walls gave the restaurant a modern feel. 
My interesting botanical soda pop.

Now to the important part: the food! Upon first glance at the menu, I have to be honest that it didn't sound anything special to me. The food being served was pretty basic; the usual burgers (they call them sandwiches on the menu), salads, build your own (sandwiches). For drinks, I ordered the Fentimans Dandelion & Burdock soda, while my boyfriend ordered Jones Bubble Gum flavoured soda. I enjoyed my unique botanical soda-it tasted much like Jagermeister, minus the alcohol. My boyfriend's soda was good, but it was a bit too artificial tasting for me. I couldn't decide what to get, but I know I didn't want beef again as I had a huge steak the other day. I decided to order The Original burger, which consisted of housemade beef patty (I got turkey instead) topped with corned beef, havarti, mixed greens, tomato, red onion, sauerkraut and roasted garlic mayo; served on a sesame seed bun. My boyfriend opted for the Cowboy burger which consisted of housemade beef patty topped with cheddar cheese, chili, smoked bacon, an onion ring and coleslaw; served on a sesame seed bun.
My Original Burger.

The Cowboy Burger.

I have a tendency to ramble on about my food experiences so I'll just cut to the chase on this one: my boyfriend and I were disappointed with the food. Not that it wasn't tasty, but it just didn't taste like anything special to us. My turkey burger didn't have any turkey taste to it and none of the flavours in the burger really stood out. Though my boyfriend didn't mind his, he agreed that no particular flavour in the burger stood out. The prices were overpriced, too. $3 for a Jones soda... We can get Jones soda half that price (well, a little less than half) at any speciality grocery store. With that being said, we felt like the restaurant conveyed a confusing concept of retro-modern, without any retro feeling at all, except for the sodas. The restaurant seems like it is trying to portray a retro experience in a modern way. With nothing special to the menu and without a clear concept to focus on, I'm not sure how long this restaurant will last. 

Verdict: not-so-scrumptious!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Feeding my macaron obsession...

It came with a flavour booklet, too!

I apologize for those of you who follow me on my blog. I have been bad and haven't posted anything for weeks! Aside from being busy, I almost forgot that I have eaten at a few new places and didn't even think about blogging about them. I am silly. Anyway, to break that habit, here's a little treat. My friend was in Montreal last week and she offered to buy me some macarons since she was getting them as well ( a big fan as well). How could I pass up on that offer? These macarons, from La maison du macaron, were considerably larger than Duchess (I forgot to take a picture, even though I had Duchess macarons in my fridge! Of course I realized that after I ate them all). The Montreal macarons were very similiar in size to the ones I had in Calgary. They were good, but I found the fillings to be less buttery and creamy than the ones at Duchess. Nevertheless, I was still impressed. And for $17/dozen, that works out to be ~$1.42 each which isn't bad at all.

Flavours from L to R-strawberry & rhubarb, raspberry, lemon, hazelnut, cafe, pistachio, coconut, chocolate, maple & peach, mango & amarula, green tea and salted caramel. My favourite was salted caramel, mango & amarula and maple & peach!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Food & drink after work at Corso 32

We went out after work on a Friday to celebrate a friend's belated birthday. After doing some restaurant research, the birthday girl decided to go to Corso 32, the new restaurant opened by Red Star's chef, Daniel Costa.

Corso 32 opened a few months ago in the heart of downtown on Jasper Avenue (10345-Jasper Avenue to be exact). Seems like they have been pretty busy the last little while. I walked past once during the evening and they were packed full. And this time, my first time going, will also be packed as my friend tried making a reservation for a table of four, but was only able to get seating at the communal table.
Can you speak Italian?
The restaurant is very small in width and narrow in length. With modern furnishings of plastic white chairs, wooden chopping board-like table tops, simple yet sophisticated lighting and a large picture mural of Daniel Costa's family in Italy, it is a relaxed environment. The restaurant is named after his family's home address in Italy-and what a great picture it is! The restaurant filled up quite quickly as friends trickled in one by one as well as other guests. Not long after, the restaurant was at it's full capacity.

I started the night off by ordering the corso campari-a 'before' drink that consisted of vodka, limoncello (that's what got me), campari, juice of a blood orange (that's what also got me), squeeze of lime, rocks. I'll have to be honest that it sounded a lot better than it tasted. It was more bitter than I thought it would be and was rather a small drink priced at $10. We all decided to share appetizers amongst the four of us. Their menu changes frequently,every few weeks, depending on the season and the produce so the returning customer will never get bored of their menu. We opted for the smoked pork arancini, oyster mushrooms & fontina, house made goat ricotta, maldon sea salt on crostini and stinging nettle & egg yolk ravioli, parmigiano.
Clockwise from top: stinging nettle with ravioli, smoke arancini cheeseballs and crostini.
The smoked pork arancini appetizer was nothing like I expected: it was deep fried. There were about 7 of them shaped into balls. They were fresh from the deep fryer so I couldn't bite into it right away, but upon the first bite, it was alright. It was too salty and there seemed to be small bits of rice mixed into the oyster mushroom and fontina cheese filling. I don't think I would order that next time. Next up was the stinging nettle & egg yolk ravioli.  I was very curious about the stinging nettle as I've seen the episode of Glutton for Punishment.Bob Blumer was to eat as much stinging nettle in a short duration of time. Stinging nettle has a chemical in the leaves that emits 'stinging' sensations when chewed in your mouth. However, I had heard that once cooked, this chemical gets broken down so there isn't a stinging sensation anymore. And true that was. When I bit into the ravioli, the nettle simply tasted like tougher spinach, while the ravioli burst into my mouth with egg yolk. It was tasty, but there really wasn't anything special about it. The last appetizer to try was the house made goat ricotta on crostinis. The crostini was toasted crisp, drizzled with olive oil. The house made goat ricotta was delicious, with a hint of sweetness.
My yummy gnocchi!
I wasn't going to order a supper entree as I had eaten a late lunch prior to eating the appetizers. However, when my friend's dishes arrived, my mouth started watering which triggered me to order what one of my friend's got-pan fried gnocchi with black kale and peccorino topped with spicy crumbs. THIS was delicious. As one of my friends said, we usually get gnocchi with sauce. This was a dry version-but it was probably one of the best versions I've ever had of gnocchi. The house-made gnocchi (they make all their pasta in house) was fried to perfection on the outside, soft on the inside. The texture of the pasta was excellent too;cheesy with the right amount of potato. The black kale was pan fried (or deep fried?) so that it was crisp to perfection. Topped with shaved peccorino cheese and spicy crumbs, this dish was my favourite so far.

My friends agreed that Corso 32 didn't do much for them-mainly because their food was too simple and expensive. I agree that their menu is a bit over-priced, but if you take into account that many of their items on their menu are house-made (cured meats, pastas, and some cheeses) then one's perception might change. Their food might sound like it is too simple but this is Daniel Costa's focus: simple Italian comfort food, made with the freshest, most local ingredients. I am willing to return a second time.

Verdict: scrumptious!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My dream of cream puffs came true!

Fresh'n natural cream puffs!
I forgot to take a picture of mine because I devoured it too quickly! :-S

If you are a fan of cream puffs, then you'll be happy to learn that the Japanese franchise, Beard Papa's, has opened in West Edmonton Mall. This may not be news for you, but it was for me. I learned in Only Here for the Food that Beard Papa's has already been opened for a staggering 2 months! How could I have not known this?! Anyway, without hesitation, I ventured there this past Tuesday as I was in W.E.M for a concert. To my surprise, the cashier informed me that it was 'Toonie Tuesday'. All cream puffs were only $2! How perfect! I got one for the go, and hey, what the heck, one for later on as well. They were delicious. And boy, am I happy that BP's has made it's way to E-town.

Verdict: soooo scrumptious!

Beard Papa's is located on the main level, near the ice rink, right behind the Body Shop towards the north side.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Downtown Dining Week Part II: Niche for Dinner

Sorry for the delay...I had other things to do :-S

My friend and I decided to partake in Downtown Dining Week on a Thursday, but given her change of schedule, we went on a Wednesday instead. The both of us agreed that the menu of Niche sounded superb.  

It is a tiny downtown eatery located right beneath the Hardwood Plaza complex just off of Jasper Avenue and 110 street (formerly Hardwood Cafe). It was a perfect location for me to have dinner that night as  work is a stone's throw away and indeed I was hungry after work. My friend and I got there early and we had no reservations. I called earlier in the day to reserve a table for the both of us. No one answered but eventually went to voicemail. The voicemail message indicated that they were no longer taking reservations as Downtown Dining Week was superbusy. And given that it is only a 32-seater restaurant, it's no wonder.

My friend arrived first and I arrived a few minutes later. We were seated right by the window close to the bar. The waitress arrived shortly to explain that this table that we were seated as was already reserved for a party at 7:00pm. All their tables were completely booked, but it wasn't until after 7:00pm would these people start showing up. My friend and I agreed that she didn't exactly make us feel welcome...and we understood that she had the table booked, but her tone wasn't exactly 'friendly'. She then told us that the kitchen doesn't start serving food until 5:30pm and it was just a little past 5:00pm when she told us. Our stomachs were growling with hunger, while we contemplated whether we should stay here or not. If the menu didn't sound as good as it did, we would of bolted out the door as we didn't really feel welcomed at all...however, we decided to stick with the original plan.

The Downtown Dining Menu consisted of a soup or salad/main entree/dessert.  The appetizers consisted of yellow lentil soup with braised pork or quinoa salad with roasted vegetables and spinach in a lemon tahini vinaigrette. The entrees consisted of Spring Creek braised beef cheeks in a wild mushroom sauce tossed with broad egg noodles; Confit of Brome Lake Duck with golden mashed potatoes with lemon thyme gravy; roasted pork loin in a blackberry gastrique; or curried cauliflower with sundried apricots and wild rice. And don't forget dessert-salted lemon brownie served with a lemon honey yogurt cheese.

I opted for the quinoa salad while my friend chose the lentil soup. Personally, my salad was way too oily because of the vinaigrette and that basically masked everything else; I didn't care much for it. My friend's soup on the other hand, was delicious! It was creamy without being too salty and the braised pork added a perfect touch to it. 
Quinoa salad on spinach.

Adventures in Canmore Part I: Korean BBQ Restaurant

I've been procrastinating, so I am still writing outstanding reviews from a while ago. My boyfriend and I went to Canmore over the Family Day long weekend. It was a well deserved break as we both needed a vacation, especially him.

Canmore has expanded immensely over the past few 10-15 years. I remember for our family vacations, we would stop in Canmore on our way to Vancouver. Back then, it was nothing compared to what it is now. With many different ethnic restaurants and unique shops, Canmore has now become a great place to dine, shop and vacation. We stayed at The Drake Inn, a very reasonable hotel with affordable rates, right in the heart of downtown Canmore. When on vacation, there's always the great question of "where should we eat tonight?" My parents had gone to Canmore during fall of last year and they had mentioned that they went to a Korean restaurant with excellent food. I was curious as to where this place was (my parents couldn't remember the name of the restaurant) so we decided to search this place out. 

My boyfriend isn't familiar with too many ethnic foods, though I've already opened many doors for him. Korean food was foreign to him, and already wasn't a big fan of kimchi. I convinced him to go for Korean for dinner that night and he didn't seem to mind at all, as long as I ordered. I figured this place wouldn't be too hard to find since there aren't many Korean restaurants in town. My parents did tell me that it was located right by the Howard Johnson hotel, just off of the Bow Valley Trail. However, when we drove down the trail, there wasn't a Howard Johnson in sight which probably meant they changed names. Instead of driving around looking for the place my parents went to, we went to the first Korean restaurant we saw: Korean BBQ Restaurant.

Wood paneling surrounded the interior of this restaurant, along with several built-in BBQ's with large hood fans. We were seated at a table without the large fan, but with a built in BBQ.  We took note of the special that night: all you can eat Korean BBQ for $24.pp/pp, equipped with all the sides (picked vegetables and rice, in case you were wondering). My boyfriend and I thought that was way too much food for us to handle, so we decided to order off the menu. Of course it was up to me to order food off of the menu; I've honestly never ordered off a menu in a Korean restaurant. It's always been a buffet. I was scanning the menu furiously to order something both my boyfriend and I will eat. Well, mostly him. I eat mostly anything. I decided if we ordered one rice, one soup, one meat dish would cover all the basics. We ordered Bulgogi, which is a must dish to order in any Korean restaurant. It consists of marinated beef strips, stir fried with vegetables. We also ordered Duenjang Chigae, a soybean based soup with seafood, and B-Bim-Baab with raw beef (we were feeling a little bold that night), topped with a raw egg yolk. It is a rice bowl dish consisting of meat and pickled vegetables.
I  love pickled vegetables!

We got started off with picked vegetables, which is traditional in Korean cuisine. Pickled daikon, kimchi, cold bean sprouts and a leafy vegetable similar to kale. Our food followed quite quickly after wards. Our first dish was the Duenjan Chigae, which is very similar to Japanese miso soup, except this one was with seafood. It was very salty; my boyfriend didn't enjoy this dish, so I had to finish most of it.

Steaming hot miso soup.

The bulgogi, on a sizzling hot cast-iron dish came out next, followed by the B-Bim-Baab dish.
Isn't the cast-iron dish great?

We both enjoyed the bulgogi very much. Sweet and salty with stir fried onions and carrots, my boyfriend this dish the most. The B-Bim-Baab dish was something neither of us ever tried. With pickled daikon, carrots, bean sprouts, lettuce, raw beef seasoned with sesame oil topped with a raw egg yolk, this dish was very "out there". I was afraid at first to eat the raw beef, but I had had it earlier that week as beef carpaccio so that was okay. Surprisingly, the dish was quite tasty. My boyfriend enjoyed it as well.
Mmmm. Raw beef topped with a raw egg yolk.

Overall, the restaurant was good. The food wasn't spectacular nor did it exceed our expectations because we didn't have any. It was the first time that I had ordered off the menu myself so I probably didn't make the best decisions, except the bulgogi. It was also my boyfriend's first time in a Korean restaurant, so it'll take a few more times of eating this food to see if he actually likes it.

Verdict: pretty scrumptious!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Creperie is celebrating 35 years with a $35 dinner special (and $25 lunch special)!

For as long as you have been in Edmonton, The Creperie was probably there already. The Creperie is a formal, yet casual relaxed environment that offers French Classical cuisine. First opened by Hans Kuhnel, a few of  my relatives have had some history toiling in their kitchen. Anyway, that's another story. From now until April 15th, they are celebrating 35 years of business in Edmonton by offering a wonderful dinner special for $35 consisting of a salad, crepe entree and a dessert. The lunch special for $25 is similar to the dinner special. My boyfriend and myself, along with another couple, sure enjoyed the delicious meal. Great service and great food! You can go to their website for more details.

I ordered the Seafood Jambalaya crepe. It came with orzo pasta with steamed vegetables. The crepe was delicious, although the sauce was a bit too thick and salty. Still very tasty though!

For dessert, I ordered the half raspberry sauce, half chocolate sauce ice cream-filled crepe because I wanted the best of both worlds. And surely that's what it was. What a fantastic meal at a amazing price! (I didn't take a picture of the salad).