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city palate T H E

F L AV O U R

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C A L G A R Y ’ S

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the travel issue CITYPALATE.CA

MARCH APRIL 2016


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city palate

the Grape Escape

editor Kathy Richardier (kathy@citypalate.ca) publisher Gail Norton (gail@citypalate.ca) magazine design Carol Slezak, Yellow Brick Studios (carol@citypalate.ca) contributing editor Kate Zimmerman contributors Karen Anderson Barbara Balfour Shelley Boettcher Nancy Carten Gabriel Hall Chris Halpin Regan Johnson Ellen Kelly Pierre Lamielle Geoff Last Ching Li Jeff Lusis Holly Quan Allan Shewchuk Julie Van Rosendaal

Wine, Spirits & Beer Festival

March 18 & 19, 2016 5pm to 9pm BMO Centre, Stampede Park $65 + gst per evening Tickets are available at all Co-op Wine Spirits Beer locations.

contributing photographers Karen Anderson Regan Johnson for advertising enquiries, please contact advertising@citypalate.ca account executives Liz Tompkins (liz@citypalate.ca) Janet Henderson (janet@citypalate.ca) Ellen Kelly (ellen@citypalate.ca) prepress/printing CentralWeb distribution Gallant Distribution Systems Inc. The Globe and Mail website management Jane Pratico (jane@citypalate.ca) City Palate is published 6 times per year: January-February, March-April, May-June, July-August, September-October and November-December by City Palate Inc., 722 - 11 Avenue SW Calgary, AB T2R 0E4 Subscriptions are available for $48 per year within Canada and $68 per year outside Canada.

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Editorial Enquiries: Please email kathy@citypalate.ca For questions or comments please contact us via our website:

citypalate.ca


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CITYPALATE.ca MARCH APRIL 2016

Visit us in Rosemary, Alberta www.spraggsmeatshop.com


contents

CITY PALATE MARCH APRIL 2016

FEATURES

26 n Asian Market Tour

with ingredients and recipes Ching Li

30 n Asia’s Fast Food

Street dining in Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo Gabriel Hall

32 n Eating Iceland

From New Nordic to traditional, Icelandic cuisine is quirky and unique Holly Quan

Dinner just got easier. Step into Italy.

34 n Eat, Drink, Walk, Talk

158,000 steps to Santiago de Compostela. A wine-lover’s pilgrimage Nancy Carten

36 n Thank You for Driving Jeep

A road trip through heaven into hell Kathy Richardier

38 n Tokyo’s Theme Restaurants

Barbara Balfour

40 n 10 Things I Learned at Blanca The 2014 winner of City Palate’s culinary travel grant

Jeff Lusis

DEPARTMENTS

9 n word of mouth

Notable culinary happenings around town

11 n eat this

What to eat in March and April Ellen Kelly

12 n drink this

Sake Shelley Boettcher

14 n get this

Must-have kitchen stuff Karen Anderson

16 n great finds

Inspirati and Anju Regan Johnson

18 n one ingredient

Miso Julie Van Rosendaal

22 n well matched

Made-in-heaven food and wine pairings Geoff Last

24 n the sunday project

Asian broth and beef rice noodle soup with Ching Li

41 n stockpot

Stirrings around Calgary

42 n kids can cook

Rocky Off-Road Mud Clusters Pierre Lamielle

44 n 6 quick ways with...

Grapes Chris Halpin

Introducing the Italian Centre’s own brand of fresco to go.

46 n back burner... shewchuk on simmer

Food Pirates Allan Shewchuk

R E A D U S O N L I N E AT C I T Y PA L AT E . C A

city palate

@citypalate

city palate

Willow Park 9919 Fairmount Drive SE italiancentre.ca | @italianctrYYC | 403-238-4869

CITYPALATE.ca MARCH APRIL 2016

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buck a shuck - oysters 9 pm - close sun to thurs

11 pm - close fri & Sat

- full circle pizza & oyster bar 587 351 3141 - 933 17th ave sw

@fullcirclepi

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CITYPALATE.ca MARCH APRIL 2016


word of mouth

NOTABLE CULINARY HAPPENINGS AROUND TOWN

join us June 11th for city palate’s first culinary race!

read these

Team up with your cleverest of food friends… meet at the Calgary Farmers’ Market, get your clues, and GO... the race is on! 30+ Calgary restaurants and foodie destinations are participating and racers will be challenged and tested by clues at each spot! The race ends at Italian Centre Shop where great prizes and bragging rights will be dished out! (see ad page 29) For race details and to register, please visit citypalate.ca/culinaryrace.

‘tis the season for beautiful, useful, interesting cookbooks...

matt batey scoops a silver medal in kelowna

delicious kombucha

At the Gold Medal Plates Canadian Culinary Championship in Kelowna in early February, Chef Matt Batey, The Nash & Off Cut Bar, took the silver medal in the competition that had all the Gold Medal Plates winners across Canada competing for the gold. His dish made delish use of the fruits of the sea – smoked sablefish and compressed octopus paired with Road 13 sparkling wine. Yay, Calgary, silver medal.

Happy Belly Kombucha is fresh tasting and delicious because it’s brewed locally at a kombucha brewery in Chestermere, AB. It’s readily available fresh from the tap in a variety of flavours. You can also buy it in growlers that you can refill – find this healthful, delicious drink at Bite Groceteria & Café in Inglewood, The Tea Factory, 1820 - 4 St. SW and Tri It Multisport, 2640 Parkdale Blvd. NW. We are particularly fond of the Mockjito, a mint, lime and lemon infusion. Look for Love Potion made with the hibiscus flower.

mmmmm, good, at lazy loaf & kettle Lazy Loaf & Kettle has been feeding us very well for 22 years. Even with all the restaurant activity that sure has spiced up our dining out life, it’s good to remind yourself of the good food that’s been around a very long time. Lazy Loaf makes great soup, build-your-own sandwiches, eggs bennies, mac ‘n’ cheese, omelets, lasagne, French toast and much more. And the kitchen really knows how to cook, like bacon that’s cooked to crisp perfection. Not to mention bread, muffins, monster cookies and about the most beautiful carrot cake you’ll ever see or eat. If it’s been a while for you, take yourself to LL & K for a refresher on how yummy it is.

ice cream is good all year long MacKay’s Ice Cream in Cochrane is messing around with delicious flavours inspired by ethnic foods. You’ll want to try these – green tea, avocado, mango, buko (young coconut), ube (purple yam), halo halo (a Filipino blend of fruit and beans), kulfi (saffron, cardamom, slivered almonds and pistachio) and durian. Also, look for keso, a cheese ice cream popular in the Philippines. Sounds good to us, more reason to head to Cochrane. We love that ice cream is way more than chocolate, vanilla and strawberry – though there’s nothing wrong with them!

phil & sebastian for the whole gang Grab & Go the Coffee Traveller for 12 serves 12 8-oz. cups of coffee with all the trimmings, plus you can get the Coffee Traveller & Assorted pastries for 12 that, along with the coffee, includes an assortment of muffins, cookies and doughnuts. Convenient and delicious! Coffee Travellers are available at all Phil & Sebastian locations, everything you need for your meeting or event.

ching li’s fave places to get great ramen Talk about food trends, it’s ramen that people want to eat these days, totally comfort food in not-so-comfortable times. Ching Li teaches at The Cookbook Co. Cooks and takes us on a tour of Asian markets, see page 26. She knows her ramen and likes to get it at Shiki Menya in Bridgeland, Shikiji, on Centre St. just south of 16th Ave., Menyatai next to Kensington Wine Market and Misai on 32nd Ave NE. just west of 19th St. (We like Hapa Izakaya ramen, too.)

more great chocolate in the city Calgary doesn’t suffer for a lack of world-class chocolates, and now we’ve welcomed chocolatier Brett Roy and his Sweet Lollapalooza chocolates to 17th Ave. SW, sharing space with Gravity Pope and Blackbyrd Moozik – chocolates, shoes and music... yes! Roy’s award-winning chocolates make perfect gifts, but you might want to have them on hand to feed yourself... good chocolates make us happy. Bernard Callebaut figured that out for us a very long time ago – there’s always room for good chocolate. These days, we need lots of happy-making chocolate.

we love grainy bread Slathered with butter and honey or jam for breakfast, along with our eggs and sausages. COBS makes a sunflower flax sourdough that is just exactly what breakfast calls for, never mind that it makes a hearty grilled cheese for dinner duded up with tomatoes. Another COBS bread we eat a lot of is the rustic Turkish bread – tearing big chunks off to go with soup and dinner salads. Yum!

A most interesting book about a part of Canada many of us may not be familiar with that tells fascinating stories along with providing great recipes is A Taste of Haida Gwaii, Food Gathering and Feasting at the Edge of the World, by Susan Musgrave (Whitecap Books, $34.95, soft cover). This is as much a good read about Haida Gwaii as it is filled with tasty recipes you can make from what you forage in Calgary’s stores. It’s also a very fun read. For example, the section on Dungeness Crab starts with a section called Coitus Interruptus when the author is hunting crabs and finds them burrowed in the sand locked in crab bliss: mating. “You nudge them in flagrante delicto out of the sand and scoop them up in your net.” And the story goes on about the unhappy males in your tote, while the female hustles off to find another crab hunk. Hah. We love fun stories that go with delicious food. Japanese clay pot (donabe) cooking has been refined over centuries into a versatile and simple method for preparing dramatic and comforting one-pot meals. In Donabe, Classic and Modern Clay Pot Cooking (Ten Speed Press, $45, hard cover), Tokyo native and cooking instructor Naoko Takei Moore and chef Kyle Connaughton offer inspiring Japanese home-style recipes as well as California-inspired dishes. Recipes are richly flavoured, simple to prepare and perfect for communal dining with family and friends. Mmm, Gyoza Hotpot, SunDried Mushrooms and Tofu Hotpot, Tomato Curry with Chicken and Eggplant. Yes!

city’s most expensive gin cocktail? At $42 a pop, it’s no wonder The Derrick Gin Mill and Kitchen calls it Black Gold. The Derrick uses Monkey 47 Schwarzwald gin from Germany that retails for something like $179 a bottle – it’s a powerful 47% alcohol! Woo-hoo, something James Bond would like. You can make it at home: Shake together 1-1/4 oz. gin, 3/4 oz. Mancino vermouth, splash of maraschino cherry liqueur, pour into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a sliver of orange peel.

CITYPALATE.ca MARCH APRIL 2016

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JOIN US FOR

city palate’s SIXTH ANNUAL

Restaurant Promotion Pig & Pinot Porkapalooza

THURSDAY, JUNE 16th, 7-10 PM

Join us!

A FUNDRAISING EVENT IN SUPPORT OF

119 - 12 AVE SW

12 talented chef teams compete for the coveted “Divine Swine” trophy, sponsored by Alberta Pork, as they create delicious and original pork dishes with free-range pork from Spragg’s Meat Shop. And nothing pairs better with the perfect porcine than the perfect pinot! 5 boutique wine stores will pour an amazing selection of pinot wines from around the world. And you get to taste it all! Plus... A great silent auction; a fine wine raffle valued at over $2000; a Cappuccino King Coffee Cart; photos by Silly Booth; and live music by Simply Sinatra, featuring Rob Young. FOOD PREPARED BY CHEFS AT: Anju, Bow Valley Ranche, MADE Foods, Notable/ The Nash, Ox and Angela, Pampa, Red Tree Catering, Swine and Sow, Symons Valley Road House, Tango Bistro, The Cookbook Co. Cooks, Yellow Door Bistro PINOT POURED BY: Bin 905, Kensington Wine Market, Metrovino, Richmond Hill Wines, The Cellar

tickets available now

VISIT PASSIONFORPORK.COM FOR EVENTS THAT WILL KEEP THE PARTY GOING ALL MONTH LONG.

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Sign up for our WSET courses T H R O U G H T H E W I N E & S P I R I T E D U C AT I O N T R U S T WSET is the world leader in industry training. Yet their courses have also proven extremely popular with enthusiasts seeking a deeper view and understanding into the world of wine and spirits. Co-op Wine Spirits Beer is proud to be an approved program provider. We have expanded the program to offer Level 1 & 2 Spirit courses. All courses include textbooks, tastings and examinations. Successful candidates will receive a pin and certification. To register call Mike Roberts - Sommelier Manager: 403-294-1966 or email: mroberts@coopwinespiritsbeer.com

Level 1 Awards in Wine

Level 1 Awards in Spirits

Level 2 Awards in Wine

Level 2 Awards in Spirits

Oakridge: April 16 9:30 - 5:30pm • $349 Crowfoot: June 4, 5, 11 9:40 - 5:30pm • $799

Level 3 Awards in Wine Oakridge: June 13, 14, 15, 27, 28, 29 9:30 - 5:30 • $1,449

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CITYPALATE.ca MARCH APRIL 2016

Beddington: May 10 9:30 - 5:30pm • $275 Crowfoot: June 4, 5, 11 9:30 - 5:30pm • $749


eat this

Ellen Kelly

WHAT TO EAT IN MARCH AND APRIL

I have long bemoaned the fact that even though the first day of spring falls on March 21, there are seldom any outward indications of the season here on the prairies. We do, however, start to see evidence of spring creeping into the markets from farther afield. Even hothouse rhubarb speaks to me of spring. Although we see radishes throughout the year, it’s in the spring that they are at their best. We start to see the smaller golden yellow mangoes this time of year as well; whether they go by Ataulfo or Alphonso, from Mexico or India, they’re welcome harbingers of warmer weather.

Illustrations by Pierre Lamielle

RADISHES tend to be an afterthought far too often. Their early appearance, spicy crunch and cheery colours make them the perfect poster-vegetable for spring. They’re essential in this snap pea and bean salad. Steam 2 c. sugar snap peas and 3 c. yellow wax beans to tender crispness. Plunge the vegetables into ice water to cool and stop the cooking, and pat dry. Cut the peas in half and the beans into 1-inch pieces. Whisk together 3 T. lime juice, 2 T. good olive oil, 1/2 c. chopped cilantro, salt and pepper. Trim and slice one bunch of radishes (about 10) and toss with the vinaigrette and other vegetables.

MANGOES are the most popular fruit in the world, beating out even the ubiquitous banana. One of the finest varieties, the small yellow Mexican Ataulfo, begins its season in late March and goes well into June. They’re smaller than the reddish Haden and Tommy Atkins varieties we more often see, but the stone is correspondingly small resulting in plenty of silky, aromatic, fibreless flesh. This bright salsa will help dispel the winter blues. Combine chopped mango, avocado, peeled and seeded cucumber, red onion and a little minced jalapeño with chopped cilantro and mint. Add fresh lime juice, grape seed oil and salt and pepper to taste. Serve atop grilled fish or alongside a tomato salsa with tortilla chips.

BUY: I prefer to buy smallish radishes with the greens attached. Make sure the greens aren’t limp and/or yellow. Gently press one or two in a bunch to make sure they’re hard and not pithy. Remove the greens before storing, with a piece of paper towel, in a sealed plastic bag. TIPS: If the greens are very fresh and the radishes are evenly sized and pretty, leave the greens on and serve them as an appetizer with a little pile of Maldon salt on the plate for dipping. Very Chez Panisse! DID YOU KNOW? Radishes have been cultivated in China since 2700 B.C., travelled to Egypt, Greece, Rome, and then on to England, Germany, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Like so many of our edibles, colonists brought them to the New World. They’re one of the earliest and most welcome crops, easily surviving light frosts.

BUY: The fruit is greenish when under ripe. Allow to ripen at room temperature until the skin is saffron yellow and quite wrinkly. TIPS: If you can’t use a ripe mango right away, pop it in the fridge. To cut a mango, stand it upright, stem down, on your board. With a sharp chef’s knife, slice off the fruit from each side of the large flat seed. These ovals are called “cheeks.” Cut parallel slices into the flesh, making sure not to cut through the skin. Turn the cheek 1/4 rotation and again cut parallel slices to make a checkerboard pattern. You can now either cut the flesh from the skin or scoop it out with a spoon. To facilitate the former, turn the cheek inside out by pushing the skin up from underneath. DID YOU KNOW? There’s another small yellow mango from India called the Alphonso available at the same time as the Ataulfo. They’re often confused for obvious reasons. Many people feel the Indian mango is superior, but it’s hard to find and more expensive. Rounder, with a blush of red when ripe, it’s recognizable by the pronounced sweet aroma of the ripe fruit, uncommon in most mangoes. It got its name from the Portuguese adventurer and explorer Afonso de Albuquerque who invaded the Goa region in the 15th century. Called the King of Fruit, the mango is the national fruit of India.

RHUBARB is a hardy herbaceous perennial that grows well in our climate. If you don’t grow your own, I’m willing to bet you know someone who does. If you’re like me and can’t always wait for our own locally grown rhubarb, hothouse rhubarb is available to buy as early as March with field-grown coming to us from B.C. and Washington in April. Rhubarb, while technically a vegetable, has been officially designated a fruit. Pies, cakes, sauces, crisps and cobblers, often combined with other fruits like strawberries, raspberries and apples, are where rhubarb truly shines. This variation of a classic crisp really showcases this unlikely fruit. Butter an 8x12-inch baking dish and preheat your oven to 375°F. Toss 4 c. trimmed and chopped rhubarb with 1 c. white sugar, 4 T. flour, 3 T. chopped candied ginger and 1 T. orange zest. Spread this mixture evenly in the baking dish. Combine 1 c. brown sugar, 3/4 c. rolled oats, 1-1/2 c. flour and 1 c. butter until crumbly and top the rhubarb mixture. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

BUY: When buying rhubarb, look for firm shiny stalks that are not split or dried out on the cut ends. TIPS: When you’re making rhubarb sauce, remember that 1 lb. of rhubarb will yield about 3/4 c. of sauce. Trimmed stalks will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks in a sealed plastic bag. Don’t eat the leaves! They contain poisonous substances including oxalic acid, and are toxic to humans. DID YOU KNOW? Rhubarb has been cultivated around the world for centuries for food and medicine, but only migrated across North America since 1822 when colonists from Europe settling in Maine and Massachusetts introduced it. Ellen Kelly is a chef and regular contributor to City Palate.

CITYPALATE.ca MARCH APRIL 2016

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drink this

Shelley Boettcher

SAKE

Sake may not be the first thing Calgary wine drinkers think about when reaching for a glass of their favourite beverage. But a Japanese sake producer is hoping to change that. When he was looking to expand his family’s business, Mikotsuru Sake president Akira Kondo immediately set his sights on Canada. During a 2015 trip to Calgary, he said that Calgary, in particular, offered what he was looking for in terms of climate and food culture. Kondo noted that Alberta beef pairs well with his artisanal small-production sakes. “The umami in beef works well with the umami in sake,” he said via his translator, Toshiki Uehara of Sake Gami, Kondo’s Alberta-based importer. Calgary’s proximity to the West Coast – and its incredible seafood options for pairing – is a plus, too, he said. “He really cares about regionality and terroir,” said Uehara, talking about Kondo, who is based in Shimosuwa, Nagano, Japan. “He’d like everyone to enjoy his sakes with food, because they can complement what they are eating.” Local sommeliers have been quick to understand the versatility of the Mikotsuru sakes, too. Four Mikotsuru sakes are listed in Alberta; you’ll find them at select wine shops and restaurants (see below). Premium sakes are generally served chilled, Kondo said, and he prefers to serve them in typical white wine glasses – not the tiny sake cups that many associate with the brewed alcoholic beverage. (It’s made more like beer than wine.) If you’re looking for a pairing with beef, even a beef dish with a spicy chile accompaniment, Kondo – who is also Mikotsuru’s master sake brewer – and Uehara both recommended the Mikotsuru Junmai Ginjo Kuro. “It is well balanced, with grapefruit and apple-pear on the nose,” Uehara said of the distinct black-labelled bottle. “It’s complex, with a creamy texture and a smooth, long finish.” Kondo’s flagship sake, Mikotsuru Junmai Daiginjo, “has tropical fruit aromas and is very complex, more like an exotic, silky white Chateauneuf-du-Pape or Roussanne,” said Uehara, who is also a sake sommelier. “Like wine, (Kondo) wants his sakes to show terroir.” And as with wine, much of that terroir comes from how each sake is made and where the sake rices are grown. There are more than 100 kinds of sake rices in Japan; yamada-nishiki is the most common. Kondo prefers kinmon nishiki, and he grows his own, which is unusual; most sake makers buy their rice, but Kondo prefers to have control over every step of the process. Before fermentation, the rice is polished, a process also known as milling, to expose the starch in the middle. The more the rice is polished, the more refined the taste. It’s all about balance, however; the polishing process can remove some of the sake’s expressiveness, Kondo said via Uehara. And that expressiveness is what makes a fine sake so easy to drink.

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Tr y this fresh new addition to our scone range. Each bite of our delicious Apple Pie Scone is the perfect blend of Granny Smith apples and salted caramel chips with a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg.

“Instead of white wine, try a sake,” said Uehara. “Sake is so versatile. It really complements many dishes.”

Want to try Mikotsuru sake? Look for Mikotsuru at these restaurants: Anju, Carino Bistro, Carino Riserva, Cerezo Café & Bar, Hapa Izakaya, Home Tasting Room, Irashai Sushi, Kabuku, Ki Modern Japanese & Bar, Kagura, Kinjo District, MiraKuru, Q Haute Cuisine, Redheads Japa Café, Rouge Restaurant, Shiki Menya, Sho Sushi Bar & Kitchen, Shokunin, Sushi Bar Zipang, Sushi Bistro Anzu, Taste and Towa Sushi in Calgary, and at Wild Orchid Bistro and Chef’s Studio in Canmore. You’ll also find Mikotsuru sake at these wine shops: Bottega Wines and Spirits, Richmond Hill Wines, Willow Park Wine & Spirits and Vine Arts.

FOR MORE INFO VISIT COBSBREAD.COM/SCONES Shelley Boettcher is a local wine, food and travel writer. Find her on Twitter @shelley_wine or drinkwithme.com

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CITYPALATE.ca MARCH APRIL 2016


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get this kelp is the new kale Giant kelp, wild wakame and wild kombu – who knew that these sea vegetables grow in abundance in the Northern Pacific waters off Haida Gwaii? The smart folks at Untamed Feast Wild Food, that’s who. They sustainably forage these umamifilled and inherently salt-flavoured Canadian food delicacies, then dry and package them as a great base for salads, soups and stir-frys. Sea Vegetable Salad (the recipe is on the package) complements a dinner of sushi or is lovely for lunch on its own. Move over kale, kelp has arrived.

Casual lunch… serious business!

Untamed Feast Wild Food’s Ocean Blend Seaweed – Wild Harvested Sea Vegetables, $7.19/20g, Spinelli Italian Centre Shop

fresh-baked thursdays

6920 Macleod Trail S 403.252.4365 #yycbestkeptsecret

Roti is unleavened whole-wheat Indian flatbread. The fresher it is the better it tastes. That’s why it’s great to pop into Serenna’s Roti factory headquarters, Thumbs Up Foods, on Thursdays when thousands of roti are fresh off the griddle. Fauzia Kanji has been making the roti along with Serenna’s famous samosas and curries for 17 years and shows no sign of slowing down. She suggests using the roti for breakfast wraps with peanut butter and bananas rolled inside or for burritos or cheesy quesadillas. Best of all, they make a wonderful mop to catch every last bit of spicy gravy from your favourite curry. Serenna’s Roti, $4/10 pack or $10/30 pack, Thumbs Up Foods Inc., 335, 7 Westwinds Cr. NE (Tip: if you live near the Taradale Calgary Co-op, check out the new vegetarian curry bar that features Serenna’s Indianmeets-East African curries exclusively.)

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CITYPALATE.ca MARCH APRIL 2016

a tureen for all tastes and all time If you think tureens belong only in period piece movies with white-gloved butlers ladling soup for Queen Victoria and friends, think again. Pillivuyt (pronounced pillyvwheat) has been making its iconic culinary porcelain in France since 1818 and you can still find it in almost every restaurant and hotel in the country because of its durability. The porcelain is made of kaolin clay, is lead and cadmium-free and is fired at the incredibly high temperature of 2800°F. The results are a diamond-hard white glaze that’s non-porous and easy to clean. It can go from freezer to oven to dishwasher. When you see the quintessentially French Pillivuyt Lion’s Head tureen, soup’s on for sure, but it’s also an endlessly elegant vehicle for keeping salads colder, buns fresher and stews warmer. Pillivuyt Lion’s Head Tureen, $312.50, Zest Kitchenware


Karen Anderson

MUST-HAVE KITCHEN STUFF

preserve green Nothing wasted. Everything gained. This is the Preserve company credo and their “B corporation” certification proves they mean it. Certified B Corporations are held to high standards for transparency, accountability and social and environmental performance and impact. Preserve is one of more than 20,000 “Bcorp” companies worldwide that are shifting from a bottom line based solely on profit for shareholders to one that cares about impact for stakeholders. Preserve’s “gimme five” program makes these mini food storage containers from 100 percent recycled #5 plastics, which are otherwise rarely recycled. They are BPA-free, dishwasher- and microwave-safe and look cute to boot. You might not blink when most plastic containers stray from home with leftover-laden guests, but we think you’ll pick these little green apples for use at home-sweet-home only. Preserve Mini Food Storage Containers, $11.99/4 pack, Sunterra Markets

rice dreams My friend Al-Karim gave me a bag of Shaheen’s Best Sella Rice. It’s basmati rice from Pakistan and the longest and fluffiest I’ve ever enjoyed. On a bright, sunny Tuesday I travelled across town to Shaheen Grocery and Afghani Bakery in Castleridge to get more rice. It was closed. Don’t go on Tuesday. When I tried again on a snowy Thursday, I was rewarded with finding the rice of my dreams along with Shaheen’s freshly baked surfboardshaped Kabuli naan bread. A dally through the aisles yielded dried rose petals, rose water, bulk nuts, dried dates, black limes and barberries. I’ve been cooking my way through Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East & beyond, so this was like striking culinary gold. Shaheen’s, it turns out, is Alberta’s largest Persian grocery store. I dream of Persia, and while this store might only be “Little Persia on the Prairies,” it feeds my Persian food cravings and my culinary travel dreams. Shaheen Best Sella Rice, $12.99/10 lbs, Shaheen Grocery and Afghani Bakery, 4655 - 54 Ave. NE

“put a lid on it” this earth day (April 22) Never clean your compost bin again. That’s the slogan of Greenlid, The Compostable Compost Bin company. This bright green idea from a Canadian start-up owned by two brothers fresh from college won the backing of Dragon’s Den gurus Arlene Dickinson and David Chilton. Their completely recyclable (and non-leaky, non-smelly) bins are made of 100 percent recycled paper. Thirty percent of household waste is compostable and though Greenlid has only been in business since 2014, it has helped divert more than two billion kilograms of waste from landfills. The starter kit comes with a perky spring green reusable plastic lid and five bins with paper lids. Bulk refill packs bring the bins to under $1.50 each. Forget putting a lid on this. Tell everyone you know.

Buying chocolate made with Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM cocoa helps drive positive change in West Africa. Rainforest AllianceTM standards support international labour laws and promote good agricultural practices. Cococo Chocolatiers purchases and uses only chocolate that has been certified sustainable and that supports West Africa. For more information, follow the frog at www.bernardcallebaut.com

Greenlid, The Compostable Compost Bin Starter Kit, $18.49, 10-pack refill kit, $13.79, Plantation Garden Centre Karen Anderson is the owner of Calgary Food Tours.

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Thank you Calgary for your continued support throughout our renos.

great finds

INSPIRATI

There’s a popular adage that advises to keep nothing in one’s home that isn’t functional or beautiful – Inspirati Fine Linens and Home Essentials believes in having both. Owner Wendy Brownie’s expertise is boundless when it comes to linens, which is a term she uses to refer to any fabrics that adorn the home. It’s not only the softest bed linens that Brownie has in her arsenal, or fabulous throws, bath towels and rugs, but beautiful tea towels and dressings for a dinner party table, too. For years before opening Inspirati, Brownie had been sharing her love for fine fabrics with friends and family, bringing home Italian tablecloths from her travels to give as gifts. It was only in the months before her daughter’s wedding, when she realized she’d given away the last of her stash and had nothing for the occasion, that she recognized the gap in the Calgary market for fine imported linens. The business began in 2010 with invitations to a trunk show in Brownie’s home. The response was overwhelming. The show sold out entirely, and Brownie struggled to keep up with demand. “All of my shipments were going to my husband’s office downtown,” Brownie says, with a laugh. “And there were a lot of them.”

Come and check out our new look!

From the trunk sales, Brownie moved to a small space in the Devonish building before expanding to her current location, an airy storefront with linens-lined walls, hung in the open to invite customers to touch. “We love our new digs,” she says. “We did the interior ourselves, and we made it as welcoming as possible.”

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‘Welcoming’ also describes the Inspirati ethos. Brownie keeps nothing in her shop that she doesn’t love, and her team’s meticulous attention to detail is clear from the beautiful displays of heaped fabrics to the ironing board kept in the corner of the shop, ready to press napkins so they’re ready for a party the same evening. Brownie still brings in beautiful tablecloths of all colours and sizes, and insists on knowing a table’s exact dimensions so the cloth will fall at the perfect length. Round tablecloths, she says, can be a nightmare to get right, but at Inspirati they know how to get the perfect fit. Beyond the making of a beautiful table setting, Brownie is a staunch advocate for the humble tea towel, which she calls the workhorse of the kitchen. At the counter, there are samples of tea towels that are thirty years old, but have never shrunk, and remain as vibrantly colourful as brand new. They dry wine glasses streakless and fuzz-free, and take larger kitchen tasks in stride and, as Brownie points out, are an environmentally friendly choice, never mind far nicer to look at than a roll of paper towels, since they come in every imaginable colour.

Est. 1963

403.277.7898 I 265 20 Avenue NE

It’s not such a stretch, maybe, to include the plush bathrobes Brownie stocks in the category of kitchen linens, if one only imagines enjoying a weekend breakfast wrapped up in one.

www.italiansupermarket.com

Three generations of service and quality

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Inspirati, 2207 4 St SW


Regan Johnson

ANJU

Before Roy Oh began delighting Calgarians with his unique take on Korean fusion at Anju, he was just a guy pitching in to help out with the annual Christmas banquet at his church. With a background in science and visual arts, Oh says he had no plans to enter the restaurant industry. But, soon, cooking for church parties branched out into catering jobs on the side. “We even did a wedding,” he says. “No training.”

With new ideas about cooking as a career, he changed gears and took a job at Joey Tomato’s. “We were pretty successful,” Oh says of his days banqueting and catering. “So when I started at Joey’s I kind of already knew I wanted to open a restaurant. Joey’s was the busiest restaurant I knew, so I thought, ‘They have to know what they’re doing.’” Evidently, he was right, because in late 2008, Oh became a first-time chef-owner at Anju’s original location, giving Calgary a new take on both contemporary Korean fusion and the definition of bar food. In a few short years, Oh’s following had outgrown his restaurant’s capacity, and the original Anju shut its doors to re-open in its current location on 4th Street as part of the Concorde Group. Designed by RAD Architecture and Interiors, Anju’s current aesthetic is as eclectic and modern as its menu. Though he misses what he calls the character of the original house, Oh loves the new location. “It got to be hard, turning people away,” he says, of the fact that the original space was a 50-seater. By comparison, the new Anju has 112 seats, and 40 more on the patio, but still manages to feel intimate, with the interior divided into two distinct seating areas. “RAD really captured the old feel and brought it here,” Oh says. The menu at Anju is seasonal, and transitions four times a year, new dishes appearing as the last season’s are phased out. Some dishes stay year-round, including Oh’s favourite, the Oxtail Tortellini. “It represents my philosophy,” he says. “It’s so simple, but people are blown away by the flavours.” The dish, served with truffle oil and grana padano, is Oh’s take on traditional oxtail soup but with his signature modern twist, and it isn’t just Oh’s favourite. If it were to disappear from the menu, Oh says, his customers would revolt.

CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF FRESH FOOD, FRESH BEER, FRESH SODA. Try our 20th Anniversary Edition brew, coming April 2016!

The bar menu is also seasonal, and bar manager Dustin Joynt is constantly introducing new concoctions for every palate, like a recent addition called the Dark Twisted Fantasy, with Dark Horse rye, Hennesey VS, benedictine, and stout syrup. Despite his success over his relatively short culinary career, Oh remains modest. Wrapping up our conversation, I ask if he’s one of those chefs who hates having his picture taken, and he smiles a little as he gets up to put on his chef coat. “I used to be,” he says. “But I’m getting used to it.”

LUNCH+DiNNER 7 DAYS A WEEK Anju, 344 17 Avenue SW Regan Johnson works at The Cookbook Co. Cooks

THE GRIZZLY PAW.COM 622 – MAIN STREET • [403] 678-9985

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• Three new luxury home units available in a gated community • Salt water pool, stunning gardens, gated parking and courtyards • Situated in the bustling town of Olonzac, an area surrounded by vineyards and olive groves; unsurpassed natural beauty for walking, biking and relaxing • Half hour drive to the Mediterranean sea, Narbonne and historic Carcassonne, two minutes to the beautiful Canal du Midi • Canadian development company with decades of experience Visit us at: jardindecharlotte.com Contact us: david.furneaux@gmail.com (Calgarian, English speaking)

2016

DINNER & A MOVIE At Heritage Park ’80s BLOCKBUSTERS • TUESDAYS, MARCH 8 & 22 FAN FAVOURITES • TUESDAYS, APRIL 5 & 19 Viewer’s Choice – April 19. Cast your vote at HeritagePark.ca for your favourite flick!

THEMED DINNER & A MOVIE

$42.95 +GST per person Includes a themed three-course prix-fixe meal in the Selkirk Grille and viewing of the film in Gasoline Alley Museum.

Reserve at 403.268.8607 or HeritagePark.ca MOVIE ONLY

$8.00 +GST per person

Don’t miss “Reflections In Chrome: Motorcycle Retrospective” February 5 to April 24 • Gasoline Alley Museum

1900 HERITAGE DRIVE S.W.

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one ingredient

Julie Van Rosendaal

MISO

Each decade, there are foods that creep into our collective consciousness, moving from the realm of the unfamiliar into the mainstream, evolving from curiosities into culinary trends. In North America, yogurt was, at one time, considered a hippie health food. Curry paste and pesto were exotic. One of the latest centuries-old-yet-new-to-you ingredients is miso. Recognizable, yet not always fully understood, the fermented paste of soybeans and the fungus aspergillus oryzae (kōji in Japanese) has potential far beyond soup. Miso, which comes by the tub and is found in the refrigerated section of Asian markets and health-focused groceries, like Amaranth and Community Natural, can be considered both food and condiment – if you’re new to the stuff, think of it as a condiment you use less sparingly than mustard. Most commonly made from soybeans but also from brown rice, barley and other grains, and sometimes chickpeas and other pulses, it’s thick and intense, salty-savoury and rich with umami, making it ideal for marinades and vinaigrettes. Flavour profiles vary by region, ingredient and the fermentation process, but the general rule of thumb is that the paler the miso, the milder the flavour. White (shiromiso) and red (akamiso) are the most common varieties, but once you start tasting your way around, you may find others you prefer. Once you find the intensity you like – or build a small palette of types in your fridge – miso can add depth to sauces and gravies, deliciousness to chicken, veggies and fish, and a new and unexpected dimension to sweets. Beyond soup, mix a dab into mayonnaise to coat the outside of grilled cheese sandwiches or slather it over grilled corn on the cob. Make a compound butter to spread over roast chicken, quickly stir-fry shrimp or green beans, or stir into buttered noodles or your bowl of ramen. And, if you really just want a bowl of soup, stir a spoonful of miso into warming chicken stock or dashi, along with a couple of chopped scallions and cubes of tofu.

Orange-Apricot Miso Jam 1 lb. mandarin or navel oranges 1 lb. apricots or peaches, skinned, pitted and roughly chopped 2-1/2 c. sugar juice of 1 lemon 1 T. miso

Wash and zest the mandarins. Set the zest aside and peel the oranges, tossing the white part and chopping the juicy flesh, working over a bowl or on a chopping board with a gutter to catch the juices. Put into the bowl of a food processor along with the apricots or peaches and pulse until well combined but still chunky. Pour into a large, heavy saucepan, add the sugar and lemon juice and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. Stir in the miso. Test to see if it’s jam by dropping a small spoonful on a chilled saucer – when you push it with your finger, it should wrinkle. Divide into jars or freezer containers and refrigerate for up to a month, or freeze for up to 4 months. Makes about four 250 ml jars.


Miso Roasted Salmon Miso and salmon make a perfect pairing. You can also stir a spoonful of miso into pretty much any marinade to roast or grill. Marinade: 2-4 T. miso 2 T. rice vinegar juice of 1 orange (about 3 T.) 2 t. soy sauce 2 t. grated ginger

In a heavy-duty Ziploc bag, combine all the marinade ingredients and massage to blend in the miso. Add the salmon and let marinate for half an hour to an hour. When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 425°F. Pull the salmon out of its marinade and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 8-10 minutes, until the fish is just firm, but still moist in the middle – it should flake on the thinner edges. Serves 2-4.

1 t. sesame oil 1 green onion, finely chopped 2-4 salmon filets or steaks

Cold Peanut Miso Soba Noodles Soba noodles are made from buckwheat; they’re deliciously nutty in this cold salad – and, despite their name, gluten-free – but any type of noodle or cold pasta can take its place. Use whatever veggies you have in the fridge – carrots, peppers, asparagus, radishes, pea pods, cucumbers and broccoli all work well. Peanut Sauce: 1/3 c. peanut or almond butter 2 T. rice vinegar 1 T. each lime juice, honey, soy sauce, miso 1 t. sesame oil squirt Sriracha or sambal oelek 1/2 lb. soba noodles 1 large carrot, grated 1/2 small cucumber, halved and sliced 3-4 radishes, thinly sliced 2-3 green onions, chopped chopped fresh cilantro toasted sesame seeds

Whisk the peanut sauce ingredients in a small bowl, or shake them together in a jar, adding warm water (or even coconut milk) to thin if the sauce seems too thick. Meanwhile, cook the soba noodles in a large pot of boiling water for 5 minutes, or according to package directions, until just tender. Dump into a colander and run under cool water to stop them from cooking. Drain well and transfer to a shallow bowl. Add the carrot, cucumber, radishes, green onion and cilantro, drizzle with peanut sauce and gently toss to coat. Serve sprinkled with additional cilantro and toasted sesame seeds. Serves 4-6. continued on page 20

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1 ingredient MISO continued from page 19

Roasted Miso Chicken Caesar with Creamy Miso Dressing A rugged salad made with miso-roasted chicken that bakes over the bread cubes, allowing them to soak up its juices. The meat is then hacked up and piled on the greens before topping the salad with a creamy miso dressing. Divine. Chicken: 3 T. butter, at room temperature 3 T. miso 1 T. honey 1 garlic clove, crushed 4-6 chicken thighs, with skin and bone

Salad: 1 crusty loaf of bread, like ciabatta, cubed olive oil 3-4 slices bacon (optional) 1 head romaine, torn or chopped

Creamy Miso Dressing: 1/4 c. mayonnaise 2 T. lemon juice 1 T. miso 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese 1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

brazilian barbecue

In a large Ziploc bag, combine the butter, miso, honey and garlic; spread it all over the chicken and let it sit while you preheat the oven to 400°F.

authentic.

The way it should be.

Experience the bold flavours and original taste of Churrasco, an authentic barbecue style made famous by Gauchos - the cowboys of South America.

Get a big, rimmed baking sheet and dump in the bread cubes. Drizzle generously with olive oil, toss the bread about with your hands to more or less coat, then spread out the cubes in a single layer and place the chicken on top. Roast for about 40 minutes, taking out the pan and rearranging everything at some point if you feel like it, and then lay a few strips of bacon over everything. Return the pan to the oven for 10 minutes or so, until everything is nicely crisped up and the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and chop it roughly, skin and all, discarding the bones. Meanwhile, fill a large platter with torn or chopped romaine and shake the dressing ingredients together in a jar. Top the lettuce with torn or chopped chicken, bacon and croutons, and drizzle with dressing. Serves 4-6.

Miso Caramels Miso paste makes a more complex version of the usual salted caramels. 1 c. sugar 1/2 c. packed brown sugar

w w w. b r a z i l i a n b b q . c a

1/2 c. butter 1 c. heavy (whipping) cream 1/2 c. corn syrup or Lyle’s Golden Syrup 1 T. miso pinch salt

C A LGA RY

100 5920 Macleod Trail SW phone:403.454.9119

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C A N MOR E

629 Main Street phone:403.678.9886

Butter an 8×8-inch pan or line it with parchment. In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the sugar, brown sugar, butter, cream and syrup and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. Cook until the mixture reaches 244°F on a candy thermometer; remove from the heat, stir in the miso and salt and pour into the prepared pan. Let stand at room temperature until set. Cut into squares and wrap each individually in parchment. Makes about 1 lb. caramels.


ď ´Ginger-Miso Dressing Miso helps emulsify this addictive dressing, which is delicious on a kale salad, roasted veggies, an Asian-style slaw, or even cold noodles. Grating frozen ginger with a Microplane makes it ultra-fine, and as light as snow – it melts into the vinaigrette. 1/4 c. canola or other mild vegetable oil 1/4 c. rice vinegar 1 T. miso 2 t. sesame oil 2 t. honey 1 t. finely grated ginger

Shake up all the dressing ingredients in a jar, or whisk them together in a small bowl. Keeps in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Makes about 2/3 cup.

Julie Van Rosendaal is a cookbook author and blogs at dinnerwithjulie.com

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Fresh Produce

Antipasti

In-store Bakery

well matched

tamarind

chile Specialty Foods Olive Oils Balsamics Catering

tomatoes coconut coriander

This issue focuses on two spicy dishes ideally suited to cool weather. Both are crowd pleasers and both received high points on the kid-friendly scale, which, as every parent knows, can be a challenge. These look more complicated on the page than they actually are, and I made some small changes to the original recipes (I backed off on the garlic in the curry dish, for example, as it took over a bit). Enjoy.

Vij’s Tamarind Chicken and Chickpea Flour Curry (adapted from Vij’s cookbook) Vij’s Vancouver restaurant is one of my favourite places in the world to dine. I served this on New Year’s to rave reviews. The leftovers were even better two days later. Marinade: 2/3 c. tamarind paste, available at East Indian spice stores

Olives Deli Meats &Cheeses Gift Baskets

1/2 c. canola oil or grapeseed oil 3 T. sugar 1 T. each Mexican chile powder and paprika 1 t .cayenne 1-1/2 T. salt 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (poke all over with a knife)

Curry Sauce: 1/4 c. canola oil 1 large onion, thinly sliced

Hot &Cold Lunches

Cappuccino Dessert Bar

1 28-oz. can of tomatoes with juices or 4 large fresh tomatoes, skins removed, finely chopped 1 large jalapeño, seeded and chopped 1/2 T. ground cumin 2 T. ground coriander 1 t. each cayenne and turmeric 1-1/2-inch cinnamon stick 1/2 T. salt 5 T. chick pea flour 1-1/2 c. water

Combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. If you can’t find tamarind paste you can use tamarind chutney, which most supermarkets carry. Add the chicken breasts and cover well with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate 3 hours and up to 8 hours. Remove from fridge about 20 minutes before you’re ready to grill. To make the curry, heat the oil on medium heat 1 minute. Add the onion and sauté until golden brown. Stir in the tomatoes, jalapeño, cumin, coriander, cayenne, turmeric, cinnamon stick and salt. Cook 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low. In a separate bowl, whisk the chick pea flour with 1 c. of water until thoroughly combined. Add this mixture and the remaining water to the curry. Stir well and increase heat to medium. When the curry boils, reduce heat to low and add the coconut milk. Stir the curry regularly and simmer for 20-30 minutes. The curry will thicken as it cooks; cook it to the consistency of a cream sauce. Preheat your outdoor grill or a grilling pan on the stove to high heat. Grill each chicken breast 4-5 minutes each side. Test for doneness and cook another minute per side if necessary. Transfer the curry sauce to a serving dish, add the grilled chicken and serve. Rice is nice, too. Serves 6.

1 can coconut milk

Visit Lina’s for the real ItalIan experience. 2202 Centre St NE 403.277.9166 www.linasmarket.com

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Wine: The biggest challenge with many Indian dishes is the heat, but most of Vij’s dishes are fairly wine friendly. My go-to wine with curry is almost always dry riesling, but as this is always my standard recommendation I thought I should offer an alternative. Vikram (Vij) recommends a dolcetto with this dish, which is an unusual choice but it’s obviously well-tested, so here’s a tasty option. Luigi Einaudi Dogliani Dolcetto 2013, $26 Einaudi is a first-rate producer from Italy’s Piedmont region, best-known for sumptuous Barolos, but this wine is a house specialty, a rich, exotic style of dolcetto displaying notes of game and licorice in a core of black plum and cherry fruit. Its lively acidity helps make it a versatile food mate and a nice alternative to the usual white wine pairings that would typically be recommended for this dish.


Geoff Last

MADE-IN-HEAVEN FOOD AND WINE PAIRINGS

orange

scallions

step away from the microwave meal! gain the confidence to create simple, delicious meals that will impress your taste buds — and your guests

garlic chile ginger

Orange Beef (adapted from a Sam Sifton recipe from NYT Cooks) There are some elements of the classic ginger beef (more of a Canadian specialty than Chinese) in this recipe, but this tastes much fresher and lighter. Using rib-eye pushes up the cost, but you can use a cheaper cut – it just won’t be quite as tender. I use a large non-stick skillet for this (not Teflon coated) as you can get it quite hot and the food won’t stick, which is important to get the beef pieces on the crispy side. Kids love this dish. Serve it over rice with some green veggies on the side. For the sauce: 1 T. neutral oil such as grapeseed 1-1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced 2 T. orange zest, plus the juice of one orange 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced 1/4 c. light brown sugar 1/4 c. each rice vinegar (not seasoned rice vinegar) and soy sauce

Add the orange juice, brown sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce and fish sauce to the pan and stir to combine. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, then lower the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and reduces by half, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

IT’S ALL IN THE TECHNIQUE

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Meanwhile, prepare the meat: combine the egg white, cornstarch and salt in a bowl. Add the steak, tossing to coat the meat with the batter.

1 T. fish sauce

For the beef: 1 large egg white 1 T. cornstarch 1 pinch salt 1 boneless rib-eye steak, approximately 1 to 1-1/2 pounds, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch pieces 1/4 c. neutral oil, such as grapeseed 6 scallions, white and green parts, cut into inch-long pieces and separated 2 dried red chiles, or to taste

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. When it begins to shimmer, add the ginger, jalapeño and orange zest and stir to combine. Sauté the mixture until the ingredients soften, approximately 2 to 3 minutes, then add the garlic and continue cooking until it softens, approximately 1 to 2 minutes longer.

In a large skillet or wok set over high heat, heat the oil until it shimmers and is about to smoke. Add the beef to the pan or wok in a single layer and cook without stirring until the bottoms of the pieces are crisp and golden, approximately 60 to 90 seconds. Add the white pieces of scallion and chiles to the pan, then turn the beef pieces over and cook the other sides, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes more for medium-rare. Transfer to a platter, then pour the orange sauce into the hot pan or wok, let it boil and stir it as it thickens. Add the meat and stir to coat with the sauce. Return the meat and sauce to the platter and scatter the green scallions over the top. Serves 4.

Wine: There are some spices to contend with in this dish, most notably chiles and ginger, along with soy which adds a salty component. The key here is to find a red wine with some spice of its own but with soft tannins as salt tends to makes tannins taste even stronger and bitter. Zinfandel, syrah and gamay are all good options. The Seven Deadly Zins Zinfandel (from the Michael David Winery) 2013, $28 Finding value from California this year is going to be tough, but decent zinfandels can still be found for under $30. This one, produced from old vines from the Lodi appellation, is classic in style with lots of spice and crushed blackberry fruit with bright acidity, a nice match with the orange beef.

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the sunday project Lundberg knows a thing or two about rice. It’s been a part of their lives since 1937.

with Ching Li

ASIAN BROTH AND BEEF RICE NOODLE SOUP

Beef Broth: 3 lb. beef bones 3 star anise 2 black cardamom pods 3 dried orange peels 2” fresh ginger, crushed

Phở Bò (Beef Rice Noodle Soup): 1 lb. rice noodles 8 c. beef stock 3-5 t. salt to taste 2-6 T. fish sauce to taste 1 medium daikon, cut into 1/2-inch-thick half-round slices (found at Aisian Markets) 1 lb. beef tenderloin, thinly sliced

Healthy food choices for smart eaters available at

2 sprigs Thai basil, leaves roughly chopped for garnish 2 scallions, thinly sliced for garnish

3 locations in Calgary

amaranthfoods.ca

Metrovino 1996.

The secret to making flavourful Asian broth is time, patience and parboiling the bones. There are basically no ovens in Vietnam to roast bones in, so to make a clear and fragrant broth, you have to parboil them. People may think that this method of blanching the bones will dilute the flavour. It actually helps to get rid of all the impurities so that your broth is not cloudy and the slow simmering of the bones will bring out its best attributes. This techinique, plus the earthy notes from the star anise, black cardamom and dried orange peel, makes the perfect base for beef rice noodle soup. Let me share this family recipe that has been passed down to me. Most recipes call for rock sugar to sweeten the broth. There is no need for sugar when you have daikon. Daikon does double duty as it sweetens and also clarifies the broth. Enjoy this simple, classic soup any time of the year.

722 11 Avenue SW, Calgary, AB 403.205.3356 | wine@metrovino.com metrovino.com

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CITYPALATE.ca MARCH APRIL 2016

lime wedges

Parboil the beef bones by placing the bones in a large soup pot and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil and let boil for 10 minutes to rid the bones of impurities. Scoop out the foam, remove the bones and wash the pot. Place the beef bones in the clean pot with star anise, black cardamom, dried orange peel and crushed ginger. Fill pot 3/4 full with water. Bring to a boil and turn heat down to simmer, covered, for 5 hours. Allow the stock to cool and skim off the fat. Strain the stock through a strainer lined with cheesecloth. You may portion the stock and freeze at this point. To make the soup, soak the rice noodles for 2030 minutes in cold water. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with cold water and set aside. Drain the noodles and add to the boiling water. When the water begins to boil again, use chopsticks or tongs to separate the noodles. Turn off the heat, wait one minute and drain the noodles. Add the cooked vermicelli to the bowl of cold water to remove the starch, then drain. Divide the noodles into four large soup bowls and set aside. In a medium pot, bring 8 cups of the beef stock to a boil. Turn the heat to medium, add the salt and fish sauce to taste. Add the daikon and cook for about 20 minutes, until the daikon is tender and translucent. Turn the heat to low-simmer. In a small pot, bring water to a boil. Fill a small strainer with slices of tenderloin and dunk into the water for about 5 seconds, using chopsticks or tongs to separate the slices. This will prevent the broth from getting cloudy. Remove the beef slices and place some into one of the large soup bowls atop the rice noodles. Repeat until all the noodles are topped with semi-cooked beef slices. Ladle the hot beef broth and slices of daikon into the bowls. Garnish with Thai basil and green onion and serve with lime wedges. Serves 4.


1. Ingredients

2. Beef bones for parboiling

3. Aromatics with bones for broth

4. Second boil in progress

5. Chilled broth, fat solidifies on top

6. Skimming the fat

7. Strain the broth

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8. Broth ready to become soup!

9. Phở Bò ready to eat. Yum!

Ching Li is a cooking instructor at The Cookbook Co. Cooks. Photos by Regan Johnson.

CITYPALATE.ca MARCH APRIL 2016

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WITH INGREDIENTS AND RECIPES by Ching Li

Going to an Asian market is like visiting a city for the first time. Everywhere you look, there’s something new and interesting that catches your eye.

Shanghai bok choy

The different departments in an Asian market might make your head spin. The bakery is filled with baked buns, assorted cookies and dainty desserts. It’s hard to walk away without getting a barbecue pork bun or an egg tart. The assortment of vegetables and fruits in the produce area is mind blowing. Shanghai bok choy, yu choy, green papaya, dragonfruit… the produce signs say the names but not how to cook or eat them. However, this is where you’ll find fresh lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal – essential ingredients for Thai cuisine. All three ingredients are extremely flavourful and complement each other when used in a dish. The citrus ginger notes in lemongrass combined with the lemon-cardamom flavoured galangal and the earthy kaffir lime leaves is what makes Thai curries and soups unique.

Kaffir lime leaves

Dragonfruit

The refrigerators at the back of the markets house fresh rice noodles, miso and tofu. Who knew there were so many brands and types of tofu, such as fried, seasoned, fresh, soft or firm? This is the area where you’ll find my childhood favourite, Chinese sausage. Sweet and savoury, these sausages can be made from pork, chicken or duck. Chinese sausage is cured like charcuterie and easily stored in the freezer. It needs to be cooked either by frying until crispy or steaming with sticky rice and lotus leaves.

Yu choy

Galangal Green papaya

A visit to an Asian market means hitting the rice aisle and stocking up on various kinds of rice – jasmine, basmati, sushi and glutinous. Hidden in this aisle is a special kind of rice that is harvested during the autumn season in Vietnam. Green rice is unripened glutinous rice that can be used in savoury or sweet dishes. The rice is toasted after harvest to bring out its light and delicate flavour. The most fragrant and prized green rice is from Lang Vong, a small village just outside Hanoi. Green rice is so special that it can only be purchased in small packages. An Asian market is not complete without a seafood department. It’s hard not to notice the live fish, lobster, crab in the tanks or the spotted shrimp and geoducks (a type of clam).

Green rice Chinese sausage

We save the best for last as we head over to the snack aisles. The shelves are filled with odd-flavoured savoury and sweet snacks like dried squid, preserved plums and seaweed potato chips. It’s like being a kid in a candy store again, with familiar favourites like White Rabbit and Hello Kitty candies sprinkled throughout the shelves along with new treats that need to be tried and tested. Asian markets are always an adventure. Even when you’re armed with a recipe and a little research, the market can still be daunting. The ingredients on your shopping list might have different names on the package at the market or they may be located in the corner on the top shelf in an aisle that you’ve walked up and down several times. Never fear, you’re not alone! With perseverance and time to explore, you’ll reap the benefits of extraordinary ingredients that will expand your culinary horizons. These recipes will get you exploring Asian markets. Happy shopping!

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CITYPALATE.ca MARCH APRIL 2016

Geoduck

Preserved plums


Chè Cốm

(Green Rice Sweet Soup)

My Favourite Asian Markets: Hiep Hoa Foods 4710 - 17 Ave SE

Chả Cốm

2 c. water

(Fried Minced Pork Patties with Green Rice)

3-5 T. sugar (adjust to taste)

scant 1/2 c. green rice flakes

3 T. tapioca starch

1/2 c. water

1/4 c. water or more as needed

1 lb. ground pork

scant 1/2 c. green rice flakes

1/2 medium onion, finely diced

shredded coconut for garnish

1 lemongrass stalk, finely minced

In a pot, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar and reduce the heat to medium.

2 green onions, finely sliced

In a small bowl, whisk the tapioca starch with the 1/4 c. water until the starch is no longer clumpy. Pour this into the water/sugar mixture in a steady stream, whisking to prevent clumps. Keep whisking until the syrup thickens.

4 garlic cloves, finely minced

Add the green rice flakes to the pot and stir well. Turn off the heat – the green rice will continue to cook in the syrup and turning the heat off will prevent the green rice from getting too soft and sticky. Serve warm or chilled in small bowls and garnish with shredded coconut. Serves 3.

Hong Kong Food Market 3215 - 17 Ave SE Lambda Oriental Foods Supermarket 1423 - Centre St N Lucky Supermarket 4527 - 8 Ave SE T&T Supermarket 999 - 36 St NE (Pacific Place Mall) Tops Supermarket 1623 Centre St NW (Central Landmark)

1/4 c. soy sauce 1 T. sugar 1/2 c. water vegetable oil for frying

In a bowl, slowly mix the water with the green rice flakes. The water will rehydrate the rice, changing it from light green to bright emerald green. Set aside. Mix all the remaining ingredients in a bowl, adding the green rice last. Form into 2-inch balls (about the size of a golf ball) and place meatballs on a tray. Heat the oil in a large frypan on medium heat and place a meatball in the pan. Flatten the meatball into a patty. Repeat until the pan is full. Cook patties until they turn golden brown and no longer stick to the bottom of the pan – about 1-2 minutes. Flip and cook the other side for another 1-2 minutes. Flip only once or they might fall apart. Serve as an appetizer with Vietnamese dipping sauce – recipe page 28 – or make a meal by using them in a noodle bowl with vermicelli noodlles, lettuce, beansprouts, mint and Thai basil. Drizzle the Vietnamese dipping sauce over top. Makes about 24 patties.

Tom Yum Gai Soup 4 c. water

1 chicken breast 3/4”piece of galangal, sliced and crushed 4 kaffir lime leaves, center stem removed 1 lemongrass stalk 4 dried red chiles 2 shallots, unpeeled 3 T. fish sauce 2 limes, juiced 3 sprigs cilantro, roughly chopped 2 sprigs Thai basil, leaves roughly chopped lime wedges

In a pot, bring the water and chicken to a boil. Turn the heat to medium and add the galangal and kaffir lime leaves. Slice the ends off the lemongrass, leaving about 12 inches. Crush the lemongrass to release the essentials oils, then add it to the pot with the chicken and simmer as you prepare the chiles and shallots. Roast the chiles and unpeeled shallots on the stove over low heat. It will take about 30 seconds for the chilies to turn brown and fragrant. Remove the chiles, set them aside and continue to brown the shallots until they turn soft and the peel is burnt. Cut off the root and tip and remove the burnt peel. Add the shallots to the soup pot. When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pot, shred it into small pieces, and return to the pot. Add the fish sauce and lime juice. Taste and adjust accordingly – the broth should have a good balance of sour and savoury. Ladle the soup into individual bowls. Crush the toasted chiles and sprinkle them on the soup. Garnish with cilantro and basil and serve with lime wedges. Serves 4.

continued on page 28

CITYPALATE.ca MARCH APRIL 2016

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Asian Market Tour WITH INGREDIENTS AND RECIPES continued from page 27

Thai Fish Cakes with Cucumber Relish

1/4 t. ground turmeric

1 c. rice vinegar

Fried Rice with Chinese Sausage 2 Chinese sausages

1 t. cumin seeds

1/2 t. salt

2 T. sugar

2 eggs

1 T. coriander seeds

1-1/2 c. water

6-inch piece of cucumber, julienned into thin matchsticks

2 T. vegetable oil

20 black peppercorns

1 garlic clove, minced

3 T. finely sliced shallots

1 red chile, sliced

4 T. chopped garlic

1 t. minced ginger

1 T. finely sliced galangal

2 stalks gai lan, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 T. finely sliced lemongrass

2 c. cooked rice 1 t. soy sauce or more to taste

2 t. finely chopped kaffir lime leaves, stem removed

1 T. green onions, finely chopped

1 T. finely chopped cilantro stems

Boil the sausages in a pot of water for 1 minute. Drain, cool and cut into 1/4-inch slices. In a bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Set aside.

1 t. shrimp paste

Vietnamese Crêpes 2 c. flour

3/4 c. coconut milk

6-inch piece of carrot, grated

vegetable oil for frying

1 small shallot, finely sliced

1 large onion, diced

1 medium red chile, finely sliced

1/2 lb. ground pork

1 lb. basa fillets

3/4 lb. prawns

2 T. red curry paste (see recipe right)

2 lb. bean sprouts

3/4 c. finely chopped Chinese longbeans

2 green onions, sliced on the diagonal

5 kaffir lime leaves, stem removed and finely chopped

1/2 lb. Chinese sausage lettuce herbs – mint, cilantro, Thai basil, perilla vietnamese dipping sauce (recipe below)

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, turmeric and salt. Add the water and coconut milk and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Set batter aside to rest for 30 minutes. Heat about 2 T. of oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and cook for about 30 seconds then add the ground pork. Once the pork starts to brown, add the prawns. When the prawns start turning pink, add the bean sprouts. Make sure all the ingredients are mixed well. Mix in the green onions, remove from the heat and set aside. Boil the sausages in a pot of water for 1 minute, then drain well. Heat about 1 T. of oil in a pan and add the sausages. Roll the sausages around to cook thoroughly and evenly. Cook until golden, then remove from the heat and allow to cool a bit. Cut the sausages on an angle into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Set aside. Heat 1 T. of oil in a 10-inch pan. Stir the crêpe batter and pour about 1/2 c. batter into the pan. Swirl the pan to coat the bottom. When the middle of the crêpe looks cooked through and the edges of the crêpe begin to brown, flip it over. It will take 1-2 minutes for the crêpe to finish cooking. Slide it onto a plate and lay some filling and sausage on half of the crêpe. Fold the other half over to cover the filling. Serve the crêpes with lettuce, assorted herbs and a small bowl of Vietnamese dipping sauce. Makes 6 10-inch crêpes.

vegetable oil for frying

To make the relish, combine the vinegar and sugar in a saucepan and heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves, then boil to produce a thin syrup. Remove from heat and let cool. When the syrup is cool, add the cucumber, carrot, shallot and chile. Mix well and set aside. Cut the basa fillets into 2-inch pieces and put into a food processor. Pulse to form a smooth paste, then transfer to a large bowl. Add the curry paste and blend thoroughly with the fish paste. Add the green beans and kaffir lime leaves and mix well. Shape into small flat cakes about 2 inches across and 3/4-inch thick. Heat about 3 T. of oil in a pan and fry the fish cakes until golden brown, flip over and fry the other side. Don’t flip more than once. Add more oil to the pan as needed to prevent cakes from burning. Serve with cucumber relish. Makes 20 cakes.

Red Curry Paste 13 dried red chiles

Heat 1 T. oil in a pan or wok, add the garlic, chile and ginger. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Add the eggs and make an omelet. Remove from pan or wok and set aside. In a large pan, heat the remaining 1 T. vegetable oil and cook the sausage slices until crispy, about 1-2 minutes. Add the gai lan and stir-fry for several minutes until it’s slightly tender and turns bright green.

Soak the dried chiles in hot water for about 15 minutes, then stem and deseed them. In a pan on low heat, toast the cumin and coriander seeds for about 5 minutes. Grind the toasted seeds and the peppercorns into a powder. Set aside. Put the remaining ingredients, including the chiles, into a food processor or blender and process well to create a paste. Add the spice mixture and mix well. Makes about 3/4 cup.

Add the rice and soy sauce and mix well. Add the omelet and mix well – breaking the omelet into smaller pieces as you toss all the ingredients together. Add the green onions and mix well. Serve on a large platter. Serves 2.

Recipe photos by Ching Li

Nước Mắm Giấm

(Vietnamese Dipping Sauce) This goes with everything. It’s usually used as a dipping sauce, but drizzle it on grilled meats and fish just before serving. Store it in the fridge in glass jars. 1 c. water 1/4 c. + 2 T. sugar 1/2 c. lime juice (or lemon juice or apple cider vinegar) 1/4 c. fish sauce 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 red chile pepper, thinly sliced

In a bowl, stir together the water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Then, stir in the lime juice and fish sauce and add the garlic and chile. Stir together well. Makes about 1-3/4 cups. ✤

Ching Li is a cooking instructor at The Cookbook Co. Cooks

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city palate’s

SATURDAY, JUNE 11, 2016 8:30 A.M. TO 5 P.M. Team up with your cleverest of food friends… meet at the Calgary Farmers’ Market, get your clues, and GO... the race is on! 30+ Calgary restaurants and foodie destinations are participating and racers will be challenged and tested by clues at each spot! The race ends at Italian Centre Shop where great prizes and bragging rights will be dished out!

Join us for the culinary race of the year! Race fee: Individuals $40; Teams $65

For race details, and to register, please visit

citypalate.ca/culinaryrace

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CITYPALATE.ca MARCH APRIL 2016

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ASIA’S FAST FOOD

Street dining in Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo story and photos by Gabriel Hall

Food cart

People are constantly moving in this part of the world, from school or work to obligatory drinks with co-workers or meetings with friends. Being perpetually in transit doesn’t give them much time to shop for food and make meals. Space is also at a premium; small apartments with miniature kitchens don’t allow for easy food storage or preparation.

Singaporean noodles

CITYPALATE.ca MARCH APRIL 2016

This lack of ease to cook for oneself has created an army of food carts, food stalls and small eateries catering to Asians on the move. Traditionally, these entrepreneurs have often served one thing only, handing down and refining their recipes through generations, resulting in today’s specialized and refined fast food. Every gastro-tourist’s introduction to Asia’s street food scene should start in Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo. These three cities are easily accessible, spoken English is decent and they all have good, often outstanding examples of their region’s best-known dishes.

Hong Kong pineapple bun

Hong Kong tea house beef brisket curry

SINGAPORE

HONG KONG

Singapore is famous for its hawker centres, an attempt in the 1950s and ‘60s to harness the unregulated street carts and rogue food vendors into government-controlled food centres to support the urbanization and development of the city. These food courts feature individually owned shops serving limited specialties that always include the region’s Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Indonesian influences.

Dining in Hong Kong can be a bit off-putting to newcomers, because in many eateries, you must sit with complete strangers, receiving the bill right after the food comes, and are expected to order shortly after sitting down. Many places are small, there are often lineups of people waiting to eat, and everyone is in a hurry, making a rushed and sometimes cramped meal the norm.

Without a doubt, Hainanese Chicken Rice is the unofficial national dish of Singapore. Chicken is boiled in spiced water, then dunked into ice water to allow a layer of fat to gelatinize between the skin and the meat. It’s served with rice made from the leftover chicken stock, creating a simple but surprisingly aromatic dish.

While roast duck or pork at Chinese barbecue places are common in the western world, the king of roast meats in Hong Kong is the goose. It’s higher in fat and perfect served on a bed of rice to allow for the drippings to be soaked up. Look for the hanging roast goose in the shop window of any respectable roast meat shop.

Indonesian Nasi Padang stalls are easy to spot, as they often have a dozen or more different dishes on display in the stall window, including grilled chicken, chile crab and prawns and beef rendang curry, to name a few favourites. You choose the dishes and sauces you want spooned over white rice. Since many places charge by the number of dishes, taking a lot can result in a surprisingly large bill. Street tent vendor, Tokyo

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People can be forgiven for feeling intimidated on their first few visits to Asia. The inability to easily communicate and to identify familiar food other than McDonalds and KFC can be overwhelming. But when you wander into a nondescript shop or tent, point to whatever the person next to you is eating and take your first bite, the reason people visit Asia becomes very clear.

Forget dim sum; early risers should make their way to the nearest cha chang teng (tea house) for a pineapple bun with a large pat of butter, and pair it with a Hong Kong milk tea (black tea usually made with evaporated or condensed milk). Get there early because people line up outside to wait for buns fresh out of the oven.


TOKYO Japan – Tokyo restaurants in particular – boasts the largest number of Michelin stars outside of France. But the Japanese ethos of “shokunin,” a dedicated artisan constantly searching for perfection, is more often found in the small multi-generational family shops, rather than restaurants rated highest by international judges. The best example of shokunin is Nonbei Yokocho (“Drunkard’s Alley”). Situated in Shibuya, this narrow street, consisting of spaces barely larger than closets, houses row after row of small six- to 10-seat bars, each with its own unique shtick. Each owner is dedicated to the spirit of choice – if one bar doesn’t suit you, just wander eight feet over to the next bar to try its specialty. At night, tents appear, seemingly grown from the urban jungle sidewalk. Weary working men duck into these tents and pull up a stool to eat oden, kushiage, nabe or whatever happens to be on the menu, and drink copious amounts of beer. If you’re out late at night and want to converse with the locals, pull up a stool and buy the guy next to you a drink.

Ramen is the staple food of the Japanese. Tokyo’s Ramen Street, at the Yaesu Underground Exit of Tokyo Station, allows you to sample eight distinct styles of ramen while waiting for your train. Select your order from the ticket machine (most ramen shops have a system like this) and hand your ticket to the wait staff after you take your seat. Order your beer and it’ll be just a short wait for a steaming bowl of savoury ramen. Where food courts and fast-food stalls in North America are usually viewed as poor quality, the opposite is true in Asia. Hawker centres and quick casual eateries are often independently owned and staunchly focused on continuing culinary traditions. Spending one’s gastro-holiday experiencing these hidden gems is often all you need to start to understand Asia as a whole. ✤ Find Gabriel Hall at levoyagegourmand.com

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CITYPALATE.ca MARCH APRIL 2016

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Gullfoss

Dill’s salted cod, parsnip, apple and fried cod cream

Dill’s half-carrot appetizer

E AT I N G I C E L A N D From New Nordic to traditional, Icelandic cuisine is quirky and unique by Holly Quan Photos by Vireo Creative Communications

With direct flights from Edmonton, Iceland is now more accessible than ever. You’ll find tons of outdoor activities – whale watching, fishing, riding cute fuzzy Icelandic horses, thermal spas, hiking, the list goes on. It’s a sporty, outdoorsy place with more high-tech outdoor clothing than Banff and Canmore combined. The food is adventurous, too. It’s quirky, but on the cusp of finding its stride. You’ll find lots of European influence – mostly French and Italian (pizza). There’s a substantial American influence too, primarily burgers and ribs. You’ll also see Mexican, Thai, sushi and more. Add traditional Icelandic food and the very unusual New Nordic cuisine, and you’ve got a “stew”of food choices.

New Nordic: weird and wonderful It’s late August and our first night in Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, and we’re utterly jetlagged. It’s midnight in my head but early evening in Iceland, and we’re having what proves to be the weirdest dinner ever at Dill Restaurant. Executive chef Gunnar Karl Gislason is a leading proponent of New Nordic cuisine, an approach pioneered by René Redzepi at his Copenhagen restaurant Noma, named the best restaurant in the world by a variety of food critics. New Nordic embraces ingredients that are caught, raised or foraged locally and served in combinations that emphasize unusual flavours and textures. Gislason knows Redzepi and follows those world-famous footsteps to showcase local Icelandic ingredients – everything from lamb, seafood and wild mushrooms to yarrow, meadowsweet and stuff picked from surrounding fields, as well as the restaurant’s own garden and greenhouse. The room seats perhaps 20 and reservations are a must – we made ours a month in advance. In addition to the food, the main entertainment is the three or four chefs prepping food behind the open bar. Every course is served differently and requires a lot of last-minute plating. Dill offers only prix-fixe meals and the menu changes daily. You choose three, five or all seven courses, plus five appetizers. Every course is paired with wine. We went for the full deal. Here’s just a sampling of what we ate:

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Lamb at Lava restaurant

Among the appetizers was a dish of smoked carrot, smoked mayo and sea salt. Each serving consisted of half a finger-sized carrot. It was tasty and inventive, but half a carrot – really? We also had red beet thinly sliced and formed into a thimble-sized cup filled with liver paté and sprinkled with roasted yeast, and a serving of black radish, cream cheese and crunchy toasted millet, all washed down with lovely French champagne. The most memorable mains included salt cod, parsnip, apple and cod cream, Arctic char paired with butter and birch, mushrooms and radish sliced so thinly it was translucent, and braised beef cheeks, wild mushrooms, new spuds and Arctic thyme. For dessert, there was burnt cake, whey and currants, and skyr, an Icelandic specialty somewhere between yogurt and ice cream, with roses, meadowsweet and meringue. Overall, Dill was a terrific experience, unexpected and innovative, and a chance to eat stuff I wouldn’t have otherwise. However, I’m ambivalent about whether New Nordic cuisine is worth the effort. It’s decidedly weird, yet it makes use of interesting ingredients, flavours and textures. So is New Nordic a way to make imaginative use of limited food sources? Or is it just too pretentious for words? I dunno. Fun, though.

What the locals eat Iceland was settled from Norway around 870. Those early settlers made use of every food source around, especially seafood. They also brought basic agriculture and livestock that today lives on as the Icelandic passion for lamb. Iceland is thick with free-range, classic “cartoon” sheep, fluffy and rotund with big curly horns. On the plate, they are tender and sweet – lamb for people who don’t like lamb. I had delicious lamb chops at Lava Restaurant at the Blue Lagoon natural hot pools. The chops were grilled perfectly and simply paired with artichoke purée, celeriac and spuds, and smoked hollandaise. Icelandic chefs have access to plenty of lamb and they know exactly how to treat this delicate and tasty meat. The traditional food is rather bland, since flavour enhancements tend toward herbs and salt rather than spices. That said, at Café Loki we had a hearty lamb soup loaded with root veg and lamb meatballs, with toothsome dark rye bread on the side, a meal designed to keep you warm. And there’s the quirky side of Icelandic food. You’ll find whale and puffin on many restaurant menus. We didn’t sample either, but my travel buddy, Ken, did try an Icelandic rite of passage – hákarl, fermented shark. There’s good reason to bury Greenland shark in sand and wait for it to cure (or rot, as the case may be) – the fresh meat is toxic. But no less a food dude than Anthony Bourdain once called fermented shark “the second-worst thing I ever put in my mouth.” It looks innocuous


but has a strong ammonia odour that wafts directly into your sinuses. Ken described the texture as resembling pork fat.  Luckily, the chunks are tiny and served with a glass of brennivín, an anise-flavoured liquor that kills the taste of the shark. Ken summed up the experience as “not so bad,” which, in my books, is a long way from “Wow, that’s great.”

Beer, coffee, beer, burgers, hotdogs – did I mention beer? Breweries are alive and well and plentiful in Iceland. Contemplating names like Gull, Snorri and Ulfur, you might feel like you’re ordering beer from IKEA. Many are Belgian style – very hoppy and frequently made from wheat as opposed to barley. But there are many other varieties, including some stellar India Pale Ales and lots of seasonal beers. Some we sampled: Ulfur IPA - a brilliant India Pale Ale – citrusy, classic bitter finish. Skadi Farmhouse Ale - a fruity Belgian-style brew that’s true to the style, smooth and slightly herbal. Viking Stout - from the island’s biggest brewery, therefore widely available. Not as strong as many stouts, it’s 6% alcohol, roasty and slightly smoky.

WE’RE BACK! Come visit our new digs at the recently renovated annex at Crossroads Market. And enjoy a perfect cup of coffee & YYC’s Best Carrot Cake.

PRIMAL GROUNDS CAFE, 1235 - 26 AvENUE SE

You can order a brew at a bar, café or restaurant, or drop into a beer bar where it’s all they serve. Many don’t even have snacks, just beers on tap. For a quick snack, hotdogs are the thing in Reykjavik. The best stand in town, featuring dogs made from ground pork and lamb, is Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur (translation: Town’s Best Hotdogs). You can also grab a perfectly grilled burger at Dirty Burger and Ribs, a place that looks sketchy but is actually fine and fast. The coffee scene in Reykjavik is robust and lively, and not a Starbuck’s in sight. Each café is unique. Some are quiet, others are raucous and offer all manner of live music. Some even change their spots and become bars after dark. Like Iceland itself, the country’s food requires you to have a sense of adventure – it’s not like the amazing cuisines of France, Italy or Spain. But Icelandic cuisine is a perfect reflection of the Icelandic character – quirky, adventurous and proudly traditional.

Iceland survival tips • Icelandair operates direct flights from Edmonton. • English is widely spoken and Reykjavik is very walkable. • You can’t buy Icelandic currency outside of the country. You change your Canadian money to Icelandic kronas at the airport and change back again before you leave the country. ATMs are widespread if you need more cash. • Be prepared for windy and cool weather, often rainy, even in summer. However, winter temperatures are not as cold as you might think – certainly not as extreme as those in Alberta. • Be prepared for shockingly high prices. • Renting a car is easy but so are motorcoach excursions to all parts of the island, and you get the advantage of commentary en route. You should pre-book excursions before you leave Canada, although you can easily make travel arrangements once you’re in Iceland. For example, to get a taste of the countryside, we took a day trip on a whim and experienced a huge glacier-fed lake, a cute little geyser, and Gullfoss (Golden Falls), an iconic landmark on par with our Lake Louise. Reservations are required for entry to the Blue Lagoon, a thermal pool and among National Geographic’s 20 wonders of the world. For information: Reykjavik Excursions, re.is/flybus

Restaurants: Dill Restaurant - the epitome of New Nordic cuisine in Iceland. dillrestaurant.is/en Café Loki - great spot for traditional food served by two grandmotherly ladies who are full of insight and information on Icelandic specialties. loki.is Lava Restaurant - located at the Blue Lagoon (about 45 min. from Reykjavik), a large full-service restaurant with exceptional European-style cuisine, featuring local Icelandic ingredients and seafood. bluelagoon.com/food-and-drink/lava-restaurant Dirty Burger and Ribs - the only other thing they serve is fries. Great for a quick snack and the burgers are remarkably good for a place that looks like a rough bar. dbr.is

Bars and Cafés MicroBar - up to 10 local beers on tap, selection rotates frequently. Babalù - a mellow coffee bar. C is for Cookie - sweets and light lunches plus seriously good coffee. ✤ Holly Quan was in Iceland in late August 2015 to participate in an independent theatre performance and meet her baby granddaughter for the first time. CITYPALATE.ca MARCH APRIL 2016

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DRINK, WALK, TALK

158,000 steps to Santiago de Compostela. A wine-lover’s pilgrimage story and photos by Nancy Carten

The Camino de Santiago de Compostela, also called St. James Way, is a 780-kilometre pilgrimage beginning at the base of the French Pyrenees and continuing along the northern edge of Spain practically to the Atlantic Ocean. It has been travelled since the Middle Ages by those seeking spiritual renewal, forgiveness from sin, or a way to reconnect with self. My journey, a much shorter one, was different. My first step as a “pilgrim” began, not with any life-altering intentions, but with an invitation to visit Portugal, the ancient city of Porto and the Douro Valley, as a guest of Taylor Fladgate, the famous port producer.

estate winery and eco-tourism facility located in Rias Baixas, a DOC of Galicia. Family-owned, it’s devoted primarily to the production of albariño.

Cindy Opsal, B.C. agent for Pacific Wine and Spirits, the official representative for Taylor Fladgate in western Canada, was my host. We were based at the luxurious Yeatman Hotel, a member of Relais & Châteaux, that was named in honour of Frank Yeatman, one of the original founders of the Taylor partnership. Located in Vila Nova de Gaia, each generously appointed room overlooks the Douro River and the city of Porto on the opposite side. The partnership spared no expense in creating a world-renowned facility to draw wine-loving visitors to the area.

With 90 percent of grape production devoted to white wine, it’s not surprising that the very best accompaniment to albariño is seafood. The waters off Rias Baixas teem with shellfish of every variety. Mussels are farmed offshore; in fact, we visited a mussel farm with the Costas and enjoyed a seafood feast that evening at the winery. Another delicacy of Galicia is octopus or pulpo, in Spanish. The giant sea creatures are steamed in boiling cauldrons, then their tentacles are thinly sliced, brushed with olive oil and grilled on an open flame. Another Lagar de Costa delicacy was grilled Padrón peppers (sadly, I can’t find them in Calgary). Tiny – each one just a bite – they are tossed lightly in olive oil and coarse salt and briefly grilled as an appetizer. They’re more addictive than potato chips, and every once in a while you get a hot one.

After nearly a week of visiting vineyards and tasting some truly delicious wines, my last evening in Porto, June 23, was marked by an amazing celebration. The Feast of Saint John the Baptist, Patron Saint of Porto, is purported to be one of the best street festivals in Europe. It’s a crazy night where thousands gather on both sides of the Douro and party-goers, armed with garlic flowers and small plastic hammers, enthusiastically wallop anyone in their path. The blows, to ward off evil spirits, are delivered in good fun, with laughter, and copious amounts of port wine. Best of all was the most magnificent fireworks display I’ve ever seen. Though I went to bed sad that the day had to end, I was excited about the promise of tomorrow and step two of my “Way to Santiago.” Hangover aside, I was up early to meet Miquel Coca and Patrick Webb, partners in Coca I Fito, a Spanish exporting company based in Barcelona. Miquel and I have been friends and business associates for more than a decade, and when I told him I was going to be in Portugal, he insisted we visit Galicia together. He and his brother, Tony, a winemaker of note in Catalonia, have a small vineyard that Miquel was anxious to show me. As a bonus, Patti, a friend from high school days, had arrived the evening before for the fireworks and joined Miquel, Patrick and me as we began our driving tour of the wine-growing regions of Galicia in northwestern Spain. Patti was also going to be my fellow “pilgrim” once the “drink” part of our adventure was done. Galicia is not how most of us imagine Spain. Lush and moist, with verdant rolling hills, it’s more reminiscent of the British Isles as its northern and western shores lie along the Atlantic Ocean. Until quite recently, this region was little known in the world of wine, and its most prolific grape, albariño, is just now beginning to gain status. Base camp Galicia was the charming Lagar de Costa, a third generation

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Albariño makes up more than 90 percent of all wine production in Rias Baixas, with more than 6,500 individual growers producing on 8,650 acres. If you do the math, you’ll realize most vineyards are very small. There is a romantic, and in this case appropriate, story that says albariño’s origin is actually from the riesling grape. As it’s told, German pilgrims on their walk to Santiago planted riesling vines along the way. No matter how the grape found its way to Galicia, anyone who’s enjoyed a glass of its bracing acidity, married to the charm of its viognier-like perfume, is amply rewarded. There’s also some red wine production in Rias Baixas, albeit very small. The most interesting red wine we tasted was mencia, which is very like beaujolais but with a little more structure.

Three days and nine wineries later, it was time to push on to part three of my 158,000 step journey to Santiago de Compostela. Back in Calgary, when I was finalizing my Portugal arrangements and those with Miguel in Galicia, an email arrived from a company offering self-guided walks along Spain’s Camino de Frances. I knew about the Camino and had entertained the idea of walking it many years ago, but life and work got in the way. Surely this email was a sign I couldn’t ignore! It takes at least 30 to 35 days to finish the 780 kilometres. With no time and no interest in making such a commitment, Patti and I compromised and chose to walk just the last 100K beginning in Sarria, a small town in northern Galicia not too far from where we were touring with Miquel. As a further nod to certain realities, like the abhorrent thought of carrying 17-plus kilos on our backs, we arranged to have our luggage precede us by taxi, leaving us less burdened and better able to enjoy the walk with only our day packs. Some disdainfully call this the “posh” Camino. We call it smart. And so, walking sticks in hand, water bladders filled, feet taped to avoid blisters, extra socks, raingear at the ready (it rains a lot in Galicia), power bars for emergency, insect repellent and a multitude of other “stuff” we thought we’d need, we set out early the next morning, making our way across town to find the pilgrim’s shell and yellow arrow that would be our trail guides for the next five days.


There are as many reasons for walking the Camino as there are pilgrims, and the reasons you begin with may not be with you when your journey ends. The Spanish poet, Antonio Machado, put it best: “Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar,” which translates as, “Wayfarer, there is no way, the way is made by walking.” Patti and I had five days and 100 km ahead of us. Our goal was simple: just get to the end. Removing obstacles – heavy packs and not knowing where we would sleep each night (we had hotel rooms pre-booked) – allowed us to enjoy the walk and each other’s company, worry-free. We’ve been friends for 50 years, but there was still plenty to talk about. When we weren’t talking, we enjoyed the undulating, mostly undisturbed, rural landscape. Cows grazing in pastures, or following us down a laneway, ancient hamlets, crumbling walls, 11th century churches and long-forgotten cemeteries became familiar sights. Our way was often just a dirt path, one once travelled by pilgrims and kings alike. If there were moments of reflection, they were about how small we felt in time. Averaging 20K a day, with one punishing 30K day (definitely not advised), we arrived in Santiago, and, once we hiked our way up to the old town, were immediately charmed and sorry we were flying out the next day. The 11th century cathedral, a World Heritage Site and magnificent example of both Gothic and Baroque architecture, is the supposed resting place of the remains of Saint James. We attended the pilgrims’ mass and were moved by the sheer number of wayfarers, some of whom had travelled more than 1,000 km. After a celebratory glass of champagne (ok, more than one), we had a great meal (the first in five days) with some Irish friends we’d met along our way. Enjoying copious bottles of wine, too many stories to count, and laughter that brought tears to our eyes, we sat in the evening sun, inhaling the moment.

www.wusthof.ca House of Knives Market Mall 3625 Shaganappi Trail NW Calgary

Hendrix 457 42 Ave. SE Calgary

Kitchen Boutique 212 - 1st St. W. Cochrane

Kitchen Boutique 960 Yankee Valley Blvd SE Airdrie

Zest Kitchenware Dalhousie Station Shopping Centre (North end) Unit 131, 5005 Dalhousie Drive NW, Calgary

Walking 158,000 steps (Patti had a pedometer) isn’t for everyone, but it’s probably the best way I can imagine to drink, talk and walk with a friend. Buen Camino!

Sarria to Portomarin: 30,429 Portomarin to Palas de Rei: 31,201 Palas de Rei to Arzua: 40,440 Arzua to O Pedrouzo: 28,647 O Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela: 27,985

Total steps: 1 58,702

If you think this is for you, for whatever reason (I also lost weight), there are people who can help. In Calgary, there’s a great group called the Canadian Company of Pilgrims at santiago.ca/calgaryChapter.php. Patti and I used World Walks to help with luggage transfers and hotel reservations: worldwalks.com. ✤ Nancy Carten is founder of the Kensington Wine Market and a walker, talker, drinker.

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savourfinefoods.com

Explore the fabulous flavours of Asia! CITYPALATE.ca MARCH APRIL 2016

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Thank You for Driving

A ROAD TRIP THROUGH HEAVEN INTO HELL story and photos by Kathy Richardier

The last thing the Jeep people say before they hang up is “Thank you for driving Jeep.” My friend Doug and I, who are landscape junkies, have done many terrific road trips, so maybe it was time for things to fall apart. I don’t really believe that stuff, but I could be wrong. Ever since we watched a movie starring Val Kilmer and Vincent D’Onofrio called “The Salton Sea,” we’ve been obsessed with visiting southern California’s Salton Sea, in part because it has an interesting geologic history. We thought the end of August into September of 2014 would be a good time to hop in the Jeep and head south. We started our road trip on a Saturday morning, heading west from Calgary, then south to our first stop, Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho, and Mugsie’s Bar & Grill. After we cross the border, we always look for a bar where we can hang with the locals. Not only did we get good food and drink at Mugsie’s, we got an original illustration on a bar coaster done by one of the barkeeps, an artist. The other barkeep said, “It’s signed, it’s worth a lot of money.” Score! On to Coeur d’Alene for the night where we breakfasted sumptuously at Scratch Bistro. Then, we headed west to land on the coast at Newport, Oregon, but first a stop overnight west of Salem at Dallas. Oh my goodness, sleepy little Dallas, Oregon, provided us with dinner and the next day’s breakfast at one of the tastiest places we’ve ever been to – Pressed Coffee & Wine Bar. You just never know what treasures you’ll find in small-town America. Small-town anywhere, really. At Newport, we picked up Route 101, the scenic drive south along the coast and through the big sand dunes that define Oregon’s coastline. Gold Beach was our stop for the night because Doug figured that, with such a name, there would be lots of beautiful-people beach activity. We found no beach activity at all. Down the street from our motel was Barnacle Bistro, where there was lots of activity and a good feed, but too much activity for the one cook on duty. The service was painfully slow, but the food – fish tacos and fish and chips – was fresh and tasty. The next day’s driving was particularly long because we dodged off 101 to the original Highway 1, which followed the winding rocky coastline perched high over the ocean. Just gorgeous. We came upon the hamlet of Westport and the Westport Inn promising“food and lodging,”and decided to stop. We liked the place so much we stayed the next day to explore the beaches and not drive for a full day. Perfect. The “food” part of the Westport Inn was at the General Store just down the road. For a tiny hamlet, this place had a well-outfitted deli, lots of wine and beer, and the agreeable fellow behind the counter made us a tasty pizza for dinner. He was also a philosopher of the hard-lesson sort: “Never let a meth addict work on your car,” he advised, speaking from recent personal experience. Indeed. In the morning, the Inn fed us coffee, fresh fruit and pastries, but no additional useful insights. One nifty thing about tiny Westport – pop. 225 – was the community garden – open to everyone to help themselves to cherry tomatoes, zucchini, green beans, kale, chard and lots more. On Day 6, we took leave of Westport and headed to Oxnard, just north of Los Angeles. But, first, a stop at Bodega Bay just north of San Francisco where Alfred Hitchcock’s classic horror film,“The Birds,” was filmed. Part of it was filmed at The Tides Wharf restaurant, the original one that subsequently

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burned down. It was rebuilt and we had great fish tacos and beer at its bar. Several gulls stared hard at Doug, but were otherwise harmless that day. North of the Monterey Bay area, we stopped for the night in Davenport at the charming Roadhouse Inn, a place of good food and a great bed. Breakfast was the perfect BELT – bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato – sandwich. The Bonny Doon Winery is right next door. Stop in for good wine. On the road to Oxnard, we started to clue in to California’s agriculture. In the Monterey area, the Elkhorn Native Plant Nursery featured huge fields of plastic-covered seedlings, essential to keep moisture in since water seemed hard to come by in the summer of 2014. Monterey was home to avocados, artichokes, garlic – in Gilroy – and grapefruit. And Oxnard has its onion fields. Beyond Oxnard, the small burgs of Los Alamos and Santa Maria displayed miles of grapevines heavy with fruit.

Pressed Coffee dinner

After a night in Oxnard, we headed east, away from the coast, into the ten-lane hell of Interstate 10. It took us through northern Los Angeles, travelling insanely fast, the heat clobbering us as we left the cool breezes of the coastline. Uh-oh! Mr. Jeep started overheating, so we clung to the right lane and drove more slowly, which helped a little, but was a scary thing to do in L.A. traffic. Past Palm Springs, heading toward Brawley, a burg at the south end of the Salton Sea, serious desert was being seriously irrigated. California’s Central Valley may have been in drought mode, but we eyed plenty of water-filled irrigation canals and large, open irrigation ponds. The area is filled with citrus trees and date palms. It was endlessly interesting to us to see the thriving agriculture in the bone-dry desertic surroundings of the Salton Sea.

The Saguaro is all about colour

In Brawley, we found a guy to fix the Jeep’s thermostat – that’s what he said it was. It wasn’t overheating, the thermostat needed a fix. We hung around feeling anxious. The air temp persisted at 44°C. When we left Brawley, the Jeep was still overheating and the air conditioning was shutting off. No AC in 44°C. heat is no fun. We decided to head to Palm Springs to a Jeep dealership to get the car looked at. So, we missed doing the things we wanted to do in the area, like climb the Imperial Sand Dunes to the east. Heading north to Palm Springs, we stopped into Salton City. Salton “city” was kind of what we’d expected. The older parts, near the sea, were trashy and deserted, with dead fish on the shoreline smelling grotty. Back in the ‘50s when the Salton beaches were the Salton “Riviera,” there were great things happening. They didn’t pan out for long, but today much of the “city” is a thriving community with markets, schools and realty offices. The Salton Sea’s geologic history is tremendously interesting. Google it for a good read.

Best fish tacos ever at the Saguaro

In hot but greener Palm Springs, we parked ourselves at the Saguaro Hotel, a super place that’s all about colour, fun, charming staff and super good food. I discovered the best fish tacos ever – crisp fried mahi mahi, avocado, a touch of chipotle mayo and – the best part – pickled cabbage. I don’t think I ate anything else the four days we were stuck there. Great place to be stuck, though. We were stuck, because the Crystal Chrysler dealership told us lots of stories about the Jeep, and seemed to fix lots of things, but didn’t fix what needed fixing. More hell in the hottest week of what the locals told us was the hottest summer in memory. Finally, the word was Mr. Jeep needed a new or repaired head gasket. They’d do it and we’d have it shipped by truck to Calgary.

Rio Azul parrilladas, OMG!

We flew home and it took another eight weeks to get Mr. Jeep fixed, to the tune of $3,500 U.S., after much anxiety because the dealership was really lame about communicating with us, and phone calls and emails to Jeep’s head and regional offices in Canada and the U.S. got us nowhere. Doug flew back to Palm Springs, picked up Mr. Jeep, completed our road trip home, including an investigation of Death Valley, and discovered that the cruise control had been broken and power steering fluid sprayed all over the engine because the cap had not been replaced. He wrote a detailed letter to Jeep head office, U.S.A., and we’ve never heard a peep from anyone.

“Thank you for driving Jeep.”

Rooster and the Pig crispy chicken rice paper rolls and green papaya salad


Epilogue:

We returned to Palm Springs for a week in April 2015 and rented a car to finish exploring what we’d missed because of the Jeep kerfuffle the first time around. We circumnavigated the Salton Sea, first stopping to climb a dune in the Imperial Dunes, south end of the Chocolate Mountains, and watched a parade of dust devils. It felt like we were on Mars. We headed south on the east side of the Sea and north on the west side, making a jog further west to Ocotillo Wells, a wee place devoted to its RV parks in-season. We saw a cool Osprey Tiltrotor aircraft – the engines rotate so it can function as both a helicopter and an airplane. Turns out there are military bases everywhere.

Dust Devil, Imperial Sand Dunes, California

We explored Joshua Tree Park in the Little San Bernardino Mountains to the east of Palm Springs and tootled the Geology Tour Road – lots of landscape interest. We ended up at the ancient Joshua Tree Saloon for a snack and alcohol. We had a chat with another tootling couple and found out that she was from Philadelphia, where I was born and raised. Small world. We ate and drank very well in Palm Springs. The day we arrived, we walked up the main drag, South Palm Canyon Dr., to the Blue Coyote. It was 2:30 p.m., time to get into the local scene with two big-ass margaritas that did us in. Back to the room for a nap. Later, back on the main drag, we sat at Las Consuelas bar – a very fun place – and drank more big-ass margaritas. We had food at these places, but I’m damned if I remember what. Booze defined day 1.

TAYLOR FLADGATE 1966 SINGLE HARVEST PORT Star Trek makes its debut, Montreal Canadiens win the Stanley Cup and Taylor Fladgate 1966 Single Ha Harvest Port starts its journey.

95PTS

Wine Enthusiast

Across from our hotel – the comfortable and inexpensive Comfort Inn – were two of the best places to eat in this burg: Rio Azul, a Mexican bar and grill, and Rooster & The Pig, a Vietnamese restaurant. Joshua Tree Saloon

The Salton Sea at Salton City

Wine and beer at Rio Azul accompanied our parrilladas – OMG, nothing like this in Calgary that we know of – a combination of chicken, beef, quail, bacon-wrapped shrimp stuffed with jalalpeño and jack cheese, and citrus shrimp, all grilled to slightly blackened, then served atop a bed of grilled onions and peppers. Wrap it up in flour and corn tortillas. Fajitas on steroids. Rooster & The Pig seduced us with its name, then with its food. Pork belly lettuce wraps, F.O.B. fish (fresh off the boat, changes daily) turned out to be flash-fried crisp cod served with forbidden rice – black rice that’s served to royalty only; I guess we were royalty! – crispy chicken rice paper rolls and green papaya salad with apples, mint, basil and crispy shallots. Perfect fresh food. Along the main drag was a lot of good eating, including a charming Japanese izakaya called Gyoro Gyoro, and a swank, sexy place called Fame Wine & Cigar Bar, decked out with leather sofas and chairs. We sat at the bar and drank wine, then two guys smoking cigars came in to play chess. If you don’t like the cigars, you can sit on a small patio on the street. We liked the air con so we stayed with the cigars.

Skull Rock, Joshua Tree

Day last, we fed ourselves very well at the Comfort Inn’s generously outfitted breakfast buffet – waffles, pancakes, omelets, fruit, muffins, and much more, all very fresh – and exited Palm Springs, having completed more of the heavenly part of our road trip to hell. Maybe “road trip through hell” better describes it, because in the end, we had a “helluva” good trip, not including the Jeep peeps. ✤

Breakfast + Lunch

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Tokyo’s Theme Restaurants

Tokyo’s Theme Restaurants by Barbara Balfour

It had been weeks since I’d landed in Tokyo, but I still couldn’t shake off the semi-lucid, dream-like state that enveloped me. As I repeatedly questioned reality through scenarios both weird and wonderful, I finally realized I couldn’t blame it on the jet lag any more. While the 16-hour time difference found me regularly scarfing sashimi at 4 a.m. from the excellent 24-hour chain, Sushi Zanmai – a favourite of Lady Gaga’s whenever she’s in town – that wasn’t what was making me feel like Alice in Wonderland. Tokyo – a metropolis of 13 million – is not just a haven for Michelin-starred restaurants and the foreign outposts of acclaimed pastry chefs such as Pierre Hermé, Joël Robuchon and, most recently, legendary cronut inventor, Dominique Ansel. It’s also a centre for bizarre, creative, and completely far-out dining experiences – if you can dream it, chances are, you’ll find it here. After all, this is where public toilets offer a choice of ocean waves or symphony music to drown the call of nature, and “talking” garbage disposal trucks blare high-pitched, cartoon-like voices from their loudspeakers. It’s where you can pick from a plethora of cafés, where young girls in maid costumes serve stern businessmen cupcakes in the shape of smiley faces. For an extra 1,000 yen, or about $10 CDN, some offer the option of having the “maids” feed you. If you’ve always wanted to sip a latte with a live owl perched on your head, or dine at a restaurant where the menu is all about toast, there’s no better place to do so than Tokyo. Here are a few of my most memorable – and surreal – dining experiences in this Japanese city. 1) At La Cantine Centre in Tokyo’s fashionable Ginza neighbourhood, about $20 (1,700 yen) will get you a deluxe toast taster set and your pick of 15 different toasters, which you choose from a shelf and plug in at your table. Nestled in between tables of fashionably dressed ladies who lunch, I became a toast connoisseur, comparing Japanese, British and Canadian styles of bread for their chewiness, elasticity, and crunch. The trio of toast is served with three generous pats of butter – a generic Japanese variety, lightly salted Echiré from France (the world’s most expensive butter) and rich, creamy butter from the northern island of Hokkaido, an area renowned for high quality dairy products. I also got a tray loaded with flavoured honeys, artisanal jams and nut-based spreads. My hot pink toaster – chosen for its colour rather than its technical prowess – had a happy face sticker on it to indicate the optimum temperature setting for the perfect slice of toast. The bakery churns out 900 loaves of bread a day, for which the lineup will snake outside the door and down the block. Don’t make the mistake of waiting there, but head straight into the café, where you can also choose from a substantial toasted sandwich menu. 2) Tokyo takes intimate, dimly lit bars to the next level in the historic neighbourhood of Golden Gai, where, crammed into a space the size of a football field, more than 200 tiny watering holes will make you feel you have the entire place to yourself. Some seat as few as two, and all have their own theme, ranging from flamenco music and photography to horror movies and old-school video games. But my favourite micro bar was the one owned by mixologist Gen Yamamoto, located not in Golden Gai but in the Minato neighbourhood, where he serves artisanal cocktails atop a bar made from a 500-year-old Mongolian oak tree. Reservations are essential, as the bar only seats eight, and the menu offers only two options: a taster set of four cocktails that will set you back about $54 (4,500 yen), or $77 for six (6,500 yen). Ingredients range from kiwi fruit native to the Shizuoka region of Japan to quince and Granny Smith apples from Nagano. Everything is locally sourced, down to the silverware and glasses. Each beverage is served to me on a sleek black tray, decorated with a perfectly unblemished bunch of lilac-coloured hydrangeas. On this sweltering summer day, I tasted fresh green plum juice mixed with shochu, an icy watermelon granita served with a tiny silver spoon, and sake blended with the tiny, white-fleshed peach-pineapple native to the Japanese island of Okinawa. 3) By now you may have already heard of Japan’s ubiquitous cat cafés, a trend that has spread throughout Europe and North America, including several Canadian cities. But there are also cafés where you can enjoy the company of feathered friends. Think of them as petting farms for adults. Called Toro no Iru cafés, or bars where birds are present, you can choose between owls, parrots and even penguins while sipping on your cappuccino, beer or green tea. At Fukoro no Mise, located in Tokyo’s Tsukishima area, I lined up at 1 p.m. to make a reservation for later that day, which included a drink at the price of 2,200 yen ($26). Here the baristas double as owl handlers, placing the owl you choose from more than 20 perched around the room, on your arm, shoulder, or even your head. The owls, which range from tiny babies to great horned owls, have all been born and raised in captivity. None of them are caged, though they all have a tether around one foot. After a tiny, silent owl was placed on my wrist for a few minutes, I worked up the courage to request a much larger bird on my shoulder where it sat, Buddha-like, observing the room by swivelling its head a full 270 degrees. 4) Halloween lovers, rejoice – in Tokyo, you can celebrate 365 days a year by dining while handcuffed in a prison cell, being served by silent assassins or chowing down on cake in the shape of coffins. The LockUp is a prison-themed eatery with several locations in Shibuya and Shinjuku. Once I’d passed through the house of horrors still in one piece, I found myself in need of a drink and you likely will, too. On the cocktail menu, you’ll find libations with names such as Medusa’s Eyeball and Pink Vaccine, while the izakaya-style food features items like skeleton-shaped hamburgers. If you think that’s tame, Alcatraz ER definitely takes things to the next level. This prison hospital-themed restaurant in Shibuya gets pretty gory – blood-smeared walls, cocktails served in life-sized mannequin heads and server interaction that includes having male diners’ pants pulled down and their bums “injected” with a giant fake syringe. It just might make you lose your appetite. It made me lose mine. For more family-friendly outings, Ninja Akasaka might be more appropriate. Hidden doorways and trapdoors, wandering magicians and staff dressed as ninjas who pull out swords from various menu items will not fail to delight. The best part is that the experience doesn’t eclipse the food; the scroll-shaped menus include offerings such as foie gras, ceviche and wagyu beef, which arrive creatively plated and well-prepared. ✤ Barbara Balfour is a freelance writer, TV host and producer, whose favourite Japanese food is shaved ice made from mountain spring water and topped with sticky mango slices. Thanks to weirdjapan.org for the bottom 3 photos, where cameras were not allowed.

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10 Things I Learned at Blanca by Jeff Lusis, the 2014 winner of City Palate’s culinary travel grant.

1. 2. Jeff Lusis – pla ting at Blanc a

I left Model Milk for a onemonth stage at Blanca, a two-Michelin-star restaurant in Brooklyn, New York City. It serves up to 26 people a night in two sittings, Wednesday through Saturday. Blanca’s roots are Italian, but the 22course tasting menu is not confined to Italian cuisine. Guests started with a kumamoto oyster dressed with charred asparagus juice cut with beef fat and juice from a finger lime. Other courses included dry-aged beef sliced thin, warmed over charcoal and served with a dot of yogurt, castelfranco radicchio and a grating of black truffle. One of three pasta courses was a take on carbonara with cured lamb breast and mint seasoned heavily with tellicherry peppercorns. King Crab that was alive upon guests’ arrival and on display was simply steamed and served with a bottarga and butter sauce spooned out of the crab’s body and onto the diner’s plate. The last savoury course was two-week dry-aged duck served with an aged mole cut with beet purée and a perfect segment of cara cara orange. Dessert included a sour cream ice cream with a caramelized cippolini onion crumb. After the last dessert was served, guests were treated to a cup of tea, vintage 1984.

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3. 4.

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7.

8. 9. 10.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Blanca is located inside Roberta’s pizza restaurant compound in the Bushwick neighbourhood. Since opening, Roberta’s has expanded to include a rooftop garden, Tiki Bar, a raw bar, Roberta’s Take Away, Roberta’s Bakery, and Blanca. The layout of the compound is simple. A central courtyard that is accessible out the back door of Roberta’s allows access for customers to the Tiki Bar and the raw bar. A short walk across the courtyard is Blanca’s entrance. The Take Away is located next door to Roberta’s and has its own street access. Although I was there to work at Blanca, the movement of staff was fluid from building to building and I worked with Roberta’s staff, from sharing prep space to eating staff meals. Location. Restaurant location is everything. If your location isn’t everything, then you need to make it everything. Carlo Mirachi and his partners opened Roberta’s in Bushwick when the area was primarily warehouses and not easily accessible. Roberta’s opened, and over time, it transitioned from a neighbourhood restaurant to a destination restaurant. Roberta’s is now part of a thriving scene in Bushwick and can definitely take some of the credit for helping to carve the path for other restaurants and businesses that later opened in the area. Be worth the wait. Both Roberta’s and Blanca have created an experience people are willing to wait for. Roberta’s doesn’t take reservations but was always full at dinner and brunch with a line-up of people waiting to dine. This kept turnover rates high and seats full. On the other hand, Blanca filled its reservations a month in advance and sold out every sitting. The different reservation systems for each restaurant were important in creating and maintaining the right atmosphere. A forno oven is really all you need. The Roberta’s property had three forno (wood-fired) ovens plus a mobile one. If a dish could be cooked in the forno – it was. From toasting flour for orecchiette to roasting potatoes during service, the flavour the forno oven lends to food is incomparable. Branding is key. Roberta’s is much more than a restaurant. With its art department collaborating on clothing with local artists to creating a space for street artists to write murals, the Roberta’s compound is a continuously evolving art installation. It has created a brand and that brand is well recognized. Keep staff happy. It’s critical to instill a sense of pride in your employees. It may seem like a pretty obvious part of running a business, but Roberta’s manages to attract people who fit in and work well within the company. This was something that became obvious as my time at Blanca went on. Everyone on the compound was part of the Roberta’s team and there was a deep sense of pride in that. Stay hungry. Even after 22 courses, the guests at Blanca needed to not be overly full. One of the first menu changes at Blanca I saw included removing two dishes and reducing portion sizes on some dishes, ensuring guests were comfortable throughout their dinner but still left feeling satisfied. Being able to enjoy the last bite of a meal allows you to reflect on the entire meal instead of focusing on the fact that you’re full. Sometimes, guests were brought a pizza from Roberta’s Take Away and a tallboy of Budweiser to curb any lingering hunger! Pizza brings people together. Eating at Roberta’s was fun. The atmosphere, the drinks and the food were all amazing, but it was the pizza that made the place an experience. “Pizza” was also served at Blanca. A portion of pizza dough was slapped out, fired, dressed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, ripped, and placed on the diner’s plate as the bread course. It was a nod to Blanca’s roots. This had a big impact on me, because I saw Blanca humbly acknowledge where it came from every time that course was served. When in New York, use the subway. It was the easiest way to get around the city, thanks to the many apps assisting me in navigating around Brooklyn and Manhattan. Taxis and Uber are convenient, but were sometimes slow and expensive, depending on the time of day. If you go to midtown, don’t look up. Midtown Manhattan is fast paced and stopping to look up at the skyscrapers will be received poorly by the thousands you are sharing the sidewalk with. ✤


stockpot

STIRRINGS AROUND CALGARY

JOIN US THURSDAY, JUNE 16th 7pm at HOTEL ARTS

city palate’s

pig & pinot SIXTH ANNUAL

12 talented chef teams compete for the coveted “Divine Swine” trophy, sponsored by Alberta Pork, as they create delicious and original pork dishes, with free-range pork from Spragg’s. And nothing pairs better with the perfect porcine than the perfect pinot! 5 boutique wine stores will pour an amazing selection of pinot wines from around the world. And you get to taste it all! A sell-out event every year, get your tickets early: pigandpinotcalgary.eventbrite.ca - $130. A FUNDRAISING EVENT IN SUPPORT OF MEALS ON WHEELS.

Alberta Theatre Projects Presents Celebrity Hors d’Oeuvres, April 16, 6:30 pm at Willow Park Wines & Spirits, 10801 Bonaventure Dr. SW. Some of Calgary’s hottest restaurants are paired with local celebrities in an all-out race to tempt you with extraordinary culinary delights. It’s fast! It’s furious! It’s Calgary’s Famous Food Frenzy! The $100 ticket price includes all hors d’oeuvres and beverage pairings! Tickets and info at atplive.com/whats-on/celebrity-hors-doeuvres and 403-294-7402.

restaurant ramblings ■ The Visa Infinite Dining Series presents: March 15, dinner at Whitehall with chef/ownr Neil McCue and chef Ryan O’Flynn presenting the best of Britain; April 10, three seminars at the East Village Simmons Building: hand-crafted coffee making with Phil & Sebastian; artisanal baking at Sidewalk Citizen Bakery and butchery and barbecue skills at charbar; April 28, Mexican heat meets Calgary cool at Rouge Restaurant; May 1, Sunday brunch Italian style at Cucina Market Bistro; May 11, dinner with an all-star chef roster – Matthew Batey, Justin Labossiere, Nicole Gomes, Duncan Ly, Neil McCue, Nick Nutting, Hayato Okamitsu and Michael Noble – at The Nash and Off Cut Bar. Details and tickets at 1-888-711-9399, visainfinite.ca/dining ■ Ten Foot Henry is now one of Calgary’s favourite new restaurants. Located in the up-and-coming neighbourhood of Victoria Park, Ten Foot Henry is an all day eatery that offers a vegetable-anchored menu and family-style dining. Lead by chef Stephen Smee (Ox & Angela) and his wife and partner Aja Lapointe, Ten Foot Henry bridges the gap between what you should be eating and what you really want to eat. Check it out at tenfoothenry.com. In the spring, look for Little Henry, Ten Foot Henry’s grab-and-go coffee shop. ■ Recently opened is Full Circle Pizza and Oyster Bar, owned and operated by Amelia and Joshua Stoddart, most recently heading the kitchen and wine program at Sugo Italian restaurant. Many of the pizzas are focused on seafood – yum! Also, look for menu items reminiscent of their childhood, such as canned oysters and campfire s’mores! Gotta check this out at #100, 933 - 17 Ave SW, 587-351-3141, fullcirclepizza.ca ■ Happy 25th Anniversary Good Earth Coffeehouse! Do you want to join in the celebrations? Have you been a frequent customer to your neighbourhood Good Earth over the years? Want a chance to win a $25 Good Earth Gift Card? Just share your story, and or video of a special experience and or memory from your Good Earth visit at @GoodEarthHQ or at goodearthcoffeehouse.com/25years

■ Yay! The Block Kitchen and Lounge is now open after extensive renovations post-hailstorm flooding last August. Norma Jean and Kai Salimaki (Mr. Chef) are happy to be up and running, making their great food again. Also, a bit of a good change – the restaurant is separated from the lounge, so families can bring their children to eat, too. Kids should eat this good food, for sure. And look for new items on the menu. Check it out, they’re all ready for you! ■ Anju restaurant will be involved with Carnival Cocktails for Cancer, Legacy Gala, Brewery & the Beast, Big Taste, Pig & Pinot. A Monday Night Chef Competition, called Aza Aza, FIGHT! will take place the last Monday of every month. A guest chef will pick a dish and two versions will be made, one by guest chef, the other by Anju’s chef/owner, Roy Oh. The dishes will be sold to the public (along with the regular menu) as a duo, which will include one ballot. The competition runs 5-10 p.m., and at 10 the ballots are counted and a winner is declared! $2 from every duo sold goes to Mealshare. A good, fun night! ■ Celebrate the Spring Equinox on March 20 with some of Calgary’s top chefs! Executive chef Jamie Harling of Rouge Restaurant joins chefs from Bistro Rouge, Catch, charbar, The Nash, Oyster Tribe and Whitehall for an evening of culinary delights and community connection. Dinner will take place at Rouge and include cocktails and oysters in the garden followed by a five-course dinner in support of the city’s new Alex Community Food Centre. The Alex CFC is building a community centre that works to bring people together to grow, cook, share and advocate good food for all. Tickets are $200 at events@ rougecalgary.com or 403.531.2767. ■ Brought to you by Monsoon Concepts Inc. Oohmami Pares House & Noodle Bar, 2711 - 17th Ave. SW in Killarney, presents an innovative and contemporary style of Filipino Cuisine. Incorporating familiar Filipino flavours without intimidating North American palates with menu items such as pork belly bao sliders and the O.G.Beef Pares

(48-hour braised beef brisket), which is complemented by its selection of San Miguel Beers. Old school Hip Hop music is played all day by DJ Pump. Call 587352-0057 and follow on Instagram @ oohmamiyyc & Oohmami on Facebook. ■ What is “sarap”? It’s a FIlipino word for delicious. SarapYYC’s goal is to put Filipino cuisine on the forefront of Calgary’s food scene through guerilla pop-up kitchens, events and collaborations with local chefs. Watch for the next pop-up event in Mid-April, a collaboration with Eats of Asia, Bro’kin Yolk and Manila Nights of Winnipeg. For more info, follow on Instagram @ SarapYYC or on Facebook SarapYYC and monsoonconcepts.com ■ What’s going on at the tasty Hotel Arts’ restaurants: A new dynamic duo at Chef’s Table, Kensington Riverside Inn – Chef de Cuisine Sean Cutler and Maître de Maison Matt Holly. Chef was most recently at Heritage Park’s Selkirk Grille. Monday through Wednesday,

Chef’s Table features half-price bottles of wine. During Big Taste Calgary, on March 9, dine on four courses of Vietmodern cuisine at the award-winning Raw Bar, plus wine pairings and hand-crafted cocktails. Yellow Door Bistro invites you to indulge in the daily chef’s collection, a three-course or five-course dinner accompanied by wine pairings. When the Flames play on home ice, Hockey Night at Yellow Door Bistro offers a pre-game meal as well as complementary parking for the game. Easter offers brunch at Yellow Door Bistro and a special menu at Chef’s Table. ■ Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, the LeBron James-backed fast casual pizza, has opened in Calgary by Sunridge Mall next to Five Guys and near Buffalo Wild Wings. In July, Blaze will open a second restaurant at 2020 - 4th St. SW. Blaze offers custom-built pizzas, freshly made salads, blood orange lemonade and s’mores pies. The interactive opencontinued on page 42

Thank you

for sharing the first 25 years of this amazing culinary journey Join us in continued celebration of local, seasonal and regional cuisine

Lunch, Dinner, Weekend Brunch Afternoon Retreat

403-261-7670 river-cafe.com

continued on page 42

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kids can cook

Pierre Lamielle

stockpot continued from page 41 kitchen format allows you to customize one of the menu’s pizzas or create your own, choosing from a wide selection of ingredients, all for about $8. Sounds fun to us, and kids will love it! ■ Alforno Bakery & Café is officially open! Enjoy eggs benedict and ricotta hotcakes in the mornings or daily drink features at night! Pop in on Wednesdays and enjoy 1/2 price bottles of wine! Located at 222 - 7th Street SW by the Peace Bridge. Live Music Thursdays at Vendome! Enjoy a 7 p.m. show, with drink features from 4-8 p.m. Know an artist who wants to play a gig? Give Vendome a call at 403-453-1140. ■ On March 16, Tango Bistro hosts a wine dinner featuring Yalumba Vineyards, Australia’s oldest family-owned winery. Enjoy a delish five-course dinner paired with wine. The event starts at 6:30. Tickets are $70, including tax and gratuity. Phone 403-252-4365 or email rich@tangobistro.com for tickets. ■ Earth Day Canada (EDC), with support from the RBC Foundation and Mill Street Brewery, has chosen River Café as EDC’s 2015 Hometown Heroes Small Business Award winner. River is dedicated to featuring quality ingredients from local gardens and farms in Alberta. Through an organizational philosophy that values sustainability, River aims to continuously improve its internal business practices to protect the natural environment and promote a healthy community and economy. River has also worked to educate the local community – one of its major accomplishments is a 2008 carbon footprint study. Through the study, River learned of inefficiencies in its local supply chain. By sharing the results with its community of farmers, it influenced changes. Other successes include a public relations campaign that brought the Ocean Wise program to Alberta and a waste audit and public food waste campaign. The Small Business Award winner receives a $5,000 cash prize that must be used to make an operational change that results in the business lessening its environmental impact. River Café will be presented its award at Earth Day Canada’s Gala on Earth Day (April 22) in Toronto. ■ The much-anticipated Shokunin, chef Darren MacLean’s restaurant, is up and running at 2016 - 4th St. SW. Yay! Chef did a wonderfully creative food job at Downtownfood, but it was Japanese-influenced food that interested him most, so – ta-da! – contemporary Japanese dining, tapas-style plates to be shared over a bottle of sake. But go to the Facebook page instead of the web site for more information, facebook,com/ ShokuninYYC

wine (and beer) wanderings ■ Don’t miss Calgary Co-op Wine Spirits Beer’s anticipated yearly Grape Escape, Wine, Spirits & Beer Festival, always a fun event at the BMO Centre, Stampede Park, March 18 & 19, 5-9 pm, $65, tickets at all Co-op Wine Spirits Beer locations.

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■ VR Wine, a boutique wine store sibling to the Vin Room restaurants, has teamed up with Drycleaning by Dave, a familyrun business that has served Calgarians with couture dry cleaning services for more than four decades, to offer artisan wine, craft beer and premium spirits delivery alongside dry cleaning pick up and drop off. Cut down on the number of errands you have to run by ordering wine to be delivered along with your Drycleaning by Dave, no charge. Place orders online at vrwine.com or call 587-3538814. Also, Vin Room offers a designated driving service with WeDD to get you and your car home for only $20.

■ Alberta Beer Festivals strives to educate Albertans on all things beer. Every year, Alberta Beer Festivals partners with the Olds College Brew Master Program to brew a beer to celebrate the upcoming beer festival season. This beer will be launched at the beginning of April and available at all Craft Beer Market and Beer Revolution locations in Calgary. The beer will also be available to sample at the Calgary International Beerfest, May 6 and 7, BMO Centre, Stampede Park ■ The 2nd Annual Carnival Cocktails for Cancer takes place May 1 at Hotel Arts, featuring some of Alberta’s most talented bartenders and chefs preparing cocktails and food inspired by classic carnival fairs. Proceeds support clinical trials at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. Details at carnivalcocktails.ca ■ Neither wine nor beer – Made in Quebec, look for tasty Chic Choc Spiced Rum (Chic Choc are Quebec mountains). With a spicy nose, Chic Choc has a round and balanced palate with a rich texture, notes of vanilla, ginger and Nordic spices. A supple attack leaving a long, warm and pleasant mouthfeel. Good stuff, drink “local,” get some!

■ The Cookbook Co. Cooks: Food and Wine of Sicily: Italian Feasting; A Night Out: Couples Cooking Classes; Thai Classics; Caramel Workshop; Native Tongues Taqueria: A Taco Party!; Sunday Projects: Essentials of Roasting & Baking; Specialty Dinner: Black Hills Winery & Our Daily Brett; A Girl and her Greens & Grains: Gluten Free; An Ethiopian Menu; Vegan Mediterranean; What Nicole Ate On the Weekend, with Nicole Gomes, chef and owner, Nicole Gourmet Catering. Complete calendars at cookbookcooks.com, register at 403-265-6066. ■ Meez Fast Home Cuisine’s chef Judy Wood reserves Thursday nights for you! Get inspired with hands-on cooking classes hosted by chef Judy every Thursday evening, 6-9 p.m. Sign up in-store or call 403-264-6336. Pop into the store in Willow Park Village and check out single-serving meals and new green salads. ■ SAIT’s Downtown Culinary Campus: Knife Skills, March 2; Herbs & Spices, March 9; East Coast, March 16; Savoury Brunch, March 23; Mexican, March 31; Advanced Cooking, April 4-25; Date Night, April 15; Alsatian, April 27. SAIT’s Main Campus: Vegetarian, March 9; Caribbean, March 10; Introduction to Cooking, March 12 & 19; Gluten Free Sweet, March 15; France, March 31; Sushi, April 8; Fondant, April 9; Intermediate Cooking, April 9 & 16; Baking Cakes, April 16. Visit culinarycampus.ca for details and more courses.

general stirrings ■ Don’t miss all the tasty food happenings at our great restaurants during Calgary’s Big Taste Foodie Festival, March 4 to 13. Check out all the participants at bigtastecalgary.com and #bigtasteyyc.

■ Amaranth Whole Foods Markets have partnered with Renew Life Probiotics and “Calgary’s Chief Fermenting Officer,” Luka Symons, to give away three home sauerkraut-making parties. Move over book clubs! What could be more foodie fun than an evening of fermenting and friendly bacteria discussion? Enter before March 31st at the Amaranth location of your choice! ■ WinSport launches ticket sales for the WinSport Legacy Gala, which takes place on April 14 at the Markin MacPhail Centre. The third annual Legacy Gala will feature some of the best cuisine in the city prepared by more than a dozen of Calgary’s most distinguished chefs. Guests will join Olympians in a vintage circus-themed evening where they’ll indulge in the chefs’ delicacies, witness jaw-dropping bizarre circus acts and partake in authentic midway games and a live auction. Tickets are $200 at ticketmaster.ca. WinSport executive chef Liana Robberecht joins an all-star cast of chefs, including, Roy Oh (Anju), Pierre A. Lamielle (Top Chef Canada and Chopped Canada), Judy Wood (Meez Cuisine), Rogelio Herrera (Alloy), Andrea Harling (Made Foods), Cam Dobranski (Brasserie Kensington), Nicole Fewell (Porter’s Tonic), Duncan Ly (Vintage Group), Jamie Harling (Rouge), Connie DeSousa and Jessica Pelland (CHARCUT / Charbar) and more.

Our housemade Indian tea starts with the best spices.

Mr. Knifewear, Kevin Kent, received a Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation, awarded to individuals and groups with outstanding achievements in international fields, to acknowledge their contributions to the promotion of friendship between Japan and other countries. Only about 100 are awarded every year, globally.(Kent specializes in beautifully made Japanese knives.)

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Great coffee, tea and conversation. 19

■ Big Rock Brewery’s Signature Series Citradelic Single Hop Citra IPA, full of the smooth citrus and tropical tones of the citra hops, from B.C. brewmaster Jody Hammell, is now available in Calgary. You will also be interested in the weird, wonderful and kinda freaky label – Citradelic, indeed! We love it. The hops are grown in Washington’s Yakima Valley, one of the most fertile and productive hop-growing regions in the world.

■ Nutrition and Culinary Solutions: Hands-on healthy cooking, March 14, learn healthy cooking skills, ideally suited for people with little or no cooking experience; Everyday Mediterranean Cooking, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, proteins, fats, mindful enjoyment, April 21; How to love Vegetables, June 1. Details and registration at nutritionandculinarysolutions.ca/ncs-calendar

■ If you love good local food, visit the Innisfail Growers’ booth at the Calgary Farmers’ Market for some of the best the area has to offer! Enjoy winter storage vegetables, homemade pickles and preserves, Angus beef, handmade pies and crisps and more! Open Thursday-Sunday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. To learn more, visit InnisfailGrowers.com

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■ Wild Rose Brewery launched Alberta’s first readily available sour beer – Cowbell! This unique “sour” style of beer is brewed using the “kettle souring” technique. Flavoured with kaffir lime leaves, it has a bold taste that is tangy, tart and refreshing. We love to take a world favourite, add a wild twist, and brew a seasonal beer – Belgian Style Pale Ale. This amber coloured pale ale features a Belgian yeast that delivers a bit of spice and is perfectly balanced by toasty amber malts and just the right amount of hops. Another delicious adventure on the Wild frontier of beer. Released into the Wild on January 21st

cooking classes

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1614 9th street sw (just off 17th ave)

■ Made Foods has launched a new menu, the second since opening in October 2015. The prepackaged foodto-go company has changed the menu to include an à-la-carte selection. Chef Andrea Harling has designed the new menu to include smaller mix-and-match items, including soups, salads and wraps. Made Foods will also launch a line of kids’ meals, perfect for moms on the go! Order online madefoods.com ■ ‘Tis the season for delicious hot cross buns coming down the highway, yay! COBS Bread hot cross buns are baked from scratch, fresh every day, a delicious treat during the Easter season. Try all of these – traditional fruit for the classic hot cross bun connoisseur, filled with raisins, currants and mixed spice; cranberry orange with tart cranberries and zesty orange, traditional with a twist; and chocolate lovers get theirs, too, packed with mini chocolate chips.

Celebrating Bartender David Carruthers A recent evening at Cilantro was made all the better because of the great service, good humour and attention to detail from David Carruthers, the new bartender. David made perching at the bar drinking cocktails a really enjoyable experience. He looked after us without invading our privacy. By the end of the night, we felt so well taken care of we told David what a pleasure it was to meet him. That led to some fun conversation and several more reservations at the bar since that night. Thanks, David, for a memorable evening. City Palateer Liz Tompkins

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Join us! If you have a thirst for travel and an appetite for adventure, then you’ll love our culinary escapes to Tuscany and the south of France!

6 quick ways with...

Chris Halpin

GRAPES

People rarely think of using grapes as a cooking ingredient, other than in a salad or frozen as a summer treat. For some reason, I’m particularly drawn to them in spring or while I’m anticipating spring. pistachio chèvre grapes This is one of those hors d’oeuvres that’s so easy and yet tastes complex. Wash, dry and refrigerate 24 grapes. Put 1 c. chèvre, 1 t. ground coriander, 1/2 t. white pepper into a bowl and mix well. Put 1 c. pistachios, ground or crushed medium-fine, into another bowl. Remove the grapes from the fridge, coat each grape with some of the chèvre mixture, then roll in the pistachios and place on a platter. This can be done up to two days before serving. Makes 24.

beef, grape and asparagus salad with horseradish dressing

Hosted by Judy Wood and Gail Norton

tilapia in a grape beurre blanc

Booking now for 2016:

France Food and Wine Tour: May 15th – 22nd

SOLD OUT!

France Food, Wine and Cycling Tour: May 23rd – 30th ONLY 2 SPOTS LEFT with cycling guides Kevin Elander and Johnny Halliday Tuscan Food and Wine Tour: October 9th – 16th

ONLY 4 SPOTS LEFT

Tuscan Food and Wine Tour: October 17th – 24th

ONLY 2 SPOTS LEFT

We are all things culinary... A kitchen and food specialty store A catering company A cooking school

THE COOKBOOK CO. COOKS

722-11th Avenue SW Phone 403-265-6066, ext. 1 Check all the delicious details at cookbookcooks.com 44

CITYPALATE.ca MARCH APRIL 2016

This is perfect for the bits left from a roast. To make the dressing, put into a large bowl 1/2 c. mayonnaise, 1 T. horseradish, 1 t. honey and 2 T. cider vinegar. Mix well. Cut 1 bunch of asparagus into 2-inch pieces, after removing the tough bottom of the stalks. Place in a colander and pour boiling water over them, then rinse under cold water and blot dry. Add the asparagus to the bowl with the dressing, then add 4 c. roast beef strips and 1 c. small red grapes. Mix well and add salt to taste. Serve on a bed of red kale, watercress or arugula. Serves 4.

There are a few things to keep in mind when making beurre blanc. The wine needs to boil, the butter needs to be very cold and you need to whisk in one cube of butter at a time. Also, this is not a sauce that will hold for long – the flavours are as elusive as the texture – so make it and enjoy it. In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, put 1 bottle of white wine, 1 bay leaf, 6 black pepper corns, 1 sprig of tarragon and 1 garlic clove, cracked. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Add 4 tilapia filets and poach for 2 minutes on each side. Remove the fish and set aside for later. Strain the wine and return it to the pan. Place over high heat and whisk in 1 c. cold butter, cubed, one cube at a time. Once the sauce has thickened, add salt to taste, 1 c. halved grapes, the fish, and remove from the heat. Serve over couscous or rice and garnish with chopped tarragon. Serves 4.


lamb sausages with rosemary and grapes Merguez sausage is my favourite lamb sausage. You can find it at Middle Eastern shops or at The Cookbook Co., but you can also use any spicy sausage you like. Globe grapes are perfect for this recipe, as they tend to have seeds, which I think add to the savouriness. They’re large and hold up well to heat. In a pan over medium-high heat, put 1 T. butter and 1 T. olive oil. When sizzling, add 8 sausages, 2 onions, finely sliced, and 2 rosemary sprigs. Turn sausages from time to time and sauté the onion. When the sausages are almost cooked, in about 10 minutes, add 3 globe grapes per person. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and salt to taste. Serves 4 to 6.

grape and mascarpone torte This is so simple and elegant it will make your head spin. I love President’s Choice all-butter puff pastry. Preheat your oven to 375°F. You’ll need 3 c. grapes, halved. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out 1 sheet thawed puff pastry to 1/3 larger. Place it on a baking sheet, evenly smear it with mascarpone, leaving about 2 inches on all sides. Lightly sprinkle 1/2 t. nutmeg, over the mascarpone, arrange the grapes on top of the cheese, then fold the 2 inches of pastry edge over to the mascarpone and grapes. Lightly brush the edge with milk and generously sprinkle 1/2 c. sugar over the grapes – don’t worry if some hits the pastry! Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the crust is a golden brown; serve warm. Serves 6 to 8.

recipe photos by Chris Halpin

small batch grape jelly For this recipe to work correctly, you must have organic unwashed grapes. If you wash them, then you remove the pectin, if they are not organic, then there may be some unpleasant chemical. My first choice of grape variety for jelly is concord. If they are not available, any dark-skinned grape will do. To prep the jars, have a pot large enough to immerse four 1/2 c. or two 1 c. jars and lids, fill with water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat off, add the jars and lids and set aside for later. In another pot, put 4 c. grapes, stems removed, 1 c. water, 3 c. sugar and juice of 1 lemon. Place over medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. Just before the jelly is ready, with a pair of tongs carefully remove the jars and lids from the water and place them upside down on a cooling rack to drain. When the jelly is ready, strain it and pour into the prepared jars. Seal snugly with the lids, allow the jelly to cool on the counter overnight. If the lids pop down and seal the jars, there’s no need to refrigerate them, but store them in a cool place, like the basement. If the lids don’t seal, into the fridge they go. Makes 2 cups. Chris Halpin has been teaching Calgarians to make fast, fun urban food since 1997 and is the owner of Manna Catering Service.

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back burner SHEWCHUK ON SIMMER

Allan Shewchuk

FOOD PIRATES

One of the joys of Christmas for me is the annual book from my sister-in-law revolving around food. The subjects have been as varied as the autobiography of a chef, a compilation of award-winning food writing, and a cookbook with a storyline to go along with the recipes. As she is a fabulous writer and foodie in her own right, I have always been grateful to receive her interesting choices. Until this year, that is. This yuletide’s offering was entitled Anything That Moves, and the subject matter, as the name implies, is people who are in the vanguard of the new culinary movement to eat anything, especially if it’s exotic or forbidden.

THE G A LLE T TO

collection

This means eating not only highly illegal ingredients, but also cringe-worthy bites such as fried grasshoppers, warm ant larvae, or a raw unhatched chick right from an eggshell. Author Dana Goodyear went into such excruciating detail about these gag-inducing dishes that it got to the point where reading the book was the equivalent of attempting to eat dinner from a TV tray while watching Silence of the Lambs. Several times I had to put it down and run away screaming.

A T

D A L H O U S I E

403.286.5220

Not all of the book made me squeamish, however, as it got very interesting when discussing the lengths that people will go to in the name of getting some rare or verboten foodstuffs. I had no idea that food smuggling was so common, or so risky. Apparently people will pay smugglers (known as “food pirates”) for tidbits such as lion meat, live grubs or poisonous African snakes. Secret mobile underground markets pop up for the sale of unpasteurized milk, which has been illegal in many countries since the late 1800s, because some folks swear by the benefits of raw dairy products and are prepared to risk huge fines and jail time to get their fix. These tales created all the suspense of an espionage novel, even though the “pirates” were motivated by the health benefits of unpasteurized bocconcini. I’m not sure I would risk doing 18 months of hard time in a federal institution for the chance to eat a caprese salad full of deadly microbes. In fact, I’m such a goody two-shoes that I wouldn’t be caught dead with food that could get me indicted, no matter how tasty it was.

S T A T I O N

www.zestkitchenware.com

Local celebrities, live music and amazing hors d’oeuvres from the city’s finest restaurants

Saturday, April 16, 2016 Doors at 6:30pm Willow Park Wines & Spirits 10801 Bonaventure Dr SE

Tickets $100 NEW THIS YEAR! Tickets include ALL hors d’oeuvres and beverage pairings!

Photos by Jeff Yee

Join us for Calgary’s Famous Food Frenzy! 403-294-7402 | ATPlive.com

My strait-laced ways don’t mean that I haven’t been dragged into the illegal food trade. Since I have one toe in the cooking business, I have reluctantly been on the receiving end of smuggled goodies. At least a couple of times a year, one of my chef friends shows up at my door under the cloak of darkness, speaking in whispers, to drop off something he’s obtained in the culinary underworld. Once, after making sure the coast was clear, my pal reached into the front of his trousers and pulled out a baggie of black truffles from Italy that he had snuck through customs in just that manner. Another did the same with raw cows-milk cheese from Normandy. I don’t know how they had the nerve to run the gauntlet, knowing they could be busted at any moment. Just the thought of going through airport security with underwear full of illicit fungus or fromage makes my heart beat like a rabbit’s. Perhaps the most brazen smuggling story I ever heard involved friends who were living as expats in Switzerland. The Swiss are the strictest border protectors in the world, in order to ensure that anything that’s brought into the country is taxed to the max. As a result, food, and especially meat, is astronomically expensive, so much so that my friends plotted to skip into France, buy their Christmas turkey, and sneak the gobbler back into Switzerland to avoid duty. Knowing that they would be searched thoroughly by Swiss customs officers, they couldn’t figure out how to easily hide the turkey. So they borrowed a child’s car seat, dressed the turkey in baby clothes and a bonnet, and went so far as to plug a soother into the bird’s neck. They strapped the turkey in, pulled down the bonnet and hit the border. As expected, the authorities scoured the vehicle, but quietly, so they wouldn’t wake the “baby.” When they were waved through, the smug smugglers laughed the hearty laugh of triumphant food pirates. I frankly don’t know how they kept their cool. I would have snapped under the pressure and confessed: “It’s not a baby – it’s a Butterball!” as I was led away in leg irons. I suppose you shouldn’t smuggle a turkey if you’re a chicken. Allan Shewchuk is a food writer and sought-after Italian food and wine guru. He currently has kitchens in both Calgary and Florence, Italy, but will drink wine pretty much anywhere.

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CITYPALATE.ca MARCH APRIL 2016


Discover more at the Le Creuset Boutique in Chinook Centre or find a retailer at LeCreuset.ca

City Palate March April 2016  

The Flavour of Calgary’s Food Scene - The Travel Issue

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