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city palate T H E


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the travel issue








3 oz THE CHAI COMPANY Organic Authentic Chai Concentrate 4 oz PACIFIC Coconut Milk (or half and half) 4-5 scoops Vanilla Ice Cream




Combine ingredients in blender. Blend until desired consistency. Pour into 16 oz glass, garnish and serve.


Stop by our Co•op Caffe to try this recipe or visit us in the store to pick up premium MONIN syrup flavours and the other GRUPPO IZZO VIVI. A COMPACT POWERHOUSE WITH A HEAVY-DUTY POLISHED STAINLESS STEEL CASE.

high quality beverage ingredients we carry. They’re great in cocktails too!





table of contents



16 n

Finding “Eden” on Lasqueti Island

18 n

Going Deep on Vancouver Island

20 n

Snapshots of Croatia

22 n

A Honeymoon of Lava Tubes and Sea Turtles

A food foraging adventure encourages simplicity, connection and true grit Marti Smith

Look beyond the obvious to find gems in Parksville and Tofino Kate Zimmerman Catherine Van Brunschot Kathy Richardier


5 n word of mouth

Notable culinary happenings around town

7 n eat this

What to eat in March and April Ellen Kelly

8 n drink this

Rosso di Montalcino, the Little Prince of Montalcino Tom Firth

10 n get this

Must Have Kitchen Stuff Karen Anderson

12 n one ingredient

Masala Julie Van Rosendaal

Voglia di girovagare. (VOH-lee-ah dee JEE-roh-vuh-GAR-eh)

Satisfy your ‘wanderlust’ in our shops, where you’ll find pantry staples and exotic delicacies; often in the same aisle.

Travel with your tastebuds.

14 n the sunday project

Pork Pie with Hot Water Crust with Karen Ralph

24 n stockpot

Stirrings around Calgary

24 n city palate culinary crossword

Find out the answers!

28 n 8 quick ways with...

Asparagus Chris Halpin

30 n back burner... shewchuk on simmer

Oh, brother! Or sister? Allan Shewchuk

COVER ARTIST: Pierre-Paul Pariseau is an artist and illustrator working for a wide range of international clients. He exhibits his personal work regularly, internationally. His next group exhibition, “Artbox.Project New-York 1.0,” will take place at the Stricoff Gallery in NYC from March 5 to18, 2018. Pierre-Paul has been, in 2017 and also in 2018, a member of the jury of the “Alberta Magazine Awards” in the illustration category.


Grocery. Bakery. Deli. Café. EDMONTON Little Italy | Southside | West End CALGARY Willow Park MARCH APRIL 2018


city palate

Naturally Clean ...

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Learn the signs of a heart attack

Signs may vary from person to person. They may not always be sudden or severe. Recognize the signs and act right away.

Chest discomfort Pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain, burning or heaviness.

magazine design Carol Slezak, Yellow Brick Studios ( contributing editor Kate Zimmerman contributors Karen Anderson Tom Firth Chris Halpin Ellen Kelly Karen Ralph Kathy Richardier Allan Shewchuk Marti Smith Catherine Van Brunschot Julie Van Rosendaal Kate Zimmerman contributing photographers Karen Anderson Kathy Richardier for advertising enquiries, please contact

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Neck, jaw, shoulder, arms, back.

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Derek Wilkins, Chef The Wednesday Room

Shortness of breath

Joannie Rochette

Olympic medallist, figure skating Light-headedness

Experience the passion of downtown Calgary’s amazing chefs through three and five course fixed price menus. MARCH 2 – 11, 2018 • BIGTASTECALGARY.COM


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City Palate is published 6 times per year: January-February, March-April, May-June, July-August, September-October and November-December by City Palate Publishing Inc., Suite 419, 919 Centre St. NW, Calgary, AB T2E 2P9 Subscriptions are available for $48 per year within Canada and $68 per year outside Canada. Editorial Enquiries: Please email For questions or comments and contest entries, please visit our website

word of mouth


hawksworth young chef scholarship 2018

a great new line

This is the sixth year of the search to find Canada’s future stars of the culinary scene, where aspiring young chefs showcase their cooking skills in front of a panel of the country’s esteemed chefs and critics. The winner takes home a $10,000 grand prize and a stage at one of the top restaurants in the world. The nationwide search begins May 5 in Calgary followed by Vancouver, then moving east and finishing in Toronto on May 26. The final competition is held in October. Deadline for applications is Monday, April 2. Details and applications at

City Palate has fallen in love with a new line of savoury condiments from Provisions Food Company, made in the Niagara region. The Red Onion Jelly is particularly lovely, but any of them will elevate your next cheese and/or charcuterie board. Try the jelly in a threecheese grilled sandwich on sourdough… divine. Look for them at Say Cheese in the Crossroads Market.

a very smart garden Click & Grow’s new Smart Garden 9 lets you grow your own superfoods at home. From Palo Alto, California, Click & Grow has launched this new Smart Garden, an indoor garden that effortlessly grows fresh herbs, salads, flowers, fruits and vegetables with the proprietary technology to grow 30% to 50% faster with 600% more vitamins using 95% less water. You can visit for details and to order.

delicious food from urban grub Take-home vegan soup or elk chili, and much more from Urban Grub, everyday awesome food to take home to help make your life less hectic and your dinners more delicious! Carrot Orange Ginger Soup is one of the faves, and it’s vegan, gluten-free and nut-free, but full of flavour. No preservatives, and they cook and can with their own two hands. Some other vegan offerings are basil tomato, curried lentil and more. And for your meat-lover friends there’s elk chili and Mexican chicken soup and more. All you have to do is take it home and warm it up. AND… Urban Grub also delivers.

a very old port

a good red wine discovery

Attention all you port lovers! Watch for the March release of the limited edition 1968 Taylor Fladgate SHP (Single Harvest Port). What an amazing 50th anniversary gift it would make, but why wait… sip now. Wine Spectator awarded it 98 points!

Our friend Adam Cook, who is owner and chef at Velvet Café in our neighbourhood, put us onto a red wine he said was great and we could get it at Liquor Lane, Liquor Outlet, 3106 - 4th St. NW, also in the neighbourhood. So we did and he was absolutely right about this amazing red wine – La Linda Private Selection, old vines malbec from Argentina’s Bodega Luigi Bosca. You can also find it at a couple of other places, check for locations.

lunch and brunch, yay! Now the delicious fun food offered by Two Penny Chinese is offered at lunch, Monday to Friday, and Dim Sum Brunch on Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Two Penny also serves delicious boozy brunch cocktails, like coffee with aged rum, brown sugar and Chinese 5-spice whipped cream. Sounds good to us! Visit to learn about all the good food that’s now available in the middle of the day, then take yourself to 1213 -1 St. SW and eat lots and very well.

read this OK, here’s a beautiful book that focuses on vegetables, and most of us are interested in vegetables: Six Seasons, A New Way with Vegetables, by Joshua McFadden and Martha Holmberg ($50, hard cover, published in Canada by Thomas Allen & Son). This is for sure one of the most beautiful vegetable cookbooks you’ll ever see, great pictures, delicious recipes, vegetables never had it so good! Rigatoni and Eggplant alla Norma, OMG, how good is this. And Sautéed Corn Four Ways will send all corn lovers ecstatically to heaven. Regan Johnson, who works at The Cookbook Co., loves this book, so that’s a great recommendation. David Tannis Market Cooking, Recipes and Revelations Ingredient by Ingredient is another beautiful book from Canada’s Thomas Allen & Son ($58, hard cover) that’s a true teaching book, organized ingredient by ingredient, with 200 recipes and variations. Beautiful pictures and beautiful food, like Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta, Tomato Chutney, Chard Frittata, French Chicken Tarragon and so much more. Brad Long on Butter (it’s good for you), Book 1 in the “Chefs to Readers” series pulished by The Harvest Commission, printed in Canada by Marquis Book Printing, Inc. ($28, soft cover, Chef Brad Long promotes butter in ways that will amaze you, and none of us is surprised there’s a book on butter and how to make it three different ways, because we all love butter. And really simple but great recipes, like Butter-Seared Boneless Half Chicken, Brown Butter Blondies and Brown Butter Vinaigrette to put on your St. Lawrence Salad, where he says, “You too can shine like a drunk guy lucking out in the kitchen.” MARCH APRIL 2018


eat this

by Ellen Kelly


You know the drill. March 21 is officially the first day of spring, but as usual here on the Canadian prairies, we’re in for another few weeks before things look anything like the typical season. Still, no matter the weather, March and April always speak of renewal and rebirth and our spirits are lifted, thereby. We are out of the woods, turning a corner and into the home stretch… spring, if not fully sprung, is on the way. Even though EGGS are available to us any time of the year, they are especially agreeable in the spring. Eggs effortlessly invoke a sense of new life and fresh beginnings, all the while providing the perfect vehicle for herbs, asparagus, fiddleheads, and many other seasonal ingredients. While there are few things in the kitchen more ubiquitous than an egg, there are also hardly any more versatile. They are delicious, nutritious, always at hand and arrive in their own clever packaging. I recently had the most marvelous savoury egg custard at a winter kaiseki dinner at Sukiyaki House. We can’t compete with Chef Koji – his chawanmushi was baked and served in a hollowed-out yuzu – but here is a simple version that could be the star of a casual brunch as readily as an elegant appetizer. Use 4 small ramekins or heatproof bowls. Have on hand an assortment of tasty garnishes such as peeled cooked shrimp, shredded cooked chicken, thinly sliced green onions or bamboo shoots, blanched julienned snow peas, sautéed shiitake mushrooms… you get the idea. Bring 3 inches of water to a boil in a large shallow pot. Whisk together 2 eggs with 1 c. dashi or chicken broth, and a pinch of salt. Strain the egg mixture through a fine sieve for a really silky texture. Stir in a dash of soy sauce and 1 t. mirin, a kind of Japanese sherry found in any Asian market and many supermarkets. Put 2-3 garnishes in the bottom of the ramekins; a single shrimp, a scattering of scallions and 3-4 slices of shiitake mushroom make a nice start. Pour the egg mixture into the ramekins, filling each 3/4 full. Cover each ramekin tightly with foil and carefully place in the pot of already boiling water. The water should reach about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Reduce the heat and barely simmer, covered for about 10-15 minutes or until the custards appear set, have a slight wobble in the centre and a skewer comes out clean. Remove them from the water, and to serve hot, garnish with a little sprig of parsley. These custards are nice served room temperature, too. Allow them to cool and then refrigerate until needed. Nothing says spring quite like FIDDLEHEADS. They are truly Canadian, foraged wild and in season all too briefly. An earthy blend of asparagus, artichokes and green beans with a bit of pine nuts thrown in (say the consensus), to my mind, their flavour is as unique as they are – the tightly curled first shoots of ostrich fern fronds. It’s true that I find them easy to substitute for asparagus, so any preparation you would make with the one could be used for the other. Think of soups, salads, pastas and vegetable side dishes. With all the interest in fermented foods these days, pickled fiddleheads are a fine way to prolong enjoyment of this unique and delicate spring vegetable, garnishing cheese and charcuterie boards well past the season. Wash and trim about 1 lb. fiddleheads. Bring plenty of water to a boil and salt liberally. Blanch the fiddleheads for 3-4 minutes and plunge into ice water. Drain. Dissolve 1/4 c. kosher salt in 4 c. water. Fill a large wide-mouth glass jar about 3/4 full with the fiddleheads and cover with the brine up to about 1 inch from the top. Weigh down the fiddleheads with a clean rock or a smaller jar that fits into the mouth of the larger jar. The idea is to make sure they are completely submerged in the brine. Put the jar in a cool (under 75°F.), dark – out of direct sunlight – spot for anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks. Ten days is usually about right, but it will depend on your own tastes. If you find a bit of mold on the top of the brine, just skim it off. You want the fiddleheads to be crunchy and tangy, but remember, they’ll continue to ferment once in the fridge, albeit much more slowly. When you’re ready to store them, evenly distribute 3-4 bay leaves, 2 t. cracked peppercorns, 6-8 dried juniper berries, 2 t. yellow mustard seeds, 1 t. dried chile flakes and 1 t. dried thyme and/or rosemary among 3-4 smaller jars. Cover them with the original brine, screw on the lids and store in the fridge.

Illustrations by Eden Thompson

BUY: Check the egg crates, and sometimes even the eggs themselves, for date stamps. The fresher the eggs, the longer you can keep them. TIPS: Store your eggs in the carton they came in and always in the fridge. The cute little customized egg compartments in older refrigerators are not a good idea. Even though eggs have shells, they are still very porous and easily absorb odors from surrounding foods. Also, the door of your fridge is not as cold as the interior; best reserve this space for condiments and wine. DID YOU KNOW? The colour of an eggshell has absolutely nothing to do with taste. The taste, and colour of the yolk, is determined by what the chicken eats.

BUY: Look for tightly curled heads that are not mushy or black. They should be bright green and smell of the woods. TIPS: I generally trim and blanch fiddleheads as soon as I get them home. They’re quite delicate and very perishable. Blanching means I can keep them in the fridge longer (or even freeze) and use them when I like. Always cook fiddleheads; they can cause gastric problems if eaten raw. DID YOU KNOW? Fiddleheads, denoting a shape and not a species, are the tightly curled tips of fern fronds, most notably the ostrich fern. New Brunswick is called “The Fiddlehead Capital of the World,” where they are considered by some an aphrodisiac. Bonus!

Ellen Kelly is a chef and regular contributor to City Palate. MARCH APRIL 2018


drink this

by Tom Firth


Brunello di Montalcino could arguably be the finest expression of sangiovese, Italy’s quintessential grape. The primary red grape, or the backbone, if you will, of Chianti and the blends of Tuscany, sangiovese is most at home in Italy, though the grape is planted in many wine-producing countries around the world, including Australia and even here in Canada.


YOU’RE WELCOME! Stop by the Brewery for a pint and a tour. Located at 310 Old Canmore Rd., Canmore, Alberta. Go online at THEGRIZZLYPAW.COM to book.

But it is in Montalcino, a smallish appellation in the heart of Tuscany, where sangiovese is truly king of the mountain. Of about 24,000 hectares (ha) in the region, only about 15 percent are under vine. That’s roughly equal to the size of the vineyards around Oliver, B.C. A premium region for viticulture as far back as Roman and Etruscan times, sangiovese’s story continues to develop even as the wines continue to improve. As a wine, Brunello di Montalcino only appeared in the 19th century, the brainchild of Clemente Sandi of Biondi. Fast forward to 1980, when it was the first wine to be awarded a DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita), the highest level for wines of place or a designation of origin in Italy. Even today, despite plenty of accolades and acknowledgement of Montalcino’s wine and the quality of its flagship Brunello, it remains a tiny region, producing relatively little wine, much of which gets exported. While quality has always been the driving force for Brunello producers, they face many limitations: only sangiovese grapes are allowed, they’re permitted only a low grape yield of less than 8 tons/ha, and they’ve been forced into an increased reliance on the international market. Brunello has a minimum aging period of two years in barrel before bottling, followed up by four to six months in the bottle; it’s finally released a year later for sale. Enter Rosso di Montalcino, a wine with less stringent aging requirements. It’s available to sell the September following the grape harvest. One could almost call it declassified Brunello di Montalcino (and it bears DOC status), but that would be a disservice. Much like a second label in Bordeaux, or even the table wines of Portugal’s Douro Valley, the second option for where a grape will ultimately be destined, improves the overall quality of the flagship bottle. Batches of wine or grapes that “might not be quite good enough” for top billing might benefit from hitting the market sooner for closer to immediate consumption, while the better batches are reserved for the Brunello. But, let’s not forget that getting wine to market sooner is often better for the wallet of the winery; being financially stable allows the winemakers to focus on their finest. Inverting the quality and quantity pyramid that normally means the top tier wines are harder to get, Brunello di Montalcino accounts for the vast majority of production in Montalcino. In the region, about 2,100 hectares of sangiovese grapes are planted for Brunello, while about 500 hectares are designated for Rosso. Many Brunello producers don’t make Rosso di Montalcino, and to be perfectly frank, most Brunellos are quite reasonably priced for the quality, the aging potential, and the character or complexity of the wine. In short, Rosso di Montalcino can be slightly harder to find, is quite reasonable, if not a heck of a deal for the quality. It also has a decidedly strong ace up its sleeve – it’s ready to drink much sooner than the Brunello, providing a window for newcomers to the style to sample it and decide whether or not to invest in cellaring the same year’s Brunello. Brunello can age for quite a long time, though Rossos can also benefit from some aging. The style and the intent of the producer will probably reward the wine collector who’s willing to hold onto one for up to about 5 years. What about food pairings? Well, Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino both complement Italian-style dishes, for sure. Think tomato-based sauces or baked pasta dishes, hearty Bolognese dishes, beef tenderloins, really good cheeses and the like. In beef-happy Calgary, matching up a fine steak with an Italian red is rarely a bad idea. I must confess that I frequently match the wines of Montalcino with Hawkins Cheezies, which may strike some as sacrilegious, but remember, wine is meant to be enjoyed.


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Real Food Made Easy

Antinori 2014 Pian delle Vigne Rosso di Montalcino, $34 Jewel-bright in the glass, with spice and earth aromas accompanied by a friendly whiff of fresh fruit. Tightly wound with good fruit presence tied nicely with its acids and a long, slightly tannic finish. Drinking great these days, but could be decanted tableside to soften some tannin.

Argiano 2015 Rosso di Montalcino, $28 So wonderfully, beautifully sangiovese with dusty cherry, spice and tar aromas to enjoy at your leisure. Flavours are deep and earthy, definitely “Old-World” with a tartness to the fruit and a turned-earth rustic tone. Like any great wine, it nearly demands to be enjoyed with food.

Castello Romitorio 2014 Rosso di Montalcino, $45 A stunning little number that is so ripe and generous, but also subtle, layered, and spicy from start to finish; I’d almost recommend decanting just to enjoy the aromas more. My glass had a small leak in it, apparently; I kept topping it up without realizing it. Pair with something featuring mushrooms, game meats, or earthy cheese.

Fattoria dei Barbi 2015 Rosso di Montalcino, $31 Subtle and perfumed with raspberry and sour cherry aromas, showing off some of the delicate nature of some sangiovese, this is a treasure from start to finish. Riper fruits on the palate with agreeable (and restrained) tannins, it’s ready to drink right now, but would work as something to have on-hand for a specific dish (like a meaty, many-layered lasagna, chez Firth).

Fossacolle 2014 Rosso di Montalcino, $28 Wonderfully intense with black fruits in abundance, and just a touch of blackberry jelly on the nose. Quite robust on the palate, it’s got plenty of fruit, but in a much more traditional fashion, i.e. it is chockablock with earth and spice, too. Seriously good, I’m getting a hankering for cignale (wild boar)…

Tom Firth is Cowtown Wine, find him at and @cowtownwine MARCH APRIL 2018


get this

by Karen Anderson


iced honey? McKenzie’s Country Farm honey is from Three Hills Alberta. I found their new iced honey at Beeland Market in the Calgary Farmers’ Market. Honey is nature’s miracle food and though hard to improve on, the folks at McKenzie’s start with their Canada No. 1 grade creamy white honey and freeze it in small batches that they then spin to create the silkiest smooth honey ever. Ice honey on toast with tea? It’s a truly Albertan and affordable luxury to savour. McKenzie’s Country Farm Iced Honey, $15/500 g, Beeland Market at the Calgary Farmers’ Market

spilli-chili Beeland honey is from Spillimacheen, B.C. – just south of Golden. They make pure honey products from honeybees that gather nectar from Rocky Mountain wildflowers. They also make value-added products including salsa, barbecue sauce and now this delicious new “Spilli-chili” chili starter. It’s made with fire roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, honey brown lager beer, sunflower oil, vinegar, onions, celery, spices, salt and of course – honey. It’s just the thing to keep on hand for times you need to whip up a meal in a hurry. Add a pound or two of browned ground beef or turkey or keep it vegetarian with diced zucchini and peppers plus some corn niblets. Which ever way you go, add a few cans of black or kidney beans, or both, about 30 minutes before serving. Spice it up as you please. Beeland Spilli-Chili Starter, $12/750 ml, Beeland Market at the Calgary Farmers’ Market

cocoa connoisseurs Since 2012, February in Calgary is all about YYC Hot Chocolate Fest. Last year saw over 100 locations participate with 90 flavours in the running for the title of best hot chocolate. All proceeds go to support Calgary Meals on Wheels (CMOW) and their efforts to deliver nutritious meals directly to the homes of Calgarians in need. Though the festival is just one month, you can volunteer or donate to CMOW anytime and keep on sipping hot chocolate the rest of this winter with this delicious Baru from Belgium. Using only the finest Belgian chocolate, each flavour has its own little surprises. Salty Caramel has crunchy caramel morsels, Fluffy Marshmallow has the puffiest of tiny marshmallows and Peppermint has little chocolate figurines. The Dark Chocolate is 64 percent Cacao. What a great way to keep the spirit of the festival going. Baru Swirly Chocolate Powders, $9.99/250 g, Meez Fast Home Cuisine


Offering a locally inspired menu, featuring items that are meticulously crafted.

get light, give light Alice Min Soo Chun is a professor at Parsons School of Design in NYC. Volunteering during the Haiti earthquakes and doing further research, she learned two billion people in the world are without access to electricity every day of their lives. People living on three dollars a day spend 30 percent of their incomes on kerosene to cook and light their homes only to have two million children die each year from kerosene’s toxic fumes and the fires these dangerous lanterns often cause. The Solar Puff™ is Min Soo Chun’s design solution. Seven years in development, these beautiful origami-inspired solar powered lights provide eight to 12 hours of free light on eight hours of solar charging. They have three settings, fold flat, and are light, waterproof and easily transported. This innovation provides individual infrastructure that is clean and non-toxic. With each sale, a percentage goes to providing the lights to those who need them most. This is truly like holding the power of the sun in your hands and sharing it. Plus, they’ll look great on your dining room table anytime of the year. Solar Puff™ lights, $40 each, Inspirati Fine Linens and Home Essentials

cocktails not to be mocked Slowing down to enjoy a cocktail and be social causes relaxation – with or without the potent effects of alcohol. For many, alcohol is not necessary or desired. Whether you are keeping the power in your business lunch, driving as the designate or just showing some moderation post holidays, these carefully crafted copper pot (zero calorie) non-alcoholic distillations from Seedlip will be an inspiration for savvy sipping. Touted as the world’s first non-alcoholic spirits, creator Ben Bransen says they are, “what to drink when you aren’t drinking.” Garden 108 delivers the essence of fresh peas, hay, spearmint, hops, pressed apples, rosemary, thyme and capillaire syrup (a mix of maidenhair fern, pine and orange blossom). Spicy 94 is a woodsy mix of allspice berries, cardamom, oak and lemon and grapefruit peels. The latter, along with a few dried juniper berries and a splash of fine tonic water is my answer to a gin and tonic. Seedlip’s website has a recipe collection worth toasting. Goodbye sugary mocktails.

2 0 0 8 A i r p o r t R o a d N E , C a l ga r y | w w w.y a k i m a y y c .c o m

Seedlip’s Garden 108 or Spicy 94, $49.95/700 ml, Meta4Foods and Zest Kitchenware

saving the world from lukewarm That’s the tagline for the Bend, Oregon-based company called Hydro Flask. It’s invented the lightest weight temperature maintaining portable hydration flasks in the world and has branched out from water to coffee, beer and food. Now it’s tackling wine. The Hydro Flask Wine Bottle holds a full 750 ml. bottle of wine and keeps reds at room temperature and whites chilled while the pro-grade stainless steel prevents transfer of flavours. Splurge and pair your bottle with these matching wine tumblers. Hydro Flask wine bottle and tumblers, $53.95 and $39.95 respectively, Mountain Equipment Coop.

Karen Anderson is the owner of Alberta Food Tours.

Available at: Amaranth, Blush Lane, Bridgeland Market, Sobeys and Safeway




one ingredient

Your coffee is our business.


Masala is a tough thing to write about if you haven’t grown up with someone cooking it for you, or had the opportunity to submerge yourself in south Asian cuisine, learning the intricacies of a masala as a foundation for everything from curries to tea. Masala isn’t one single ingredient, but a layered combination of ingredients; it refers to a spice mixture and could be a dry spice blend – cumin, coriander, chile powder and turmeric are common – or a moist combination of onions, garlic, ginger and chiles that, together, often with dry spices as well, build the base for a flavourful curry. There might be cardamom pods or mustard seed, warm spices like cinnamon, allspice and clove, amchoor (dried green mango powder) or asafoetida, the dried resin of a rhizome that boosts umami and has a flavour reminiscent of leeks. Most south Asian home cooks have a masala dabba in their kitchen – a round metal container with smaller containers inside holding whole and ground dry spices, like a painter’s palette. 

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by Julie Van Rosendaal

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Chef de Cuisine Tobias Larcher

Masalas are fiercely regional, each spice blend reflective of the terroir, influencing the complex flavours of dishes in each area. I deferred to Alberta Food Tours’ president and Indian cooking expert Karen Anderson, who travels to India often and knows the cuisine well. She has become fluent enough to co-author A Spicy Touch - Family Favourites from Noorbanu Nimji’s Kitchen, the fourth self-published (and best-selling) cookbook of her long-time friend and mentor. “Muslim cooks on Kerala’s Malabar coast use mainly chile powder, turmeric and salt in their cooking,” says Anderson, who recently launched with photographer Pauli-Ann Carriere, to document their extensive culinary road trips through south India over the past few years. “With all the seafood on Kerala’s coast, cooks also add ground coriander because they like its hint of lemon. Pepper is the signature finishing note here because this is where it grows – along with cardamom – in the Cardamom Hills. In neighbouring Tamilnadu, we saw lots of fennel and asafoetida. In the north there’s a lot more cumin. Saffron grows in Kashmir. Turmeric is ubiquitous and pan-Indian. Chiles are tiny and hot in the south. Cinnamon and cloves give warmth to garam masalas.” Fortunately we have access to great ingredients here in Calgary, so you’re well equipped if you want to start your next dinner – or breakfast, or dessert – with a masala.

Noorbanu Nimji’s Garam Masala If you know someone who roasts and grinds their own garam masala, make friends with them. (Or learn to make your own.) Garam masala is a warm spice blend, more cinnamon-heavy than curry powder. This is Noorbanu Nimji’s version, from A Spicy Touch by Nimji and Karen Anderson. “Broken cinnamon sticks will be fine, but it’s usually cassia from Vietnam which is strong like cinnamon hearts and cinnamon buns,” says Anderson. “Sri Lankan cinnamon is just a warm tone and amalgamator in the background. You can use regular cinnamon sticks – your masala won’t be as subtle, but it’ll still be tasty.”


1/2 c. cinnamon sticks 2 T. green cardamom pods 1 T. black peppercorns 1 T. cloves 1 t. grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Place the cinnamon, cardamom, black peppercorns and cloves on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Let them cool to room temperature, then place them in a spice grinder along with the nutmeg and grind to a fine powder. Store in an airtight container in a dark place.

Vij Family’s Chicken Curry

Chai Kanelbullar

This go-to chicken curry comes from the family of Vancouver restaurateur Vikram Vij. Add the spices in the order specified when building your masala base. Adapted from Vij’s Elegant & Inspired Indian Cuisine by Vikram Vij & Meeru Dhalwala.

Kanelbullar are twisted cinnamon buns of Scandinavian descent; they’re most commonly flavoured with cardamom, the key ingredient in Indian chai – a tea made with milk, sugar and cardamom – and in chai-inspired spice blends. Dough:

1/2 c. canola oil

1 c. milk, warmed

2 finely chopped onions

2 t. active dry yeast

1 cinnamon stick

3 – 3-1/2 c. all-purpose flour

3 T. finely chopped garlic

1/3 c. butter, softened

2 T. grated fresh ginger

1/3 c. sugar

2 large chopped tomatoes

1 large egg

2 t. salt

1 t. ground cardamom

1/2 t. ground black pepper

1 t. vanilla

1 T. each, ground cumin, ground coriander and garam masala 1 t. turmeric 1/2 t. cayenne 3 lbs. chicken thighs, bone in 1 c. sour cream 1/2 c. chopped cilantro (including stems)

1/2 t. salt

Bengali Masala-Spiced Granola Calcutta Cricket Club on 17th Avenue has started serving brunch; on the menu, a Bengali masala-spiced granola is heavy on the cinnamon, cardamom and clove.

Set a large, heavy skillet or braising dish over medium-high heat and add the oil; heat for a minute or two before adding the onions and cinnamon stick; sauté for about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, tomatoes, salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, garam masala, turmeric and cayenne. Cook the masala for 5 minutes, or until the oil separates from the masala.

Chef Rene’s Bengali Masala Granola

Remove and discard the chicken skin and add the bone-in thighs to the masala. Stir to coat them well and cook for 10 minutes, until the chicken looks cooked on the outside. Add the sour cream and 1 c. water and stir well. Bring the curry to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the cinnamon stick and cool the curry for at least half an hour.

1/2 c. coconut flakes

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, peel the meat off the bones, discard the bones and stir the chicken back into the curry. Refrigerate or reheat right away, stirring in the cilantro just before serving. Serves 6. 

This granola dish is super versatile – you can eat it alone as a snack, sprinkled on pancakes, or serve it with yogurt and fruit like they do for brunch at Calcutta Cricket Club. 2-1/2 c. rolled oats 3 T. sesame seeds 1/2 c. walnuts 1/2 c. sliced almonds 1/2 c. currants 3 t. ground Bengali garam masala (recipe follows) 1 t. salt 3/4 c. canola oil 3/4 c. maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 275°F. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whip the canola oil and maple syrup until a thick consistency is achieved. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well. Spread the mixture onto a sheet pan and bake for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes so the edges don’t burn. Let cool and serve with fruits and yogurt. Makes about 4 c.

Bengali Garam Masala: Garam masalas vary from region to region in India, and often have a ton of different spices. The classic Bengali version is super simple, with only three main ingredients: cinnamon, cardamom, and clove. Sometimes they add bay leaf as well, but this is the most common. They showcase it at Calcutta Cricket Club in a couple of dishes – the paneer and honey and the roasted carrot and peas. They also use it extensively to finish curries, adding it during the last 5-10 minutes of cooking. 8-10 whole cloves 1-1/2 to 2-inch cinnamon stick 15-20 whole green cardamom pods, cracked

Lightly dry roast whole spices in a pan, being careful not to burn them. Cool and pulse to a fine powder in a spice grinder. Store in a sealed container.

Filling: 1 T. chai spice blend, or 1/2 t. each: cardamom, cinnamon and ginger, and 1/4 t. each: ground cloves, fennel and black pepper

Put the milk into a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast overtop. Let stand for 5 minutes, until it’s foamy. Add 3 c. of the flour along with the butter, sugar, egg, cardamom and vanilla. Stir until the dough comes together, and continue to knead, or mix with the dough hook attachment of your stand mixer, until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding more flour as needed (you’ll likely need 3-1/2 cups). It should be tacky, but not sticky – add more flour if it’s sticking to your hands. It will smooth out and become less tacky as it sits. Shape into a ball and place it back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and let stand in a warm place until the dough has doubled in bulk, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Cut the dough into two pieces and on a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a rectangle that’s about 9x12 inches. In a small bowl, stir together the soft butter, brown sugar and chai spices, and spread half over each piece of rolled-out dough. Fold each piece up into equal thirds, as if you were folding a letter, and roll it again until it’s roughly 8x14 inches.

recipe photos by Julie Van Rosendaal

Cut the dough lengthwise into strips about 1 inch wide. Twist each strip by holding each end and twisting in opposite directions, then holding one end, wrap it around two or three of your fingers (as if you were wrapping up an electrical cord), then tuck the end over, under and through the hole in the middle. (Google for some great video tutorials.) Place each rolled bun on a parchment-lined sheet, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar or sliced almonds, and let them sit while you preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the buns for 15-20 minutes, until golden.  Makes about 1-1/2 dozen kanelbullar.

continued on page 27 MARCH APRIL 2018



the sunday project

with Karen Ralph


On the face of it, a pork pie seems pretty simple and straightforward. Meat contained in pastry, how hard can it be? Having made a few classic pork pies, I can tell you that the beauty is in the simplicity of basic ingredients elevating each other into something entirely new and delicious. The meaty delights contained in glossy, richly glazed pastry should be revisited: it’s easy and satisfying to make, fun to serve, travels well, and is comforting and delicious. What you put in it is up to you, traditionally it is pork, but you can use chicken and I’ve made a delicious vegetarian version using sautéed mushrooms, onions, spinach and peppers – and butter or vegetable shortening instead of lard. Versatile in ingredients and size, the savoury pie is well worth revisiting.

Pork Pie with Hot Water Crust Crust: 1 c. lard, melted 5-1/2 c. all-purpose unbleached flour 2 t. salt 2 t. sugar 2 c. hot water (you might need to add tablespoons until dough is easily pliable) 1 T. heavy cream (to glaze the pie lid before baking)

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There is one word for this dough and that is “indestructible.” Seriously. You cannot overwork it, but you could burn yourself if you aren’t paying attention, so be careful – you’re adding hot water and melted lard to flour and it’s easy to forget and plunge a hand into the dough. Do not do this! Melt the lard, whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl, add the hot water, stir, add the melted lard, mix well and form the dough into a ball, wrap it in cellophane and chill it for at least 40 minutes. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it’s a soft, warm, greasy, pliable lump. Roll it out to the thickness of two stacked toonies, grease a deep springform pan and press the dough into the pan, making sure to smooth out any folds in the dough and leaving about half an inch of overhang or more. Make sure there are no holes in the dough. Chill for about 30 minutes. Keep the trimmings for the pie lid, which will be rolled out just before baking the pie. Filling: Traditionally this is a pork pie. If you want to stay classic, this is it. 6 strips smoked bacon 1 onion, diced 2 seeded long sweet red peppers, diced 1 stalk celery, diced 2 carrots, diced 1/2 lb. pork sausage meat 1-1/2 lbs. of pork (preferably shoulder but not ham), cut into 1-inch cubes 1 t. smoked paprika 1/2 t. ground cloves 2 peeled, sliced persimmons soaked in gin (optional) salt and pepper to taste


Cut bacon into lardons (sticks about the width of two matchsticks) and cook until crisp in a frypan. Remove and set aside. Add the onion, peppers, celery and carrots to the bacon fat and sauté until soft. Add the sausage meat and pork to the frying pan, give a stir, add in spices and cook until fragrant. Spoon about two thirds of the mixture into the chilled pie crust. If you’re using them, drain the persimmons, make one layer and cover them with the remainder of the filling mix. Roll out a thin lid, dampen the edges of the dough and crimp the lid onto the overhang, making sure you’ve got a good seal. You don’t want your pie to leak. Glaze the pie lid with the cream and cut a small vent in the middle. You can continue to glaze the pie during cooking for a beautiful shine. Pre-heat your oven to 375°F and cook the pie for at least 2-1/2 hours. The internal temperature should be at least 175°F and all visible pastry is cooked. Check regularly and if it’s over-browning cover the lid with foil. My oven has a hot side, which requires turning the pie for even cooking and you might have to do the same. When your pie is done, let it cool completely and release the springform. It’s also simple to bake in the evening and, after cooling sufficiently, popping it in the fridge for the next night’s dinner. Trouble Shooting: • I’ve accidentally created a fizzing, crackling flour bomb by pouring hot water into the hot lard. It’s surrounded by flour and a quick stir will solve the problem and your dough will still be fine but it makes a mess. • If you use commercial blocks of lard, cut them in half to make sure there are no air pockets that will throw your measurements off. • If your dough starts to crack when you’re rolling it out, squeeze it into a ball and add water, a tablespoon at a time until it’s the right consistency. Be sure to roll it thinly, this is a hardy dough that will resist efforts to flatten it out. But unless you want your beautiful ingredients encased in a leaden, lardy tomb, it’s worth the effort. • One more thing – persimmons. Husband Ribsy wanted to know what you did with them and wasn’t keen on the idea of them in a pork pie. He was right! They didn’t add anything other then texture which wasn’t great. If dinner is going to be weird there are better ways to make that happen.

1. Hot water dough.

2. Dough after chilling.

3. Dough worked to smoothness.

4. Rolling the crust.

5. Laying dough over springform pan.

6. Dough pressed into springform.

7. Persimmon on top of pork.

8. Pie lid.

9. Pie lid glazed.

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Read more 10. Baked pie.

11. Pork pie is so yummy, let’s have a piece… or two.

The vegetarian version, ready to be topped.

Karen Ralph is a regular City Palate contributor, pie maker and SCOBY farmer. Photos by Karen Ralph.

™The heart and / Icon on its own and the heart and / Icon followed by another icon or words are trademarks of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. MARCH APRIL 2018


Finding “Eden” on Lasqueti Island A FOOD FORAGING ADVENTURE ENCOURAGES SIMPLICITY, CONNECTION AND TRUE GRIT story and photos by Marti Smith

When my husband and I told friends we were travelling with our six-year-old to Lasqueti, a little off-grid island, population 350, 20 km north of Vancouver Island, nobody had heard of it, which is just how many locals like it. Upon our arrival in July, we notice a weather-worn sign hanging like an artifact from a tree at the end of a driveway. Anywhere else, this sign might seem over-promising, but instead it invites us to uncover the real Lasqueti. We discover a forested refuge in the Salish Sea, where an eclectic – and often eccentric – cast of characters are tucked into the trees in hand-built cabins, and wild sheep ramble the mossy hills and meadows. It’s not for everyone. To get around you have to travel by bike or hitchhike. Cell service is spotty, there’s no real grocery store and if you want to eat at a fancy restaurant, you’re out of luck. But, as we find out, there’s plenty of great food sprouting in local gardens and washing up in tidal pools, and if you’re in the right place at the right time, which we often seem to be, someone might even serve you a piece of homemade birthday cake with fresh whipped cream and figs plucked from a nearby tree. Intending to explore for only a few days, we packed food in a cooler accordingly, but we’re quickly bewitched to stay longer. So each morning we set out on a food-finding mission. Our limitations are that we can only go as far to find food as we can travel by bike with our young son. After settling into our Wi-Fi- and electricity-free cabin, surveying the composting toilet, solar shower and the note about boiling water for five minutes, we find ramshackle bikes by the woodpile, and the three of us set out on a pedaling adventure. Hilly gravel roads meander past mysterious forests and views are free of power lines. Our gearless bicycles aren’t much better than the old dilapidated trucks that occasionally roll by, their drivers giving us the two-finger wave. These rides give new meaning to working for your supper. After about 5 km, we come to a worthy road stop, a farm stand with an array of green beans, minitomatoes and red chard. For me, nothing says the world is still good like the unattended vegetable stand, where the honour system is alive and well. At the False Bay cookie shack, my son deposits a few coins in a small locked box with instructions guiding us to leave money in exchange for cookies, in this case, a peanut butter chocolate “Bliss Ball” rolled in sesame seeds. I hope the simplicity and sweetness of the moment will long live inside him, not to mention give him energy for the 5 km ride back to Spring Bay. Have you ever walked into a grocery store and been overwhelmed by such quality abundance that it’s hard to choose an item: bowtie or fusilli, gluten-free or ancient grain? Or which grass-fed sausage is ideal for the night’s meal: blue cheese and fig, or leek and potato? Here on Lasqueti, self-sufficiency inspires our creativity and leads to more encounters with locals than might be typical. We buy cheese and homemade yogurt from a neighbour heading off-island after she drops in for coffee. Through a friend-of-a-friend we buy a warm loaf of bread, which I hold to my breast like it’s a baby. After connecting with the local electrician and his family, we’re invited to pick apples and plums from their orchard and I make pie in a cast-iron pan.

Our neighbour Barb then invites us to a friend’s place, where we learn the generosity of Lasquetians is without end. We bike down a shady laneway to find a house nestled in a garden oasis. Vivian, a cheerful brunette and champion gardener who also makes her own wooden cutting boards, ushers us immediately to her garden and proceeds to happily dig up potatoes, saying, “Dig it up! Take as much as you need!” She hands me a trowel and then liberally loads our arms with yellow beans, beet greens and russet potatoes. As we gather the bounty it feels like one of those resonant Wordsworthian moments where we might hear “the ghostly language of the ancient earth.” After reading about the women pearl divers of Japan who eat various types of seaweed and dive virtually naked throughout the year, until well past their 70th birthdays, I’m determined to harvest and experiment with seaweed beyond the little packaged snacks from the health food store. I brush up on some seaweed identification guides and ride around the bend to Boot Hill beach, along with my family, also known as my seaweed gathering team. We sniff the salt air, gaze at the ocean, and gather bits of sea lettuce and dulse. I feel pretty cool nibbling a bit of sandy seaweed plucked from a rock covered in barnacles. I eat it like chewing tobacco, imagining I’m a Nordic warrior gnawing dulse on my way to battle. “Gross!” my son exclaims when I offer him a sprig. My husband says simply, “No, thanks.” (Miffed by their lack of true grit, but undeterred, I later slip it into soups, and they are none the wiser.) “Don’t you want to be strong like the Vikings and avoid scurvy?” I ask our son. “What’s scurvy, Mom?” But he’s already lost interest and wanders down the beach to search for purple starfish. Back at the cabin, we spread the seaweed on trays, setting them on the back porch to let them dry in the sun and wind. To the satisfying sound of wood being chopped, with father teaching son, I tackle my next culinary prospect: oatmeal dulse croquettes, which end up tasting like divine sea-infused puffs. Through the grapevine we track down a freshly butchered rabbit from a woman who drives around in a truck that runs on home-brewed bio-diesel. My husband rides 5 km to an agreed meeting place, puts the bagged rabbit in his knapsack and pedals another 5 km, arriving home an hour later. I love this idea of creating something from almost nothing: a heel of garlic, a bit of onion, a few fresh carrots, the last teaspoon of smoked salt, along with herbs on hand in the cabin that could be a decade old – bay leaves, dried thyme and marjoram. When we tell Sam we are having rabbit soup, he is immediately outraged: “I’m not eating rabbit!” He yells, his lip quivering, thinking perhaps of Beatrix Potter’s rabbit borough where Mrs. Rabbit hangs her onions by the fire and serves up blackberries and cream. So we pretend it was a joke and call it simply, “Lasqueti chicken.” He thinks it perfectly delicious, like all my chicken soups, and eats two bowls for dinner and one for breakfast. And what better to eat soup with, but hand-carved wooden spoons, like our paleolithic ancestors, an adventure which leads me to one of my most treasured spots on Lasqueti, the spoon carver’s cabin, though that is for another story. So, we leave Lasqueti shedding a few tears as the ferry pulls away, but in better shape than when we arrived. My husband reflects on how he often would ride a 10 km round trip just to plug in his phone at the hotel to find the next day that someone has unplugged it before it was fully charged. Our son learned to wash his own clothes in a pot, the same one in which we’d cooked the rabbit. We share memories of warm bread, the life-extending potential of seaweed, and we’ll always have our wooden spoons. Marti Smith is a freelance writer and folk singer living on Vancouver Island with her family on a houseboat.




Nanobrewer Dave Paul.

Wolf in the Fog's salmon sharing platter.

Seafood Chowder at Bread and Honey.

Look beyond the obvious to find gems in Parksville and Tofino story and photos by Kate Zimmerman

Visitors to Vancouver Island are spoiled for choice. On one compact bit of land, a mere 460 km. long, you’ll find countless vistas to cuddle up to, unpretentious people who boast that they’re “living the dream,” and food to text home about. Two recent visits from the rat race of Vancouver to Parksville, on the peaceful leeward side of the island, and Tofino, on the wild windward side, were the very definition of West Coast getaways. Outdoor and indoor pleasures were integrated: I breathed deeply, slept well, discovered new things. And I dined wonderfully. Parksville is famously busy in the summer, visitors drawn to its sandy beaches, made enormous when the tide recedes. My mini-break there, however, took place this past November. This town of 24,000 may be less crowded then, but it’s still a prime escape. High tide or low, grey skies or sunny, opening the curtains to expose the shoreline view from your room – in my case, a cozy suite at the Beach Club Resort – is an arresting moment. Though Parksville presents a more calming seascape than you’ll get from the rambunctious waters around Tofino, that’s its appeal: the scene before you transforms with every shifting cloud. Other surprises await if you venture into Pacific Prime Restaurant & Lounge, the Beach Club’s dining room. Hotel restaurants are often disappointing, but sous-chef Andrew Janczak made dinner the night I was there; his superb halibut special arrived with a stunning banana compote, an expertly spiced Punjabi sauce, soothing yogurt raita, and saffron rice. Another delightful discovery: sturgeon served roasted, as a hot-smoked cake and as gravlax on the nightly Trio Tasting Plate comes from UVic’s International Centre for Sturgeon Studies. Altogether, Pacific Prime’s award-winning wine list, well-informed sommeliers and attention to detail make this a notable destination.


Otherwise, many of Parksville’s good restaurants seem to be in strip malls. Cheerful, family-friendly, 30-seat Bread and Honey – only open for breakfast and lunch – served me the best seafood chowder I’d ever had. Chef and co-owner Michael Sproul chops the chowder’s vegetables into tiny dice, studs the creamy soup with salmon, scallops and clams, sparks it with thyme, and tops the bowl judiciously with freckles of crisp bacon. This is a kitchen where everything is homemade, right down to the marmalade, pickles, mustard and ketchup. Sproul, who’s blissful about his work-life balance, characterizes Bread and Honey as having a “European feel with a West Coast spin.” That may also be how Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa would describe its Dip and Dine experience. It combines a soak in the mineral pool of the resort’s Grotto with “endless tapas” in the Treetop Tapas & Grill upstairs, consumed while in your robe. “Endless” means 18 courses of bites that aren’t Spanish, strictly speaking, but are small enough that you can actually go 18 rounds undefeated. A kale salad with ancient grains, hemp seeds, cape gooseberries, and candied pecans with nutritional yeast dressing was outstanding, as was the lamb with barley risotto, squash, and sunchokes, but there wasn’t a dud on the roster. Europe, again, rears its lovely head in the origin story of Morningstar Farm and its Little Qualicum Cheeseworks. Owners Clarke and Nancy Gourlay once worked in humanitarian aid, and the family fell in love with alpine-style Swiss cheese while living in Switzerland. When they moved to Vancouver Island, they decided to pursue the art of cheese making and turned an existing dairy farm into a family business. Little Qualicum’s cheeses, called “single origin” because they’re made with milk from Morningstar’s own cows, are now available throughout B.C. Morningstar also allows you to bring your own container and fill it up at Canada’s only milk dispenser. In addition to operating a café and selling its products and Mooberrry fruit wines in the farm store, Morningstar welcomes visitors on self-guided tours.


Do-it-yourselfers are thick on the ground here. Beach Club bartender Dave Paul was a keen home-brewer before deciding to establish his tiny “nano-brewery,” Love Shack Libations. Paul conducts tastings of his startlingly good brews at the cedar log bar he made himself, and now supplies his brews to local restaurants.

“We live in the golden age of adventure,” says Myles Fullmer, a native of Vermilion, AB, who fell in love with caving and moved to Vancouver Island to pursue his obsession. The island is a “caver’s paradise,” with more than 1,000 explored caves from which to choose – more than in the rest of Canada combined.

There’s plenty more to explore in Parksville, but you may also catch yourself on the flip side of the island. Located 2.5 hour (winding) drive away, Tofino’s mystical beaches, bullish waves and locavore eateries have been documented by countless writers. Its convivial Wolf in the Fog restaurant remains a huge draw, with its broken surfboard art, prowling driftwood wolf, gaily mismatched crockery, and Chef Nicholas Nutting’s seasonal menu, which makes the most of the region’s “foraging culture.” If you’re there in the summer, as I was, that same loose feeling characterizes Tofino’s farmers’ market, where you’ll find jellies made from salal and fireweed, and chewy Montreal-style bagels baked by former Food Network TV producer Christine Overvelde. Already famous for several of its hotels, Tofino has an impressively renewed option in Tofino Resort & Marina. Bought and refurbished by former hockey player Willie Mitchell, current hockey player Dan Hamhuis, and a developer, it boasts 60-plus waterside rooms, along with two restaurants overseen by celebrated young chef Paul Moran.

People have been caving there for 100 years, 30 of them under the auspices of Horne Lake Caves, in Qualicum Beach, near Parksville. There are four natural caves in Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park, some allowing self-guided tours and some requiring a guide like the engaging Fullmer. Be as brave as you like in your hardhat and headlamp, rappelling up and down waterfalls and squeezing through crevices, or just clamber over rocks underground, as we did, admiring stalactites, stalagmites and fossils. This is one damn cool adventure. Tofino’s Jeff Chisholm offers adventures of a different sort. As a member of the Tofino Resort and Marina’s Adventure Centre guiding team, Chisholm skippers boat tours through the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve known as Clayoquot Sound. Tours offered by the Adventure Centre include two-hourplus trips in search of whales and other wildlife as well as hot springs tours and guided fishing trips. June and July are the best months for whale spotting, especially of orcas. On a sunny afternoon in August, however, Chisholm managed to show us not only gigantic humpbacks, but avuncular sea lions and sea otters rolling themselves up in kelp. He told us about coastal wolves, pointed out the site of the area’s first European settlement, and shared local Indigenous lore. We didn’t see orcas with Chisholm, but to cap off our visit, B.C. Ferries kindly showed off a breaching pair as we pulled out of Nanaimo harbour en route to the mainland. Tigh-na-Mara Grotto Spa Dip and Dine: Bread and Honey Food Company:

The Resort & Marina’s Hatch Waterfront Pub offers casual dishes with unexpected flair, including an inspired breakfast poutine and a umami-bomb organic cheeseburger lavished with slow-cooked onions, smoked mustard, bacon and tomato jam, on a house-made bun. The resort’s elegant 1909 Kitchen, with its porthole-style windows and wood-and-metal colour scheme, has had great reviews.

Tofino Resort and Marina:

Tofino or Parksville? You don’t have to choose. And they’re just two of the destinations on this remarkable island that’s a hop, skip and a jump away. ✤

Horne Lake Caves:

Love Shack Libations: Little Qualicum Cheeseworks: The Beach Club Resort: Tofino Public Market:

Kate Zimmerman was the guest of the Parksville Tourism Commission and the restaurants and businesses mentioned by name here. They did not see or approve this article.

Wolf in the Fog:


Exceptional taste comes with age. Alberta Prime and aged for at least 28 days, every steak served becomes the perfectly prepared centrepiece of the Hy’s experience.

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Mar/Apr 2017 Jan. 30, 2017




Dubrovnik from Mount Srd.

Peljesac-Salt pans from Napoleon's road.


story and photos by Catherine Van Brunschot

I’m not really sure what brought me here to Croatia. Maybe it was the country’s position at the crossroads of a complicated history, from Greek colony through Roman, Venetian, and Habsburg Empires – and, of course, the Yugoslavian experiment. There were those glossy travel photos, too: sparkling harbours, craggy mountains, and romantic walled cities, scarred but enduring beyond the 1990’s Balkan Conflict, known in Croatian parlance as “the Homeland War.” But it was Croatia’s food culture that definitely sealed the deal, with the promise of uber-fresh seafood, rustic country cuisine, and wine varieties rarely seen or heard-of on our side of the pond. So here I am, road-tripping with my man up and down the 700 km coastline, collecting snapshots of the tasting terroir, whose details I can’t wait to share with the folks back home.




Pelješac-Ston oysters on the half-shell.



Stunning Dubrovnik, with its old city walls jutting into the Adriatic Sea and its evocative Game of Thrones settings, is Croatia’s brightest calling card for good reason. Our early morning walk atop its ramparts brings heartstirring angles across the red-tiled roofs. A gondola ride up Mt. Srd provides even more great photos, plus an opportunity to peruse the passionate exhibition “Dubrovnik During the Homeland War” housed in the Napoleonic fortress.

Just outside Dubrovnik, the Konavle Valley stretches beneath a limestone ridge marking the borders of Montenegro and BosniaHerzegovina. With its grapevines, fruit and olive trees, and the medieval grist-mills that string along the Ljuta River, the valley’s a perfect place for a bucolic cycle, which is what I’m doing today with Epic Croatia’s Tomi Ćorić and five other travellers.

But it’s the evenings, when the cruise ship day-trippers have disappeared and the sinking sun shines rosy on the tiled streets, that the Old Town is most magical, and it’s then that we embark on a Dubrovnik food tour. With owner-guide, Hamo Ovcina, we explore the residential backstreets and find the narrow wall breaches that open onto cliffside buža (literally, hole in the wall) bars. We sample some of the region’s best pošip whites and Dingač reds at Razonoda Wine Bar – and a groaning charcuterie board that includes local pršut (air-dried prosciutto) and famous Pag Island sheep’s cheese. Winding our way past churches, monasteries, and a former palace, we stop for tuna tartare at Konoba Veritas, the bustling sidewalk café of Hamo’s neighbour, and for octopus gnocchi and vongole tagliatelle at delightfully artsy Stara Loza restaurant, helmed by Chef Damir Šarić, one of Dubrovnik’s rising stars. The tour takes a reflective turn as we wander through the lanes favoured by local shoppers, where Hamo’s own personal stories of the 1991 siege of Dubrovnik augment the before and after photos posted on building walls. We close the night at Patisserie Pupica with its signature cakes – the chocolatey ”Black Queen” and the almond-orange “Southern” – and discover that the three-hour tour has morphed happily into five.

We see scars of the Homeland War in a bombed-out farmhouse, but a Franciscan monastery that still tends a 15th-century church has been restored since the conflict, and its 250-year-old maple tree grows on. Sunning out front of many farmhouses are jugs of dark liquid, and I wonder what local ritual this might be. “Rakija,” says Tomi, explaining that most families make their own version of this powerful brandy by fermenting berries or nuts for a biblical-sounding 40 days. A shot of rakija typically welcomes visitors to Croatian homes, a practice I experience first-hand at Kameni Dvori, where sisters-in-law Nike and Katarina Mujo have converted the family farm into an agroturizam, offering accommodation, a cozy field-to-table konoba (tavern), and immersion into local food and culture. Here, next to the wood-burning cooking hearth, we thread pork onto laurel skewers and make bread and semolina soup dumplings under the guidance of Stane, the family matriarch, whose lack of English proves no hindrance to her cheerful chiding of my husband’s chopping efforts. Our work is rewarded by a first course of Konavle charcuterie and cheese, house-made pickles and spreads, including ajvar, an astoundingly delicious purée of eggplants and red peppers. We harvest ingredients from the garden and take another round in the kitchen before tucking into the main feast, where side dishes and wine have materialized next to the fruits of our labour. The conversation turns lively when the sisters and a husband join us for fig cake and Turkish coffee. Sooner than we’d like, our transport driver arrives on the scene, but he simply sits down and joins the party.

Croatian Culinary Connections IN CALGARY DINING: Find hot spirals of burek (stuffed with cheese, spinach, or ground meat), semolina soup-dumplings, or a side of delectable ajvar at Cozy Kitchen in the light-industrial district east of Chinook Mall. Since 2016, Emina Dedić Halilović and her Croatian-Serbian team (she herself is Bosnian-born) have been serving up the dishes common to all three countries to an appreciative crowd of nearby workers as well as expats from across Calgary. You’ll find Emina herself chatting with every guest, proffering samples from a menu that includes sarma (cabbage rolls), ćevapi u lepinji (beef and veal sausage with flatbread), goulash, sandwiches, and spaghetti bolognaise. You’ll want to take something home from the pastry case stocked with housemade čupavci (coconut-and-chocolatedipped cake), baklava, cannoli, and other treats.

Istria-Groznjan village.

Konavle Valley, cooking with Stane at Kameni Dvori.

Konavle Valley, charcuterie platter.

Dubrovnik at night.



High on the dolomite slopes of the Pelješac peninsula, the terrain feels distinctly Mediterranean, with tiny groves of citrus and olives, and drystone walls trailing with poppies. From where we stand, I can see the sea-salt pans and sprawling fortifications of the town of Ston. Both are historically important resources for Dubrovnik, which lies just a 90-minute drive from here.

Two days of driving have brought us to the Istrian peninsula on Croatia’s northwestern tip, a region whose mercurial borders have left a unique cultural legacy and a deep gastronomic tradition. The green hills of the interior produce olive oil, truffles, indigenous malvazija white wines and robust red teran wines, and proliferate with sleepy hilltop villages. At a tiny farmers’ market in Grožnjan, we nibble fritules (sugar-powdered doughnut spheres). At steep Motovun, it’s handrolled fuži pasta with black truffles that perfumes the air and sates our stomachs.

But we’ve opted for foot-power today, hiking along this former Napoleonic road down into the vineyards that are part of this region’s claim to fame. Here grows the plavac mali grape, ancestral cousin to zinfandel. Its propensity for producing big, stunning reds brought the return of famous native son, Mike Grgich, the transplanted winemaker who rocked the world in 1973 when his Napa Valley chardonnay beat out all French wines in blind taste tests in Paris. Grgich’s Grgić Vina winery lies too far along the peninsula for our hike, but the highly reputed Miloš Winery awaits at the bottom of this trail. Ivan Miloš proves an ever-so-genial host among the grapevines and in the tasting room, and his family’s stellar wines steal a big place in my backpack. Then we’re off to the seabeds of Mali Ston, where shellfish have been cultivated since the Roman Empire stalked these straits. Mollusc-farmer Denis Dražeta offers shots of his mulberry rakija before we chow down on the fresh-plucked oysters that are the Pelješac’s other claim to fame. Mussel stew is next, made according to a Dražeta family recipe, served with rustic bread with which we mop the kettle clean. We deem our host’s homemade wine a commendable libation, and a perfect instrument of procrastination for any plans to scale Ston’s five-kilometre great wall.

Back along the coast, a well-preserved Roman amphitheatre is to be discovered in the city of Pula; Byzantine mosaics are the star at the Euphrasian Basilica in Poreč. But, in the end, it’s seaside Rovinj that captures my heart. Crumbling Venetian houses run chock-a-block in the old town, where residents switch mid-sentence between Italian and Croat, and children play soccer in the cobblestone streets. Here, fishing boats bob in the harbour; figs, cherries, and walnuts are piled high in the market; the aroma of warm burek (meat, cheese, or spinach-stuffed phyllo) wafts from the pekaras (bakeries). On a winding descent from Rovinj’s church campanile, we stumble across Tipica Konoba, a tavern with a decidedly plain interior but a promising menu. The utilitarian surroundings warm with the first bites of truffle-flecked cheese drizzled with acacia honey and olive oil, and glow bright with the arrival of sea bass en papillote and tuna medallions with peppercorn cream on polenta. By the time we fall into the night streets after polishing off deconstructed apple pie and cheesecake with honey and walnuts, I am positively rapturous. Harbourside in Tito Square, a troupe of breakdancers has joined forces with a ballad-loving guitarist. Their unorthodox but sweet collaboration draws a small crowd under the moonlit sky, and we join their ranks with murmurs of appreciation and soft applause, grateful for this night, this food, this place. ✤

5708 - 1 St. SE, Calgary. Open Mon-Thurs, 7am-8pm; Fri & Sat, 7am-9pm; Sun, 10am-8pm. Catering available.

At Niko’s Bistro, former Dubrovnikite, Niko Miletic, has focused on the Italian food of his Croatian childhood, with the likes of Calamari All’Inferno (a crowdfavourite), pasta, and plenty of seafood and olive oil. But the kitchen of this Kensington mainstay prepares its crème caramel Dubrovnik-style and will make palačinke (Croatian crepes) to order. Customers in the know can get buzara (shrimp or mussel stew), crni rižot (black risotto), or pašticada (sweet and sour beef) by request. Great Croatian wines are difficult to source in Alberta, but Croatian beer is available from the bar – and you’re apt to find Niko sharing a šljivovica (plum brandy) or pelinkovac (wormwood liqueur) with guests as he makes his way among the tables. 1241 Kensington Rd. NW, Calgary. Open for lunch and dinner, Mon-Fri; Dinner only Sat & Sun.

LIBATIONS: • Metro Liquor store (Skyview Ranch Rd. NE) offers a wide selection of Croatian liqueurs, beer, and some wines. • Sobey’s Liquor (Cranston) carries a bevy of Croatian liqueurs. • Olympia Liquor stores (especially the Evergreen and Westgate locations) sell several Croatian wines and beer. • Look for other retailers of Croatian tipples at Calgary-based food and travel writer, Catherine Van Brunschot, explored the Konavle Valley and the Pelješac peninsula with Epic Croatia ( as part of a week-long tour booked with BikeHike Adventures Canada ( She DID, eventually, tackle that five kilometre wall in Ston and has the photos to prove it. Read more of her work at MARCH APRIL 2018





Lava Tubes and Sea Turtles by Kathy Richardier, photos by Doug Proctor

My friend Doug and I have been together about 13 years, living together about nine and it’s not like we wanted to have children – been dare, done dat. But, he decided he wanted to make us official, so he gave me a necklace with a beautiful raw diamond engagement pendant. He’s a geologist and into rocks. We were married last July. His sons and my daughter were happy and my daughter, Chloé, said we needed a holiday (first in two years), so she “cashed in” Avion points and sent us off to Maui for a honeymoon. Such a good daughter.

Top of Haleakala.

Our idea was to stay here and there, seeing and doing whatever we could find, so I scooped good places for us to stay as we circumnavigated the island. First stop was in Paia, not far from the airport, then further east at Hana, then ending up back west at Kihei.

DAY 1 TO 5: PAIA When we arrived, we picked up our car and headed east to Paia, north shore, and a bit beyond to the Kuau Inn Bed and Breakfast, a charming yellow house at the end of a sugar cane field. Comfortable room, good supplies for breakfast – coffee, tea, juices, cereal, yogurt, bagels, muffins, toast – and nice other people who were staying there. For a couple of days we shared a bathroom upstairs, not a big deal at all. Then, they left and it was all ours until we left a couple days later. Kuau didn’t provide stretches of beach, although Paia did. We found great rocky beaches near us and explored them, finding lots of rocks with faces on them. We almost always see rocks that look like faces. While at the Kuau Inn, we walked to the Kuau store just a bit east of the Inn, a great place to get wine, beer and tasty meals, salads, sandwiches made fresh at the deli, and great bread too. That was what we brought back to the B & B for some of our meals – we didn’t cook, though the others did. We went into Paia, too, and ate at some good places, like Milagros and Café Mambo, on the main street. Good food and fun people. We discovered that what seems to be the most famous and popular restaurant in Maui – Mama’s Fish House – was just a short walk east of the Kuau store. When we first noticed it, we were driving and pulled into the parking lot to see what was up. The dudes who park your car told us that no way we could get in if we didn’t

Rocky beaches of Kuau.

have a reservation, that people reserve months in advance. It was that popular. It looked great, situated on a small beach, and we figured if we walked back we could get in and see what was really up. The evening before we left Kuau, we walked to Mama’s and heard the same “full up, can’t get in” story from the outside people, but we went in anyway and the inside people were more agreeable. We wandered past the first bar in the dining room to a second bar behind the dining room. Very busy indeed, no room at the bar, even. However, we noticed that against the room divider between bar and dining room, there were three tall loungestyle tables for two people, one of which was empty. One of the barkeeps walked by and said it was ours. We ate very well, which might explain Mama’s popularity. Doug had a Pau Hana cocktail made with lime, guava and Bombay Gin and we loved it. We shared a selection of perfectly prepared appetizers – shrimp wonton with macadamia nut dipping sauce, macadamia nut crab cakes, crisp mahimahi rolls and a baby romaine salad with blue cheese, Maui onion ranch dressing and grilled focaccia. So, Mama’s isn’t necessarily out of reach if you haven’t reserved months or years in advance. We were rather pleased with ourselves.

The volcano drink at the Milagros in Paia.

We explored the beaches in Paia, then took the road to the Haleakala volcano’s crater and stopped at a lavender farm on the way – we always stop if something interesting presents itself. You can hike the volcano crater, but we didn’t because it’s very long and we weren’t prepared. If we go back, we for sure will.

DAY 6 AND 7: HANA We bid farewell to the people we were sharing the B& B with and headed to Hana on the Hana Highway. While cruising along we passed a big sign that said Jungle Zipline, so we turned around and went in to investigate and I discovered how breath-taking and fun ziplining is. We did all seven ziplines for about two hours, through and above the jungle, feet hitting the occasional banana in a tree, good guide dudes talking about the jungle flora as we walked from one zipline to the next. An exciting and fun adventure. When I first stepped off the platforms and flung myself into space – woooooooooooosh! – it definitely took my breath away, but it was exciting flying to the next platform.

Mama's Fish House great Pau Hana cocktail.


Mama's Fish House good food. MARCH APRIL 2018

The ziplines vary in length and you can do however many you want. After we finished, we retired to the “bar” for juices and snacks and a yak with the nice guide dudes. Then on to Hana again.

We stayed at the Hana Kai Maui in the harbour area of Hana in a comfortable apartment with kitchenette and two lanais (balconies), one off the bedroom and one off the livingroom area overlooking the ocean. Perfect. We were only there two days, but in our usual fashion we were off on adventures and good dining, packing the two days with lots of activity. The most fun adventure we had was exploring the Hana Lava Tube, deep underground and full of interesting texture – what the lava-ized ceiling and walls look like, part of it like melted chocolate in the chocolate corridor! Really interesting to walk through a lava tube and imagine it full of lava from Haleakala. And part of the story was that a slaughterhouse in the neighbourhood dumped the cattle bones into the tube. Apparently they were cleaned out, but we saw some bones at the entrance.

Entrance to Hana's lava tube.

After this adventure, we decided to visit the Hana Ranch Restaurant just outside the “downtown” because it was up on a hill and was very inviting looking when we got there. More good food and nice people. We sat in the outdoor covered “room” along with lots of other tourist-looking people and listened to the ocean not too far away. We were advised by one of the locals to visit some of the local beaches, specifically Koki Beach Park and Hamoa Beach, which we did by way of having good walks and looking at people. At Koki Beach locals were cooking a very Hawaiianstyle chicken – huli huli chicken – you could buy and eat. Lots of surfers – not very good ones, but fun to watch anyway.

DAY 8: TO KIHEI We bid adieu to the really nice people who ran the Hana Kai Maui and headed off to Kihei looking forward to taking a most scenic route along the ocean then north to an old, closed sugar factory then south again to Kihei. We also learned more about the roads, the unfinished bits, the one-lane treats along the cliffs where everyone, fortunately, drives very slowly and carefully – we made good use of the small pullouts to let other traffic pass. We had a small car, we could easily do that. Lots of big Jeeps on these roads, happy to see small Elantra moving aside.

Ranch Restaurant fish tacos, Hana.

And, how convenient that the road passed Maui Wine where we stopped to have a look around. It’s where the wine is sold, not where the grapes are grown – we passed the vineyards further up the road. As with the Volcano Winery on the big island, volcanic soil grows good grapes. We bought some wine for our Kihei stay, including what turned out to be a most excellent pineapple-based sparkling wine.

DAY 8 TO 10: KIHEI Our place in Kehei, the Waiohuli Beach Hale, was another perfect small apartment in a beautifully landscaped area right on a beautiful stretch of beach. And perfectly walking-close to a grocery store, shopping areas and good restaurants – suited our needs to perfection! We even drove to a restaurant or two, just because we were investigating the whole of Kehei that stretches itself out along many beaches. Kihei's whale and friend.

famous banyan tree lives. Such an interesting tree in the main gathering place, where there are also art shows on weekends, and lots of cool shops and restaurants in the neighbourhood. After I bought a really pretty dress, we headed north toward Kapalua, more narrow ocean-following roads, to a volcanic blowhole, where people were hanging around rather closer than was particularly safe. Turns out, sometimes people die when leaning over the blowhole, then it blows. We watched it blow a lot – wouldn’t want to be hanging over it when it blows, that’s for sure. Headed back to Kihei on the road just past the blowhole that the map says, “narrow road drive at your own risk.” Again! Then headed into Iao Valley State Park just out of Wailuku and discovered that lots of fences kept people from exploring as they used to do, following the lush Iao stream-cut valley to the Iao Needle, a vegetation-covered lava remnant that rises 1,200 ft. from the valley floor. It’s a rainforest and sometimes the stream grew and flooded the valley and people died, so can’t follow the stream anymore. But pretty to hang around above the stream. Stopped into the Beach Bum’s Bar & Grill in Wailuku for a Prime Rib Pupu and Tempura Shrimp. More good food before heading “home” to Kehei. The next day, we decided to hit the beach and water, beautiful stretch of beach and relatively calm waters, very good for a swim. A way down the beach where there was a rocky jetty, Doug noticed what looked like a head popping up. He thought it might be a turtle, so we walked down to check it out. It popped up further out into the water and seemed to disappear. We swam back to where our beach stuff was and stood in the water talking when a turtle head popped up right beside Doug, who didn’t notice it because he was looking at something on the beach. But I saw Mr. Turtle and said “oh, you’ve come to see us now!” Then, back into the water he went and Doug and I carried on talking. A bit later, Mr. Turtle popped up beside me to say hello again – too funny! We loved it, laughed, and talked to him, but shortly he dove under and went somewhere else. One of the funnest parts of the trip, that’s for sure.

DAY LAST We had a flight out of Maui at 10 p.m. and were close to the airport, so we decided to spend the day driving around finding other cool stuff, like to the very south end of the island, much south of Wailea to Kanaloa where a hiking trail starts and where the geologist discovered an interesting area of lava rock called “Dumps” on the map. It’s where lava burbles up through cracks in the earth, rather than pouring through a lava tube. Another interesting stop, heading in the general direction of the airport, but where we had not yet been, was Surfing Goat Dairy and Ocean Vodka. We bypassed the dairy and headed into the vodka distillery, located in fields of sugar cane – what the vodka is made from. Already driving on the Makawao road, we stopped into the Stopwatch Bar & Grill for more good food! Yes, indeed, you can eat your way very happily through Maui, but don’t miss it when Mr. Turtle pops up to say “hello.” ✤

We had a meal at Diamonds Ice Bar & Grill, a sports bar where we were very happy to get tasty wraps, one Mexican club, one shrimp wrap. The next day, across from Diamonds, we wandered into Three’s Bar & Grill where we found some of the most creative food on the island, the three dudes being friends, chefs and surfers and cooking Hawaiian, Southwestern and Pacific Rim food. Just a little beyond Diamonds, we dinnered at the Shearwater Tavern, and not only ate well, but had a great chat with the dude who served us, a local who was in the process of changing his work so we had a good yak about the anxieties of doing such a thing – he and Doug had a lot to share (Calgary oil patch…)! That’s one thing we always do when travelling – yak with the locals.

Lahaina's famous banyan tree.

Sounds like we did nothing but eat while we were in Kehei. We adventured, too, spent a day driving around the westernmost part of the island where Lahaina’s amazing and

Volcanic blowhole. MARCH APRIL 2018


stockpot city palate



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Answers from our crossword published in our Jan/Feb issue.

restaurant ramblings n Teatro turns 25! Teatro is celebrating its 25th anniversary by presenting a 25-course Tasting Menu to seduce your taste buds. Advance tickets available in March. Stay tuned to social media @TeatroRestaurant and @TeatroCalgary for details or inquire at Wow, sounds wonderful – congratulations Teatro, you have fed this city very well and we look forward to more of your great food! n The Teatro Group has launched a new facet to its business – Teatro Group Weddings. If you’re looking for the perfect wedding venue or know someone who is, visit and learn all the great details – inspired, elegant, timeless. Or contact Brittany Rondeau, events manager,, 403-290-1012.

n Chef Jenny at Vero Bistro Moderne invites you to Steak & Frites Wednesday, every Wednesday, to enjoy 28-day aged AAA Alberta New York steak, hand-cut truffle parmesan frites, chimichurri butter, organic green salad and the special dessert of the evening, for a very reasonable $39. Visit for details and reserve at 403-283-8988. n February marked five years since the fun and interesting Yellow Door Bistro opened its namesake yellow door as part of Hotel Arts. Yellow Door has always delighted its guests with its whimsical creative design and creative tasty dishes with modern and seasonal twists. Visit for all the tasty details. Better yet, go eat there, you’ll love it.

n Vin Room West and Vin Room Mission invite you to join them for the Twice as Nice Happy Hour featuring $5 feature tapas, $6 beer pours and $7 sommelier’s wine selection, available 3-6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close daily. Visit for all the tasty details.

THANKS TO EVERYONE FOR DOING OUR CULINARY CROSSWORD! We had a terrific response to our crossword – thank you all for doing it and sending it in. The winner was the first puzzle, correctly completed, sent to us on December 22, 2017 from

Becky Petrakos. Congratulations, Becky, and enjoy your prize, a delicious collection of gift cards from some of our favourite restaurants and merchants. We’re thinking of doing another one in the July August issue, so keep your eyes peeled. Crosswords are fun, thank you for doing ours.


n Selkirk Grille at Heritage Park introduces Friday Night Flights, a new wine-pairing dinner series that started January 26, but also February 23 and March 23, so you can still do it! Each evening a selection of fine wines from different regions is perfectly paired with the Selkirk’s exquisite Canadian cuisine. Enjoy a four-course dinner while learning about new wines. Tickets are $89.95 and must be purchased in advance online at or by calling 403-268-8500. n The Captain’s Boil restaurant, a seafood favourite across Canada, has opened its first location in Calgary at 1324D Centre St. NE, offering a unique experience of classic seafood boil with unique flavourful sauces, guests can choose how to create their very own seafood feast. Don a bib, roll up your sleeves, you won’t find any cutlery on your table at The Captain’s Boil. Time to get a little messy and start cracking. For more tasty details, visit

n SAIT's Highwood Dining Room is taking reservations for the spring semester: bookings available from March 1-April 29, with the gourmet buffet offered March 1, 22 and 29, April 12, 19 and 26. The lunch buffet is in high demand always, but there’s lots of room to accommodate special occasions and group bookings. Visit highwood for more information and to reserve. n Rodney’s Oyster House invites you to join them and Wild Rose Brewery at the second Brewmaster’s Dinner on March 22. Details coming up soon, visit for details and tickets. n Sharon and Eric Day, owners of Calgary’s Urban Grub – we love the name! – say “We cook at Urban Grub exactly how we cook for our family and friends. We also have a fantastic ‘take home & warm up’ menu, no added preservatives/fillers, all made in small batches allowing fresh ingredients to

No Added Hormones • No Antibiotics • Free Range Why not harvest your own protein?

Spring goose season opens March 15th, 2018

shine.” Monday to Wednesday, 6:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Thursday and Friday, 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Orders of $100 and more get free delivery, 403-723-4012. Visit for all the details. n Calgary’s most romantic restaurants – this is fun, Open Table keeps tabs of where people sign up for reservations for Valentine’s Day dining – Calgary ranked this year as one of Canada’s top ten most romantic cities with these restaurants featured on Canada’s Most Romantic Restaurants: The Bavarian Inn (more in Banff than Calgary!), Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant, The Lake House, Q Haute Cuisine, Rouge Restaurant and Villa Firenze. Interesting it is, and we’d have wondered why some other great places didn’t make it. n The Smuggler’s Group restaurants: Smuggler’s Inn great brunch every Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m., and helping with your meal planning with prime rib to go and full- and half-roast meal packages, too. Open Sesame, Meatless Mondays, Enhance your veggie stir fry with a meatless add-on at no extra charge! Tofu for market, mushu wraps, lettuce cups, or naan bread. $7 Martini Mondays, Tuesday is $2-off Markets, $5 glasses of Sangria and $20 jugs, Wednesday is 30% off apps and $5 Tallboys, Thursday 1/2 price bottles and glasses of wine.

Bolero, Sunday Brunch, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., $5 Caesars & Mimosas. Tango Bistro, Monday, Buck a Shuck, $7 glasses of Blanquette and free corkage; Tuesday, Raw bar happy hour and Drinks at happy hour; Wednesday, wine night 1/2 price glasses of wine; Thursday, beer night $5 draft and bottles; Raw bar happy hour and Green hour every day from 4:30-6 p.m. and 9 p.m. until close, Monday through Saturday. n The Carriage House Inn celebrates 50 years. Congratulations, Carriage House! Part of the celebration is going back to 50-year-old prices, like 50¢ coffee Mondays. Also Easter celebrations with a 3-course dinner, choice of salmon, chicken, prime rib or lamb, adults $44, children’s menu available. And Easter Sunday Brunch Buffet, adults $34, children 4-10, $17. Visit for more information. Email or phone 403-253-1101. drinks docket n Willow Park Wines & Spirits invites you to earn your wine & spirit qualification, WSET 2 – Award in Wines & Spirits – at three Sunday classes, March 25, April 8 and 11, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., $799. A beginner to intermediate level qualification exploring wines and spirits for those working in the industry or wine and spirit enthusiasts. Upon completion,

you will receive a WSET certificate and lapel pin, and will be able to use the associated WSET certified logo. Visit for all the details and to buy a ticket. n Bin 905 Tastings: March 1, Pretzels, Sausage & Riesling, oh Yeah! Bin 905 has the finest selection of top riesling producers in Canada, explore the range, $45; March 8, Chips & Sips, potato meets grape, one fried, one fermented, combined, fantastic, the Crunch Time experience, $35; March 15, The Super Premier Crus of Burgundy, an opportunity to have a Grand Cru experience with Premier Cru wines, not to be missed, $50. Visit and click on “events” for details and to book. n Black Hills Estate Winery invites you to purchase tickets soon to its upcoming events that invariably sell out: Winemakers’ Invitational Dinner, June 22, $149; Nota Bene Release Party, June 23, $199; Midsummer Night’s Dream, August 12, $179; Nota Bene 18-Year Vertical, September 29, $199; Fall Harvest Party, September 29, $179. Visit for event details. n PMA Canada offered a collection of top scoring wines to help people gear up for the Olympics in February,

and now that the Olympics have come and gone, just look for these wines because they’re just great to drink. Emiliana Coyam is an organic blend of reds from Chile that’s elegant and complex; Château Timberlay Bordeaux Supérieur from France, with rich flavours that give in to a long, balanced finish; Montecillo Reserva from Spain features spicy notes with hints of vanilla and black fruits and pairs well with grilled red meats and stews; Nugan Estate Alfredo Second Pass Shiraz from Australia is matured in French and American oak for 12 months, resulting in a quality wine with a complex palate of ripened raspberries and blueberries and dark chocolate; Bodega Norton Privada form Argentina is a Bordeaux-style blend with the spicy complex flavours of blackberry and cassis that has received many accolades in the industry. Find these wines throughout the city.

continued on page 26 MARCH APRIL 2018




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general stirrings

cooking classes

n The Calgary Produce Marketing Association announces that the Half Your Plate Chef’s Dinner is back again on March 9, at Winsport featuring a collective of local, internationally renown, talented and creative chefs including Canada’s third-designated Master Chef. This scrumptious five course dinner was SOLD OUT in its inaugural year and features “half your plate” filled with fruits and vegetables, but there are both protein and vegetarian options available. Live entertainment, an interactive reception, guest appearances and chef’s culinary bags for each guest complete the evening. Tickets are $80 and available at

n SAIT’s Downtown Culinary Campus: Caribbean, March 7; East Coast, March 14; Introduction to Cooking, March 17/24; Advanced Cooking, March 26 – April 23; Desserts, April 4; West Coast, April 18; Portuguese, April 25. Main Campus: Sausage Making, March 3; Cake Decorating, March 9 – April 13; Assorted Buns, March 10; Artisan Bread, March 17; Chocolate, March 17; Introduction to Baking, March 17/24; Sushi, April 13; India, April 20; Cooking Boot Camp, May 29 – June 1; Desserts and Confections Boot Camp, May 29 – June 1. The Tastemarket by SAIT: Date Night at The Tastemarket, March 16 or April 20. Visit for details and more courses. n Cuisine et Château hands-on classes: Herbs & Spices, March 1; A Twist on Sushi, March 2; Stocks & Sauces, March 3; Spanish Tapas, March 3, April 4/27; Cheese Making, Level 2, March 4, April 28; Cocina Mexicana, March 8, April 5; Table for Two, March 9, April 6/28; Knife Skills, March 10, April 25; Intro to Bread, March 14; Simply Italian, March 15, April 14; Veggie Power, March 16; Best of Brunch, March 17, April 8; From New Delhi, March 17; Artisan Bread, March 18/25, April 29, May 12; Made in France, March 21, April 19; Around the Mediterranean, March 22, April 11; Easy Thai, March 23, April 20; Cheese Making Level 1, March 24, April 22; Classic French Bistro, March 24, April 13; Moroccan Flair, March 29, April 21; Family Chocolate Class, March 30; A Fish Tale, March 31; A Taste of Spain, April 7; Cooking 101, April 9/16/23/30; A Wok Through Asia, April 12. Kids After School Cooking Program, February 26/March 5/12/19; School’s Out 3-Day Kids Camp, March 26 – 28. Demonstration/Tasting Events: A Taste of Bordeaux, March 10; Wine & Food Series, “Battle of the Andres,” March 11; Champagne, April 8. Details at or call 403-764-2665. n The Cookbook Co. Cooks: Girls’ Night Out: Cocktails & Hors d’Oeuvres, hands-on, March 1; A Night Out: Couples Class, hands-on, March 2; The French Standards: 4 Essential Dishes, hands-on, March 3, morning; Guerilla Tacos: Delicious Wraps, hands-on, March 3, afternoon; A Night Out: Couples Class, hands-on, March 3, evening; Basic Cake Decorating, hands-on, March 4, morning; Sunday Projects: Essentials of Roasting and Baking, hands-on, March 4, afternoon; Confident Cooking I, hands-on, March 7 and 14, evening. Specialty Dinner with Joy Road Catering of Naramata, March 16, 6:30-9 p.m. Visit for all the cooking classes.

n The Calgary Maple Festival celebrates its 16th anniversary at Heritage Park, March 3 and 4. Celebrate French-Canadian, Métis and First Nations traditions, a memorable cultural experience with your family. The event features cultural performances, family games and entertainment, a traditional Sugar Shack Brunch, a Sugar Market and much more! Fun for the whole family! Details at, Facebook or @yycmaplefest. n On March 19, celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in style with Heritage Park and Big Rock Brewery. Shamrocks and Shenanigans is the St. Paddy’s Day event for those looking for something above and beyond green beer and nachos. Mix and mingle at Gasoline Alley Museum while enjoying food that celebrates the best of the Emerald Isle while exploring Big Rock’s finest brews, from craft to classic, and dance the night away to Calgary’s premiere Celtic band, Cabot’s Crossing. Tickets are $64.95, include everything, and are available at, go to the events calendar, March 17, for all the details and ordering tickets. Other activities will include a St. Paddy’s day costume contest, a limerick showdown and all sorts of fun and frivolity! Don’t miss it! n Don’t miss the Calgary Home and Garden Show at the BMO Centre, Stampede Park, March 1 to 4. Make it yours, from paint colour to furniture, landscaping to functionality, your space is all about you. Do the homework to make your home work at the Calgary Home and Garden Show. Find your style with help from Canada’s biggest names in home improvement, along with a line-up of local favourites and more than 650 trusted brands. Buy tickets online courtesy of and save $3 at n Canmore based Bow Valley BBQ has recently won an international competition as World Champions for its Blueberry Merlot Hot Sauce and Sweet Chilli Corn Salsa. They have also won second place for their recently launched Parkway Premium Caesar Works in the Bloody Mary Category. Founded by local entrepreneur Jamie Ayles, Bow

Valley BBQ and Boccalino Fine Foods are produced in Canmore using local ingredients. Jamie has used his experience as Executive Chef at 5 Diamond Lizard Creek Lodge in Fernie, to craft his bold and unique flavours. All three winners can be found in restaurants and retailers across western Canada and will be featured in Sobeys and Safeway stores beginning in the spring. n Nourish Food Marketing (nourish. marketing), one of the only food-only marketing agencies in Canada, specializes in helping clients sell more food. So all of you who make food and/or beverages can increase your sales with the help of Nourish Food Marketing. Its clients include the likes of True North Seafood Company, Loblaws, La Ferme Black River Game Farm, Ontario Honey Creations, Mortimer’s Halal Kitchen, YellowBelly Brewery, Jackson-Triggs Wines, Farm Management Canada, Tandoori Oven, Constellation Brands and Everspring Farms – and more. n The snack food industry grows by leaps and bounds, and Expresco ProSticks brings convenient chicken skewers to 7-Eleven stores across Canada. Portable chicken skewers with dipping sauce redefines convenient protein snacking – a nutritious, satisfying, savoury snack that’s free of preservatives. Street food-inspired skewer flavours and sauce pairings include Mediterranean with sweet teriyaki sauce, Sweet Sriracha with Sriracha sauce and Chipotle with chipotle BBQ sauce. Easy-peasy and tasty, too. Expresco Foods is a Montreal company. n After 17 years of owning and operating some of Calgary's finest independent restaurant's, Alberta and Dwayne Ennest have closed the last of their Cuisine Concepts venues – The White Rose and Coal Shed. Lucky for us they have joined forces with another independent culinary treasure, Bite – Grocer & Eatery in Inglewood, and are collaborating with their hard working management team at taking their delicious offerings to the next level! Look out for Dwayne's authentic touch on the new Spring menu and Alberta's classy influence on libations and service style. Inglewood welcomes Dwayne and Alberta with open arms! n Eleven of Canada’s top chefs competed in a culinary triathlon at the beginning of February to win gold and be The Canadian Culinary Champion for 2018. All the chefs had won their regional Gold Medal Plates competitions, then took off to Kelowna to try to be a top chef! Chef Alex Chen of Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar in Vancouver took the gold with his finale dish Parfait of Wild BC Shellfish, “chowder" northern divine caviar, bulls kelp “brioche" paired with Sea Star 2016 Ortega wine from Pender Island, BC. Representing Calgary was Blake Flann, BLAKE, from Canmore. Like the Gold Medal Plates events, this is a fund raiser for Canadian Olympians.

one ingredient

Tandoori Beef or Lamb


Virtually all meats benefit from some time spent with an intense blend of spices – yogurt makes an ideal carrier, tenderizing the meat while infusing it with flavour.

continued from page 13

1 c. plain full-fat yogurt

Masala Dosa This recipe comes from Sara George, who moved to Canada 50 years ago from Kerala, India. The George family serves their dosas with sambar, a saucy vegetable stew made with lentils, okra, drumstick (a vegetable found in Asian markets), potatoes and green beans. If your batter thickens as it ferments, add a little water to give it the consistency of crepe batter or heavy cream.

1/2 bunch cilantro, including stems 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled 2 T. garam masala 1 T. grated ginger

Dosa batter:

2 green onions

2 c. basmati rice (lower quality is stickier and works best)

juice of a lime (or 2 T.)

1 c. urad dhal or black gram

2 lb. stewing beef or lamb shoulder, cut into cubes

6-7 fenugreek seeds 1/4 c. cooked parboiled rice 1 t. salt butter or ghee, for cooking

In a large bowl, cover the rice, dhal and fenugreek with lukewarm water; set aside for 4-6 hours to soften. Drain and grind the mixture in a blender with a couple tablespoons of fresh water and the cooked rice. The blended mixture should have the consistency of pancake batter. Place in a large pot, cover and put in a warm place, like in your oven with the light on, to ferment for 6-8 hours. (It will expand, so use a large pot.) It is a good idea to place a cookie sheet under the pot in case of drips. In 6-8 hours, mix batter well to get out all the bubbles. Add salt, which will stop the fermentation process. Dosa batter can be used now or refrigerated for up to 3 days.

salt to taste

In a blender or the bowl of a food processor, combine the yogurt, cilantro, garlic, garam masala, ginger, green onions, lime juice and a big pinch of salt. Pulse until well blended. Scrape into a bowl or large plastic freezer bag, add the beef or lamb and toss to coat well. Cover or seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight. When you’re ready to cook, preheat the grill to medium-high and soak a small handful of bamboo skewers. Thread the meat onto the skewers, shaking off any excess marinade. Grill for 3-4 minutes per side, turning often so that they cook evenly. Alternatively, cook them on a parchment-lined baking sheet in the oven at 450°F, turning once or twice for 7-8 minutes or until the meat is cooked through. Serves 4-6.

Homemade Chai

Masala filling:

What’s often referred to as “chai tea” is more accurately described as “masala chai,” chai meaning tea, and masala the combination of spices used to make it.

1 T. oil

1 cinnamon stick, broken

1 t. mustard seeds

4-6 green cardamom pods

2 t. urad dhal 1 t. cumin seed 2 large onions, sliced lengthwise 1 large piece of ginger (about 4-6 inches), grated 2 lbs. peeled potatoes, boiled until tender 3/4 t. turmeric

Set a large skillet or shallow pot over medium-high heat, add the oil and when it’s hot, add the mustard seeds. Once they pop, add the urad dhal and cumin. In 15-20 seconds, when the dhal turns a darker brown and the cumin becomes fragrant, add the onions and ginger. Cook until onions are soft and caramelized, then add the boiled potatoes and mash until chunky, adding the turmeric. Heat a large skillet over high heat, and grease it well with butter or ghee. Working quickly, ladle about 1/2 c. batter onto the pan and smooth out as thin as possible in a circular motion with a large, flat spoon or palette knife. (It will thicken as it cooks.) Cook until dosa is firm, about 4 minutes, then flip and cook 3 minutes on the other side. Flip back over, add filling along the middle and fold over the sides to contain it. Serve warm, with coconut chutney and/or sambar. The number of dosas the recipe will make depends on how big you make them. About 10.

4-6 peppercorns 2-4 cloves 1/4 t. ground ginger 1/4 t. fennel seeds 2 thin slices fresh ginger 1 star anise 1 c. milk 2 teabags or 1 T. loose leaf black tea 2 T. brown sugar

Roughly crush the cinnamon stick, cardamom, peppercorns and cloves with the ginger and fennel in a mortar and pestle. (Alternatively, crush the cardamom pods with the flat side of a knife, and leave the other spices whole.) Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan, add the ginger and star anise, milk and a cup of water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5-10 minutes, then add the teabags and sugar, remove from the heat, cover and let steep for 5 minutes. Remove the teabags, strain into mugs and serve hot. Serves 2.

Julie Van Rosendaal is a cookbook author and blogs at MARCH APRIL 2018


8 quick ways with...

by Chris Halpin


Asparagus is part of the lily family and it has been cultivated for around 5,000 years, not just for culinary purposes, but also for its medicinal properties. Not only is it high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals; it turns out, that it also contains an enzyme that helps to protect the liver from the damaging effects of – alcohol! The French favour hand-snapping each asparagus, to remove the woody part, which does do the trick. However I find this to be quite time consuming. I say, keep them in a bundle and simply cut the bottom third off of the entire bunch. When I blanch asparagus, I place them in a large pot of rapidly boiling water just long enough to have them go from a dull green to a brighter green, about 30 seconds. This indicates that the bitter tannins have been removed and ensure that it is still crisp. Then I drain and cool under cold water, then blot them dry on a tea towel. In the following recipes, I will simply say “trim and blanch” and this is what I am referring to.

Asparagus, Artichoke and Raclette Flatbread


The flavours in this recipe do a most delicious dance between the three main players. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut 4 artichoke hearts, packed in water, into 6 wedges each. Take 1 bunch of asparagus, cut the tips off about 1-inch from the top, then cut the remaining spears quite thinly to about halfway down. Take a sheet of pre-rolled puff pastry and slice it in half on the long side. With a fork, poke it randomly for vent holes. Grind quite a bit of black pepper overtop the pastry, arrange the artichokes and asparagus up the centre, leaving about an inch on either side, on both pieces. Evenly arrange 1/2 c. grated raclette cheese on each and drizzle each with 1/4 c. heavy cream. Turn the long side of the pastry edge over onto itself and with your fingers, press down to crimp the edges. Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the pastry is brown and flaky. As soon as they come out of the oven, sprinkle with salt. Cut into wedges and serve. Makes 24 little wedges.

Asparagus and Leek Potage YOU TURN ON THE S TOV E . When you’re standing in the kitchen, you’re finally able to focus on the smallest details. And the everyday grind, the daily commute, and that big presentation disappear beyond the horizon, while your taste buds venture off on a journey of discovery. The per fect companion? The per fect tool!

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This is a classical soup that is ready in a snap. In a large pot over medium heat, melt 1 T. butter, then add 2 leeks, thinly sliced, 1 t. white pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and sauté until the leeks are wilted, about 2 minutes. Add 4 c. chicken stock and 2 large potatoes peeled and grated, 1/2 t. ground sage, 1 t. ground ginger and salt to taste. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. When the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes, add 1 bunch of asparagus with the tips cut off about 1-inch from the top, and the remainder of the spears sliced thinly crosswise to about halfway down. Simmer for another minute, adjust the salt and serve. Serves 4.

Asparagus and Strawberry Salad This is my all-time favourite spring salad. Trim and blanch 2 bundles of asparagus. Cut them into approximately 1-inch pieces. Add them to a salad bowl, with 30 strawberries that have been trimmed and cut in half. To this add 1/2 c. olive oil, 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar, 1 t. ground coriander, 1 t. black pepper and 1/2 t. salt. Gently mix and serve. Serves 6.


Grilled Asparagus Wrapped in Spicy Pancetta This is a great hors d’oeuvre. Pancetta is to bacon what prosciutto is to ham. It comes as a roll, but is easily pulled into a strip. Preheat your barbecue to medium-high. Trim 12 asparagus spears and evenly coat in 1 T. canola oil. Unravel 12 slices of spicy pancetta and tightly wrap each asparagus. Place these on the top rack of the grill and close the lid for 2 minutes. Open the lid and roll to the side, close the lid and make your favourite cocktail. Open the lid, arrange on a platter and enjoy. Makes 1 dozen.

Pan-Seared Chicken with Asparagus and Grape Tomatoes It’s shocking how fast this “dinner in a pan” comes together. Butterfly 2 chicken breasts, so they are about 1/2-inch thick, salt and pepper to your liking. Place a large skillet over high heat, add 2 T. olive oil and 2 T. butter. When the butter is foamy, add the chicken and sear for 2 minutes on either side. Add 2 c. grape tomatoes, sauté for 2 minutes. Remove the chicken, then add 1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces, 2 garlic cloves, minced, juice of 1 lemon, sauté for about 30 seconds, adjust the salt and serve. Serves 2.

Westphalian Ham and Asparagus Rolls on a Bed of Arugula with Apple Dill Dressing and Capers Westphalian ham can be found at any German deli and some grocery stores. In a bowl put 2 T. grainy mustard and whisk in 1/2 c. olive oil. Whisk in 1 t. minced shallots, 1 T. chopped dill, 2 T. apple juice concentrate and 1/4 c. cider vinegar. Set aside for later. Trim and blanch 2 bundles of asparagus. Take 3 or 4 spears and wrap them into bundles with a slice of the Westphalian ham, make 8 bundles in total. On 4 plates, put a handful of arugula and arrange 2 bundles on top of each, drizzle with dressing and garnish with capers. Serves 4.

Asparagus in Truffle Butter, with Pine Nuts and Chèvre

recipe photos by Chris Halpin

Pasta with Shrimp, Asparagus and Shiitake I am using cavatelli pasta, but feel free to use any pasta you have on hand. In a pan over high heat put 1/4 c. olive oil, 2 T. butter, 1 t. ground fennel and 1/2 t. chile flakes. Once the butter has melted, add 12 large shrimp and 16 small shiitake mushroom caps, halved, 1 red onion thinly sliced and 1 t. salt; sauté until the shrimp have turned pink. Now add 1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces, 1/2 c. white wine and 2 T. chopped fresh tarragon leaves. Continue to sauté until the wine starts to boil. Add 4 c. cooked pasta and heat. Spoon into bowls and garnish with grated parmesan and finely sliced basil. Serves 2 to 4. Chris Halpin has been teaching Calgarians to make fast, fun urban food since 1997 and is the owner of Manna Catering Service.

Located in historic Inglewood 1331 - 9th Ave SE 403.532.8222

This is great as a side or simple starter course. Trim and blanch 2 bundles of asparagus. In a skillet over medium heat, melt 2 T. butter. When it has melted and starts to foam, add the asparagus and 1/2 c. pine nuts, use tongs to roll and evenly coat. Sauté for only about a minute, remove from heat, add 1/2 t. truffle oil, a sprinkle of salt and roll to evenly coat. Divide the asparagus onto 4 plates, crumble chèvre over top of each, and spoon the pines nuts over. Serves 4. MARCH APRIL 2018


back burner


136 2nd Street SW

Warm Hospitality, Brazilian Style

Allan Shewchuk


Every day of 2018, I am happily moving farther away from what Queen Elizabeth would have called an annus horribilus, or, to nonLatin speakers, a “horrible year.” Horrible because last year was one of never-ending funerals where I actually wore out the pants to my black suit from sliding in and out of pews at prayer services. You know it’s bad when the funeral director greets you at the guest register like you are a regular at a restaurant – “Ah, Mr. Shewchuk! Your usual seat? Right this way...” So I’m happy that 2017 is now squarely in my rear-view mirror. I’m even happier to report that this year the theme has shifted from grief to joy because of the sudden proliferation of what may be the best thing in life: babies! I don’t know how all these babies happened (actually, scientists do know now what causes them, but I’m not about to be a spoiler here), but this fresh calendar has ushered in the year of the newborn. Everyone around me is announcing that they’re expecting or are in pre-natal classes or are busy cutting umbilical cords. I am ecstatic – I don’t think there’s anything better than a freshly minted little human being. I love everything about babies – I love to rock them, smooch their soft little heads, and, especially, have them fall asleep in my arms. Heck, I’ve even enjoyed changing diapers, if only so I can have the opportunity 20 years later to play the “Hey! I changed your diaper!” card when confronted with bad attitude by some millennial. That tends to shut them up real quick. Unfortunately, as with all good things, there is a down side, even to birthing babies. Included with the anxiety over due dates and the tears of joy, there are a lot of expenses for new parents, from bottles to cribs to car seats. But I’ve recently also learned about a new and big expenditure that is now de rigueur, which has left me gobsmacked: the “Gender Reveal” party. To the uninitiated, Gender Reveals involve a gathering organized by the expectant parents, where, at the big moment of the event, the gender of their “bun in the oven” is disclosed with great fanfare to the guests with all the melodrama of a reality television show. One reason I am taken aback by these parties is the lengths people are going to in order to make the announcement, which clearly have been dreamed up by some evil organization for the sake of milking couples out of their cash. It’s not enough to just open an envelope and shout out the winning gender like you’re at an awards show. The art of the Gender Reveal is in the elaborate food that’s part of ending the suspense.

Not your typical Brazilian Steakhouse! Churrascaria & Restaurante

#EATATMINAS 136 2nd Street SW


This can involve designer cupcakes that everyone bites into at the same time to reveal either pink or blue icing inside. Or the use of a carnival candy floss machine that produces either pink or blue fluff at the ultimate moment. Another approach is for each parent to have a waffle cone of either pink or blue ice cream, and for one of them to lick the cone representing the gender of the baby while the other parent (presumably) drops theirs, followed by specially prepared ice cream for all (and a messy hardwood floor). Over the top Gender Reveals involve the mother undergoing non-invasive gender testing, such as a blood sample, which is not disclosed to the parents-to-be but sent directly to the Gender Reveal party caterer. A cake is secretly filled with appropriately coloured icing. At the reveal, the parents find out the gender along with the guests by cutting said cake, which may say, “She or He? Cut me and see!” I heard of one reveal where the cake arrived in the shape of a giant duck that read “Waddle it be?” To which I would have added “And just shoot me!” Another reason I was taken aback to learn about these public reveals is that it strikes me that some moments in life, like learning your baby’s gender, should be private and not shared like a Facebook post. I mean, what’s next? A “Home Pregnancy Test Reveal” where, if the testing stick changes colour, the icing is blue? Or will guests eventually be invited for cupcakes in the honeymoon suite on the wedding night to actually witness the start of the whole baby process? Oops. Sorry – I said I wouldn’t be a spoiler. My bad. Allan Shewchuk is a lawyer, 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.

Local. Unique. Convenient. FASHIO N


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ee f f o s C y ¢ a 0 5 ond M MARCH APRIL 2018


City Palate March April 2018  
City Palate March April 2018  

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