ALBERTA / FOOD & DRINK / RECIPES :: VOLUME 6 NO.10 :: APRIL 2018
h c n e r F e in e ! v o l e W Cuis RECIPES TO MAKE AT HOME
MEXICO’S CULINARY RESURGENCE TACOS : TEQUILA
Bars & Brewer Collaborations | Soufflé Magic | French Wine
28 VOLUME 6 / ISSUE #10 APRIL 2018
Features 15 Mexico’s Culinary Resurgence Is there more to Mexican food than tacos? It’s time to discover real Mexican cuisine by Linda Garson
22 Cocktails Français: The art of the aperitif by Linda Garson
36 Spirits of France Introducing new to Alberta French whiskies and Calvados by Linda Garson
24 Cócteles Mexicanos: Fresh flavours for Spring by Linda Garson
28 Taking Craft Beer To New Heights Bars are making their own by Kirk Bodnar
34 Tequila: The magical drink of Mexico by David Nuttall
The Many Faces of French Restaurants With so many different interpretations of modern French cuisine, we’re stepping back to look at the roots and evolution by Diana Ng
38 Please... Let It Be Spring Spirits for April showers or April snowfalls by Tom Firth
40 Making the Case: For French wine by Tom Firth
42 Open That Bottle Roy Klassen, Honorary Consul of France by Linda Garson
Taco Treatment Up your street food cred and take your taco game to the next level with tips from Alberta’s taco masters by Phil Wilson
Salutes and Shout Outs
Off The Menu – Bridgette Bar’s Chickpea Panisse
Book Review – Canmore Uncorked Food & Drink Festival: The Cookbook
Chefs’ Tips and Tricks!
26 Step By Step: Souffles
On the Cover: Many thanks to Ingrid Kuenzel for her French breakfast photograph on our front cover this month. It's making us all want to eat croissant!
Letter From The Editor When I’ve not been eating and drinking in new restaurants to report back to you (and there have been a lot of openings recently!) I’ve been at my desk, writing, editing, and poring through photographs of food and drinks, as well as a quick trip to Sardinia, to eat and drink there for three days. A change is certainly as good as a rest!
What’s happened since we spoke last? Spring has sprung, although sometimes it’s hard to tell; you may have drunk green beer to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day; you probably put your clocks forward (or not, the clock in my spare bedroom is right for 6 months of the year); and you may still be finishing the last remnants of your Easter eggs.
Thanks to everyone who commented on our all-Italian issue last month. I’m delighted that it was so well received. We’ve never focused just on one region or country before, but it seems to have been very much enjoyed. When you put your all into something, you should only know how wonderful it feels to receive this email: “Hi Linda, Every time I think you have produced your best issue you come up with a better one. Congratulations!” This month, our focus is split over two countries: France, the mother of western
cuisine; and in advance of Cinco de Mayo, Mexican cuisine – or what we think is Mexican cuisine. I hope you enjoy them both as much. Thanks to all who have already registered for our 4th Annual Calgary Treasure hunt. Places are going fast and we’re sure to sell out again as we have done for the last three Calgary hunts, so don’t delay in reserving your spots at culinairemagazine.ca/culinairetreasure-hunt. And thanks to all who signed up for our first ever newsletter, you’ll have received updates and news of 19 happenings around the province, as well as seasonal suggestions. If you’d like to be in the know, sign up at culinairemagazine.ca/contact-us to receive April’s hot news. Cheers, Linda Garson, Editor-in-Chief
Esplorare insieme. (ess-plor-AR-eh een-see-EM-eh) ‘Explore together’, both at our shop and in your kitchen, where you may accidentally invent the next great taste sensation.
Did you know coffee was discovered by goats? Grocery. Bakery. Deli. Café.
EDMONTON Little Italy | Southside | West End
CALGARY Willow Park
ALBERTA / FOOD & DRINK / RECIPES Editor-in-Chief/Publisher: Linda Garson firstname.lastname@example.org Sales Director: John Tatton 403-616-5231 email@example.com Edmonton Sales: Kristen Boyko 780-782-4280 firstname.lastname@example.org Calgary Sales: Gillian Roberts 403-990-1512 email@example.com Multimedia Editor: Eva Colmenero firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Contributors < Kirk Bodnar
Kirk Bodnar’s interest in beer would likely be described as a passion by some, and perhaps an obsession by others. The love of great beer has led Kirk to become a Certified CICERONE®, BJCP beer judge, beer consultant, avid home brewer, and founding partner with Bragg Creek Brewing Company. Most importantly, he is the father to two future beer geeks (hopefully). Follow him on Twitter @beersnsuch..
Contributing Drinks Editor: Tom Firth email@example.com Contributing Photographer: Ingrid Kuenzel Design: Emily Vance Contributors: Kirk Bodnar Anna Brooks Dong Kim Renee Kohlman Diana Ng David Nuttall Phil Wlison
To read about our talented team of contributors, please visit us online at culinairemagazine.ca.
< Diana Ng
Diana is a co-founder of EatNorth.com, freelance food writer and digital media nerd who is always looking for the best foods in Calgary and all of Canada. She’s written for FoodNetwork.ca and CanadianLiving.com, and Fodor’s travel guide, among other websites and publications. You’ll never find reduced-fat foods in her cabinets or fridge. Follow @FoodSalon and @EatNorthCa on Twitter.
< Phil Wilson
Contact us at: Culinaire Magazine #1203, 804 -3rd Avenue SW Calgary, AB T2P 0G9 403-870-9802 firstname.lastname@example.org www.facebook.com/CulinaireMagazine Twitter: @culinairemag Instagram: @culinairemag For subscriptions, competitions and to read Culinaire online: culinairemagazine.ca
A food writer with a passion for local food, Phil spends his days testing out new recipes, enjoying expertly made drinks and sharing food with friends. He calls Edmonton home, where he lives with his wife, Robyn, and cats Baxter and Charlie. Phil’s blog, Baconhound.com, covers Edmonton’s food scene, highlighting the best it has to offer through his Food Odyssey series. Follow him @baconhound and @realbaconhound.
Salutes... Congratulations to family-owned food business, Great West Italian Importers, on their 60th anniversary on April 1st! Founded by Alberto and Christina Iamartino in 1958, we know the two divisions as The Italian Store (the retail end), and Scarpone’s Quality Italian
Foods, who import products from all over the world, and as you’ve seen in supermarkets across the country, have their own brand too. Today the companies are still owned and operated by Iamartino’s daughters and their families. What a great success story!
As we’re talking tacos this month, watch out for YYC Taco Fiesta, a week-long festival celebrating everyone’s favourite hand-held food. Supporting two charities, The Calgary Homeless Foundation and Kids Up Front, YYC Taco Fiesta runs April 27 – May 6. yyctacofiesta.ca
Shout Outs... Chef Michael Noble has launched his third culinary venture in Calgary, Noble Fare – Catering & Events. Offering customizable menus for any size of event, from corporate celebrations and Stampede events to weddings and cocktail parties, Noble Fare is providing both drop-off and full-service catering options. And with all the food and beverages prepared in the kitchens of The Nash and NOtaBLE, we’re sure Chef Noble will score his hat-trick!
restaurant in Calgary? True! And instead of breaking a plate, make a $15 donation, and they’ll match it and send it to the Women’s Shelter!
locations across Canada in the next 18 months. Existing locations are being transformed with modern design elements, a refreshed logo, store design, and updated menu options, as well as introducing grab and go market walls with imported Japanese snacks like Pocky sticks, Sriracha Peas, and Hichews. Scarpetta
After 15 successful years in Calgary’s Willow Park Village, the Alefantis and Bushi families have unveiled the newly renovated Broken Plate, revealing a fresh and clean look in cool blue and white like the Greek flag. Yaya’s recipes have evolved, and they’re challenging the perception of Greek cuisine. Chef Ervin Bushi’s refreshed menu includes creative takes on traditional Greek dishes, such as the totally moreish Red Beet Hummus, and Lamb Baklava – slow-cooked lamb in crispy phyllo pastry. Did you know Broken Plate serve more lamb than any other 6
Splash Poke, Edmonton’s first Hawaiian Poke Restaurant, have opened their second location on Calgary Trail NW, after just 10 months in business. Last May, Edmontonians braved the cold in a 3-hour line up down Jasper Avenue, to try Edmonton’s first Hawaiian Poke restaurant, and the community has embraced Splash Poke as a healthy alternative to quick service food. Some regulars stop in for a Splash bowl every day, and order delivery when they can’t make it into the store! Calgary-based Edo Japan has introduced a new concept, Fresh Take, at Edo’s newly renovated Shawnessy location. With over 120 locations in Western Canada, Edo is a local success story, and has plans for over 20 new
Inglewood’s 500 Cucina has a new name – Scarpetta (when you wipe your bread around your plate to mop up the last drops of that delicious sauce – that’s scarpetta!). Chef/owner Rocco Bartolotti has embarked on a refresh after 5½ years, installing roof insulation to deaden the sound, a new bar area with beers on tap and wine by the glass, new light fittings and banquette seating, and a fireplace on the patio. He’s also gone back to his roots, offering Italian street food, like charcuterie in a cone, to eat in or take out. He’s still handmaking pastas and his award-winning pizzas, with local musicians playing live on Saturdays.
The only restaurant in Alberta to have Kobe beef brought directly from Japan, OMO is now open on Macleod Trail in Calgary. Winnie Sit ran A Touch of Szechuan followed by Home Food Inn, and has come out of retirement to work with son Eric in this brand new 160-seat teppanyaki restaurant. Special backlit teppanyaki tables have been airlifted in, so you can watch Head Chef Tetsu Tsuboi juggling knives and making the famous flaming volcano onion while your food is cooked in front of you. And the tables have built-in exhausts so you won’t leave smelling like a grill! OMOtenashi is hospitality, OMOshiroi means entertaining, and OMOide is memorable – yep, that’s OMO!
Espresso Cafe was 2 years in the making, and is now open in Kensington. Using organic produce from farmers’ markets, and 100% organic, fair-trade coffee and teas, Chef Tajdeen Ali (ex-Lina’s Market) serves up healthy breakfasts and light meals all day, and there’s a French bakery with baguettes, croissant, and pastries, to eat in or take home. There’s a vegan menu too, and kids under 6 eat free if parents order a meal. Look for the beautiful handcrafted wallpaper, the spiral Swarovski chandelier over the grand piano, and look up as you enter for the Party All Night chandelier, of mimosa, martini and wine glasses! There’s live music at weekends – and discounted pricing for our local heroes: Calgary police, on-duty paramedics, and fire fighters! Visual artist, Jonara Oliveira, has created a modern urban/music scene mural around the huge stage at the new Junction, on Calgary’s 8 Avenue SW. Junction is not only an events centre for live bands, flamenco, and burlesque,
but a restaurant too with Chef Siva Ramamoorthy, of Banff Springs, Belgo, and Chefs Café, in the kitchen MondayFriday. Weekends are for private events.
And Calgary has a brand new French crêperie on 17 Avenue SW – Breizh Bistrot (Breizh means Brittany in Breton, the region’s local language). While visiting family, Stephane Le Berre fell in love with the city, and brought over Gilles, a chef who ran his own crêperie in France for 25 years. Now these two passionate men are working together, making us traditional sweet crepes and savoury galettes, 7 days a week.
Off The Menu by LINDA GARSON photography by INGRID KUENZEL
After our recent YYC Taste + Tour, some of the lucky participants were able to relax and enjoy an excellent wine pairing dinner at Bridgette Bar. The main course was one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes of lamb with chickpea panisse. These chickpea fritters were crispy on the outside yet fluffy inside, and everyone wanted to know how to make them! Thanks so much to Executive Chef JP Pedhirney for sharing the recipe.
Bridgette Bar’s Chickpea Panisse Makes 13 pieces
225 g chickpea flour 2 cups (500 mL) reduced chicken stock 2 cups (500 mL) water ½ tsp chopped garlic 1 Tbs (15 mL) good olive oil 1 tsp salt
1. Purée all the ingredients in a
Vitamix or blender until smooth.
2. Add the puréed liquid into a
medium saucepot over medium high heat. Whisk continuously until the mixture is very thick.
3. Pour onto a baking tray lined with parchment, and spread evenly. Add
a second piece of parchment over the top, then a second baking tray.
4. Press down on the top with
something heavy and leave to set in the refrigerator, overnight if possible.
5. Once chilled and completely set, slice into pieces 2.5 x 7 cms.
6. Lightly fry in vegetable oil in a
nonstick frying pan on medium high heat, until browned on all sides.
7. Place on a plate lined with paper
towel to absorb excess oil, season with salt and serve. If there’s a dish in a local restaurant that you’d love to make, let us know at culinairemagazine.ca/contact-us, and we’ll do our very best to track it down for you!
April 1, 1958. The beginning of our family legacy. We are so proud to announce our 60th anniversary all which took place in this wonderful city of Calgary. Thank you to every person who has walked through our doors to inspire us, encourage us, and support us through our journey. Without you this would not be possible.
The Scarponeâ€™s Family
60 years 1958-2018
5140 Skyline Way NE | Calgary Tel (403) 275-3300 | Fax (403) 275-0536
WWW.ITALIANSTORE.CA Monday - Saturday, 9am to 5pm
by TOM FIRTH
Canmore Uncorked Food & Drink Festival: The Cookbook
showcase local flavours and recall happy memories of mountain visits.
Edited by Andrew Nickerson, Julia Freedman, and Jen Groundwater $38 at Canmoreuncorked.com, and various Canmore vendors
Somewhat unusual, but well-suited to the theme of the cookbook, are the inclusion of mixed drinks and cocktails from the Canmore Tea Company (Silk Road), the Yama Ramen Bar (Sake Sunrise), and Canmore’s local craft distilleries, Raw Spirits (Grapefruit Gimlet) and Wild Life Distillery (Cool as a Cuke Cocktail).
There’s no doubt that Canmore’s culinary scene has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years, making drive-thru by the highway even less appealing. As the old saw in Calgary goes, “come to Calgary, we’ll go to the mountains”, there are more things to do in the mountains than ever before – and a good meal and post-excursion brew or cocktail are a part of the experience. This cookbook is well sorted into Light Bites, Casual Comforts, Perfect Pork and Poultry, Mighty Meats, Decadent Desserts, and Luscious Libations, and manages to balance a good range of dishes from both well-known and slightly off the beaten path establishments.
Many of the recipes are popular dishes from Canmore restaurants’ menus, and the techniques and ingredients are well within the realm of the home cook. Whether Grizzly Paw’s Beer and Cheese Chowder, Spring Creek Cellars Mushroom Risotto, or Sage Bistro’s Maple Syrup Crème Brûlée, recipes
This is the sort of book that I’ll be glad to reference, or reach for between seasons waiting for either snow to fall or snow to melt. Perhaps most surprising was the number of dishes that called out to me “you should make this – and soon”. And I’d be very happy to showcase recipes from it for our of town guests wanting to experience Canadian mountain cuisine. The 2018 Canmore Uncorked Festival takes place May 3-12.
: : Our 4th Annual Culin a ire Ca lg a ry Tre a s u re Hu n t : : is Sat u rd ay, May 12th Everyone has gone home a winner at our first three Culinaire Treasure Hunts; they’ve been so popular that the spots have all sold out each year, so this year we’ve planned new and exciting destinations to discover, and new treats to enjoy!
And there are fabulous prizes for the people who visit the most locations, wear the best costumes, have the funniest team names, tweet the funniest photos… and lots lots more!
Places are filling up, so register today to be one of the lucky people to take part in our fourth culinary adventure!
It’s another very fun and rewarding day, so if you haven’t already registered, grab a partner and sign up as a team of two, or sign up solo.
Trivia questions about participating restaurants, markets and stores reveal the answers for where to dash off to receive your treat, get your passport stamped, and maybe come away with a little culinary gift too!
Visit culinairemagazine.ca/culinaire-treasure-hunt to register, follow us on Twitter @culinairemag for the latest details, and like us on Facebook to keep up with the news and for more information!
:: It’ s g o in g to b e another day to remember! :: 10
Wild Mushroom Fricassee Salad
Fine Food, French Cooking by ANNA BROOKS photography by INGRID KUENZEL and DONG KIM
A sip of bright Beaujolais, the irresistible aroma of mirepoix bubbling in butter, the delicate crack of your spoon breaking a burnt sugar brulée crust… the French have a knack for making us fall in love with food.
French cuisine is often treated like an elixir, mysterious and complex, and impossible to replicate without years of scrupulous training. But home cooks fear not! This month we spoke with four local Alberta chefs who let us in on some secrets behind the fine food of the French. Dominique Moussu, managing partner and executive chef of Suzette Bistro in Calgary, hails from the Brittany region of northwest France. Incidentally, Brittany is probably one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and it’s no surprise the food from there is pretty good too. “The food at Suzette is a tradition, not a concept,” Moussu says. “We do
Chef Dominique Moussu
food that is really Brittany. Savoury galettes with cheese, egg, mushroom and spinach, crêpe bretonne, and a lot of seafood. For me, moules a la crème is to die for.” While Moussu’s carefully crafted techniques, honed over years at culinary school in France, may be difficult to 11
And if you’re asking yourself, “Is that too much butter?” the answer is no. You could probably add a little more.
“The first thing I would say is, don’t overthink things. It can’t be perfect all the time,” Cruz says. “A lot of times it’s just trial and error, and if you’re cooking at home, nobody is going to judge you on whether you’ve made something really authentic. All that matters is that it tastes good.”
“We put butter on everything,” he says with a laugh. “Butter is very important in Brittany!”
Speaking of tasting good, try Cruz’s recipe for moules marinières, aka sailor-style mussels!
replicate, he says there is one trick that will immediately elevate whatever French dish you’re trying to cook: add butter.
Try making Moussu’s favourite spring dish to cook at home, creamy egg and mushroom salad!
Wild Mushroom Fricassee Salad Serves 2
20 g butter 40 g black trompette (trumpet) mushrooms 40 g chanterelle mushroom 40 g morel mushrooms To taste salt and white pepper 8 tsp (40 mL) heavy cream 60 g frisee 60 g mixed green leaves 4 tsp garlic dressing 1 Tbs red onion, sliced 6 cherry tomatoes, sliced 2 poached eggs Few sprigs parsley
1. Brown butter in a pan. Add
mushrooms and stir. Cook until they reach a nice golden colour. Season with salt and white pepper.
Chef Bryan Cruz
The most devoted of chefs may argue that classic French recipes should never be tampered with, but others — like chef de cuisine Bryan Cruz at The Marc in Edmonton — encourages adding a bit of flair to French food.
115 g butter 2 shallots, chopped 2 cups (480 mL) white wine 2.25 kg PEI mussels, cleaned and debearded Salt and pepper to taste 1 Tbs chopped parsley
“The style of cuisine at The Marc is traditional with a modern touch to it,” he explains. “Chefs are trying to modernize what a bistro is in Paris, and I want to bring 1. In a large pot on medium-high that kind of philosophy to the restaurant.” heat, melt half the butter. Add shallots and cook until soft. Osso buco, beef bourguignon, and escargot infused with bone marrow and 2. Add the wine, turn up to high horseradish, are just a few examples of heat and bring to a boil. Add mussels, Cruz’s contemporary takes on French salt, pepper and cover immediately to cuisine. Especially for the at-home steam, around 5 to 8 minutes or until chef or someone just starting out, Cruz mussels are opened all the way. encourages experimentation to take a bit of the pressure off. You can’t expect 3. Add parsley and remaining butter, to produce a perfectly crisped confit or and stir until sauce is emulsified. flawlessly flambéed crêpes Suzette the Serve with slices of baguette. first time!
2. Add cream and reduce until you obtain a nice creamy texture.
3. In a bowl, mix frisee and mixed
green salad with garlic dressing. Add red onion and tomatoes and mix again.
4. On two plates or bowls, use the
salad to make a nest on the bottom. Spoon the creamy wild mushroom fricassee into the middle of the “nest.” Put the poached eggs on top. Season with salt and pepper, top with parsley and serve. Moules Marinières 12
Nestled in the French quarter of Edmonton is Café Bicyclette, a cozy café serving up both authentic French and Quebecois-style dishes. Chef John Lau specializes in simple, yet exceptional ingredients, which he says are the key to some of his favourite French dishes.
Café Bicyclette’s Cassoulet
“I love cassoulet. It’s a low-cost, delicious dish that can be either a vegetarian or a protein dish,” Lau says. “Salade Niçoise is another well-balanced dish with protein, vegetables and starch, but it’s not too heavy.” And when you think about ingredients, French food suddenly isn’t so different from Italian, Mediterranean, or even Japanese cuisine; using quality ingredients will result in a quality meal. For the home cook, Lau says being able to maximize on simple, yet high-quality ingredients (many of which you can still find at low cost) will give you more room to experiment and result in a truly delicious dish. “Always keep the word ‘play’ in your mind to enjoy cooking,” he says. “Cook with a variety of ingredients, and try different methods to prepare a dish. Use the ingredients you believe in to build up a new idea!” Start with one of the originals, and try Lau’s traditional take on Cassoulet. Chef John Lau
Café Bicyclette’s Cassoulet Serves 4
85 g duck fat 50 mL grated garlic 1.25 kg mirepoix (diced onions, celery, carrots) 2.5 kg navy beans (already soaked in water for 24 hours) 6 cups (1.5 L) light chicken stock (less sodium or no sodium) 1 rosemary sprig, finely chopped 28 g fresh thyme 1 bay leaf To taste salt and black pepper
1. Using a large pot, melt duck fat on
4. Bring the mixture to a boil, and
then turn the heat down to medium.
5. Cover and cook for around an
hour and a half or until beans are tender. Stir constantly to prevent burning at the bottom of the pot.
Always keep the word ‘play’ in your mind to enjoy cooking
medium heat. Add garlic and mirepoix, and sauté until soft.
2. Add beans and cook for two minutes, stirring occasionally.
Note: you may need more stock while cooking. Add as needed.
3. Add chicken stock until the bean
6. If you can, leave the cassoulet
mixture is just covered. Add rosemary, thyme and bay leaf.
overnight for the flavours to combine and develop. 13
If you haven’t had the pleasure of eating at Cassis Bistro in Calgary, go… right now. Focused on authentic fare from the south of France, chef de cuisine Callum Walklin says Cassis’ menu is all about traditional French food. Walklin says the bistro is so committed to tradition they’ve even made gratin using a recipe from the legendary French chef Escoffier from 100 years ago! Pulling off an authentic French dish may seem daunting or even impossible, but Walklin also has some butter-related advice to allay your fears. “The biggest difference is the amount of butter we use compared to at home,” he jokes. “But keep in mind, it’s supposed to be really rich cuisine. Don’t be afraid of French cuisine, there’s lots of great recipes out there. Just remember to use a lot of salt, butter, cream and garlic!” Try Walklin’s savoury pissaladière, a traditional French open tart.
Pissaladière Serves 4
1 tsp duck fat 6 large yellow onions, sliced 12 white anchovies (white anchovies are milder in flavour than the darker, saltier black anchovies, but you can easily use black at a pinch) 1 sheet puff pastry 12 Niçoise olives
*Note: Cassis prepare the onions at least a day in advance to allow the rich, caramelized taste to really come through.
1. Melt duck fat in a heavy-based pot
or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and cook slowly, stirring every few minutes with a wooden spoon, working and scraping the bottom of the pot.
2. When onions are soft and beginning
Chef Callum Walklin 14
to colour (about 30 minutes), turn the heat up a little and continue scraping the bottom of the pot as it cooks. Cook until onions turn a rich, dark amber colour. You’ll know the onions are done when a clear fat begins to separate from
the onions. Pour off fat and cool onions (these will keep up to five days in the refrigerator).
3. Cut the sheet of pastry into four, and line buttered tart shells. Fill tarts with onion mixture, and cook for 25 minutes at 375º F.
Just remember to use a lot of salt, butter, cream and garlic!
4. Remove tarts from oven. Add three
anchovies per tart, and place back in oven for another 10-15 minutes or until the tarts are cooked (look underneath to check).
5. Rip olives in half, and add six halves to each tart. Serve with arugula salad. Anna Brooks is an award-winning journalist and graduate student currently living and studying in New York City.
Mexico’s Culinary Resurgence by LINDA GARSON photography by INGRID KUENZEL and LINDA GARSON
Is there more to Mexican food than tacos or enchiladas? Is tequila only for shots? Fact: Mexican people are very proud of their cuisine, and so they should be; in 2010 UNESCO declared Mexican food a cultural heritage of humanity. “Traditional Mexican cuisine is a comprehensive cultural model comprising farming, ritual practices, age-old skills, culinary techniques, and ancestral community customs and manners,” the UN report reads.
“Why are dishes here always served with Mexican style rice and refried beans, lettuce, and sour cream? And we don’t put cilantro on everything,” she adds.
“It’s important to remember when you eat Mexican food, that it is part of a culture not just a stomach filler,” says Mexican caterer, Norma French, of Los Sabores de México.
“While nachos are often served at Mexican-American restaurants, they’re not a typical Mexican dish,” says Christian Greiffenstein of Urban Productions, organisers of
While Texas was a part of Mexico in the 1800s, it seems there’s confusion as to which foods are Texan and which are Mexican – nachos and burritos, for example.
Calgary’s new *MexiFest. “They were inspired by the ingredients of Mexico but would seem foreign to most people living south of the Rio Grande.” “Burritos are so North American,” adds Norma French. “I come from Mexico City, and you will not find a burrito on the menus, NOT AT ALL.” And hard shell tacos? “I have never seen anything like that in Mexico,” French says. “One of the beauties of Mexican food is the variety of dishes and salsas, especially fresh salsas. We do not use vinegar in our salsas, or cumin to spice them up.” So what should we expect when we visit Mexico? We went to discover 15
marinated and grilled hanger or skirt steak; and Cochinita Pibil from Yucatan – slow-roasted pulled pork marinated in citrus juice and seasoned with vivid orange annatto.
the popular and upcoming trends in Mexico City; here are just a few of our findings – and we’re hardly scratching the surface. Corn tortillas, tortillas, tortillas with every meal. As a staple, and instead of bread, food comes on them, in them (as a taco), and between them, and there’s always a basket of them, fresh and warm, on your table – if not two baskets. Breakfast regularly starts with bittersweet, rich, and maybe spiced, hot chocolate with sweet breads, (locally, pan dulces, and sometimes as big as your head!) such as the very popular conchas.
for breakfast every day, and 1,000 at weekends. Their most requested dish is Chilaquiles verde o rojos con pollo, a huge plate of tortilla chips simmered in green or red spicy sauce, topped with fresh cream cheese, onion, and 350 g of minced chicken – and you don’t have to share! Lunch is generally between 2-4pm, and is the main meal of the day. It probably involves meat that can be rolled into tortillas, such as Al Pastor, slow-cooked or spit-grilled marinated pork; Arrachera,
Street snacks are plentiful if you’re getting peckish late afternoon. Corn in Mexico isn’t sweet, and you’ll find elotes, corn cobs on sticks smothered in mayonnaise, cheese and chilis; and esquites, cooked kernels off the cob with the same spices. And to wash down all this goodness? Mexico has its own culture too when it comes to drinks. Agua frescas, soft drinks made from fruit or grains with sugar and water, are very popular. Try Agua de Jamaica with hibiscus, and rice-based Agua De Horchata.
These could be followed by an egg dish such as huevos divorciados (divorced eggs) with one fried egg coated in salsa roja and the other with salsa verde, or the prettiest dish imaginable – Omelette Flor de Calabaza, made with zucchini flowers. Or maybe it’s a selection of dishes to be scooped in tortillas, such as nata (the thickened cream from boiling raw milk), guacamole, nopales, or even mixiote – BBQ spiced meat cooked in maguey leaves. El Cardinal is probably the most famous breakfast spot in Mexico City, and still going strong after 48 years. Just one of their four restaurants feeds 500 people
Or maybe the cooked meat is served on baby tortillas as sopes, topped with carnitas (pulled pork), pollo (chicken), chorizo, or lengua (tongue). Likely zippy tortilla soup or hearty pozole (soup with hominy, meat, and lots of garnishes) feature here too.
Made from fermented agave sap, Pulque is one of the oldest fermented drinks in Mesoamerica. A century ago, there were more than 1,000 pulquerías in Mexico City, but while still easily available, it isn’t to everyone’s taste.
Beer is far more popular, and is often served as Michelada with a salt rim and lime; adding clamato to make Clamatada; or with added
Worcestershire sauce, Maggi sauce, and tabasco, for a spicy Cubana. But of course tequila is the star, although not in the same way as here. “Tequila and mezcal are like the best cognac or whisky,” says Alberta-based Mexican beverage importer, Juan Carlos Santarriaga. “They are sipping spirits that you can enjoy with a meal as well. One of the main problems is that in Mexico, at the all-inclusive resorts, you will have not a good tequila, and people think that tequila is only that,” he adds.
Fideo is Spanish for “noodle”, and this dry noodle soup is a comfort food staple in central Mexico and across the country. With no liquid, it may seem odd that it’s called soup at all, but the noodles have soaked it all up.
Sopa Seca de Fideo: 3 Ways Serves 4
2 Tbs (30 mL) oil 250 g vermicelli 2 medium Roma tomatoes ¼ onion 1 garlic clove 3 cups (720 mL) chicken stock or water 100 g grated cheese 1 large avocado, for garnish Salt and pepper
avocado cut in wedges.
Sopa seca de Fideo with black beans Ingredients as above for simple Fideo, plus 2 cups cooked black beans with their broth
1. Repeat step 1 and 2. 2. Reheat the beans and add to the soup just before serving. Let cook for a couple of minutes and serve with cheese and avocado wedges. Sopa seca de Fideo with black beans and chorizo
Simple Sopa seca de Fideo
Ingredients as above for simple Fideo, plus 150 g chorizo sausage, casing removed and diced small
1. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add
vermicelli and cook until medium brown, then drain and set aside.
2. In a blender, purée the tomatoes,
Norma French completely agrees. “In Mexico, tequila and mezcal are viewed completely differently. We drink both to enjoy the quality and their flavours, just before a meal, during, or after. Every family is very proud of their selections of tequilas or mezcales,” she explains.
3. To serve, sprinkle with cheese and add
onion and garlic. Add to the saucepan and mix with the vermicelli. Cook for 3 minutes over medium heat, add the chicken stock and cover the pan. Continue cooking until the noodles are tender and dry, around 20 minutes. Make sure that the liquid is absorbed and the noodles are not sticking to the pan, if necessary add more chicken stock or boiling water until done. Season to taste.
chorizo and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Using the same oil, add the vermicelli and brown.
2. Drain the oil and set aside, and
continue with step 2 above. When boiling, reduce the heat and add the chorizo, salt and pepper to taste, and cover the pan. Continue cooking until the noodles are tender and dry.
3. Serve with cheese and avocado wedges.
It’s very common to see people sipping premium tequila with a sangrita chaser, an acidic and spicy, non-alcoholic palate cleanser before or with meals, but smoky mezcal is the hot trend. High quality mezcal is served with apple slices dipped in grasshopper salt or lemon slices sprinkled with worm salt – maybe this will be the next big thing in Alberta too. * Mexican culture vultures look out for Mexifest, July 6-7 at Eau Claire Market. There are stages for dancers and live bands; a wrestling ring with luchadores (wrestlers) from Mexico; Mexican food and liquor vendors; an artisan market; kids area; and more. 17
The Many Faces of French Restaurants by DIANA NG
Just as tacos have become synonymous with Mexican cuisine, and tapas with Spanish food, hearty meats in sauces like duck l’orange and escargot in garlic butter were, for a long time, the face of French food in North America.
food in dim sum baskets, save for the fear of failure and embarrassment.
Legendary chefs like the late Paul Bocuse and Joel Robuchon set the standard for what French cuisine should be, and what diners aspired to splurge on.
“When you leave the table after dinner, you shouldn’t feel like you’re full and ate too much, which might be the secret of enjoying gastronomy,” says Anthony Bertrand, director of Alliance Française and Honorary Consul in Edmonton.
For those who yearn for a more casual dining experience, French dining means cafes, bistros, and brasseries, between which you can often find similar menus all with an eclectic mix of dishes with globally-inspired flavours, and spices far from traditional French flavours. 18
For a cuisine so historic, so well established, so important that it has become the standard for chefs’ training everywhere, that is such a significant contribution to Western cuisine as a whole, there seems to be so little understanding of its defining characteristics and structure, with the categories of French restaurants often muddied and rather meaningless. Nothing prevents a restaurateur from opening Joe’s Bistro and serving British
In addition to misnomers, a blanket misconception about French food is that it’s heavy, where every meal is a multi-course display of excess.
With so many different modern interpretations of French cuisine, it’s a good time to take a look at the roots, evolution and examples of various categories.
Bistros Born out of humble beginnings, Bistros are believed to have started from room and board apartments in Paris where landlords opened up their kitchens to the public. A stark contrast to the haute cuisine served in high-end restaurants and hotels, bistros were typified by chalkboard or verbally given menus, a sense of coziness, and home-style cooking like cassoulets and stews.
Bistros were typified by chalkboard or verbally given menus
Cafés Perhaps the most common Frenchstyle restaurant, and the first to be incorporated into the North American lexicon, cafes are small, laid-back restaurants that primarily serve coffee, beer and wine, and light meals. Those in Edmonton who want to take a trip to France via their taste buds can head to Café Bicyclette – one of Bertrand’s favourites in the city’s French Quarter – for Croque Monsieur and quiche. And for Calgarians, Vendome Café offers a range of sandwiches, salads and breakfast dishes that please.
Over time, bistros have evolved to include restaurants of a wider range, that are still cozy and personal, but with chefs who work with high quality, seasonal ingredients. In 2004, food writer Sebastien Demorand introduced the term bistronomie (a combination of bistro and gastronomie) to describe a new class of restaurants, “neo-bistros” set in more refined spaces and focused on freshness, while retaining an agile and relaxed personality. Calgary’s Cassis Bistro and Edmonton’s Normand’s Bistro are great examples of modern bistros that are inviting and casual, with seasonal menus and local ingredients that reflect the sense of place and time.
From Ceremony to Reception and a Good Night’s Sleep. Big or Small We Cater to it All.
In the heart of Calgary’s bustling 17 Avenue, Royale Brasserie is a great example of this restaurant style, offering classics as well as Canadian interpretations, like smoked Alberta lamb.
Purpose-driven and focused, creperies specialize in one thing: crepes. These thin pancakes can be sweet or savoury, filled with anything from jam and fruits to ham and eggs, meats, and vegetables.
“One place I like a lot for the service in the European fashion is Bistro Praha,” says Bertrand. “Plus the food there reminds me of some eastern restaurants in France, like in Strasbourg.”
Creperies can be in the form of a food stall or sit-down restaurant, as the dish is so versatile.
Need a loaf of sourdough or a stick of baguette? Skip the grocery store and head to a boulangerie instead.
Rooted in the beer-making culture in Europe in the 1800s, brasseries (French for breweries) have become much more than just a place for suds.
Brasseries have become much more than just a place for suds A marked difference between brasseries and bistros is the brasserie’s enduring menu selection, compared to the more seasonal and transitory menus of bistros. Over the years, brasseries have become big open restaurants known for singledish menu staples like moules frites, steak frites and steak au poivre. 20
While typical bakeries include all kinds of baked goods, from bread to pies and cakes, boulangeries are dedicated
to bread – croissants, brioche, baguettes and the like – with limited selection of other foods.
Patisserie Whether it’s for a pain au chocolat in the morning, a macaron for a midday pick-me-up, or a cake for a special occasion, a patisserie is the destination when the craving strikes for something sweet. For some of the most beautiful and delicious cakes, canelés, and macarons in Calgary, make your way to Yann Haute Patisserie, where the goods are as much a treat for the eyes as they are for the palate. Those in Edmonton with a sweet tooth can likely spend a good part of the afternoon at Duchess Bake Shop (another favourite of Bertrand’s) perusing its selection of desserts and complementary goods. Diana Ng is a co-founder of Eat North and freelance writer who will eat your food when you’re not looking.
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Who will you invite? SET-PRICE MENUS • WINE & BEER FESTIVALS • PROGRESSIVE DINNERS
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Cocktails Français: L’art De L’apéritif by LINDA GARSON photography by INGRID KUENZEL
In Canada we tend to celebrate the end of a busy day with happy hour, a chance to unwind with friends before going home or out to dinner. But in Europe, dinner is generally later and people linger over aperitifs (from the Latin aperire, meaning ‘to open’) before their meal to celebrate the start of the evening.
It’s a different mind-set but both work for us, so we asked two Alberta mixologists to create French cocktails that we can make at home, to enjoy after the bustle of the day and prepare for relaxation in the evening.
Chef David Omar ZINC, Edmonton
Zinc’s French Mystery cocktail is light, bright, and fresh, to stimulate your appetite for dinner. It is made with Grey Goose, a premium, luxury French vodka that is still overseen from field to bottle by its creator, François Thibault. “For those who have not yet had Grey Goose, this is the drink to have your first experience with,” says Zinc’s chef, David Omar. “They start with their own wheat mill, and it is blended with limestone filtered waters from the Cognac region to give a clean, smooth taste.” Chef Omar adds St. Germain, an elderberry flower liquor, to his cocktail. “This adds a delicate blend of citrus and pear,” he says. “The combination of the two ingredients is then paired with fresh squeezed grapefruit and rosemary to add more levels of flavour to an already delicate and delicious cocktail.”
1 oz Grey Goose 1 oz St Germain Splash of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice Pinch of rosemary
Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake well to combine the flavours. Strain and pour into a martini glass.
The Wednesday Room, Calgary “I developed this cocktail originally with inspiration from the classic Sidecar, and it grew from there to incorporate a tea base,” says Wednesday Room Bar Manager, Cody Goss. Cognac is one of Goss’ preferred spirits to work with as there aren’t yet too many cocktails using it here, but its popularity is rapidly growing amongst young consumers. “What’s more recognisable than Hennessey, bringing that smooth, spiced, and aromatic French spirit to the table,” he says.
Mercredi Cocktail Number 2 2 oz Hennessey VS ¾ oz French lavender syrup 1 dash Angostura bitters 1 lemon zest
Combine all ingredients in mixing glass and stir for 10 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over a single large ice cube to prevent watering down. Garnish with a lemon zest expressed (twisted to release the oils) high over the glass and placed in. This coats the whole glass with a thin coat of lemon oil so that the aroma is subtle, but it
will also transfer to your hand from the outside of the glass and leave a nice aroma. French Lavender Syrup 3 cups (750mL) water 200 g white sugar 100 g chamomile tea 12 tarragon leaves 40 g dried lavender
Bring water to a boil, and add sugar. Turn the heat to low, add tea and steep for 15 minutes. Strain, and let cool before adding tarragon and lavender. Leave the tarragon and lavender to infuse their flavours for 12 to 24 hours.
Tea is also one of Goss’ favourite ingredients as it enhances the flavour without adding too much sweetness, or distracting from the base spirits. In this recipe he has added lavender and tarragon too. “They help the chamomile tea blend in with the Cognac while maintaining that spirit-forward Old Fashioned-esque profile that is my personal favourite way to enjoy any premium spirit,” he explains. “And it keeps true to popular French ingredients to maintain authenticity.”
Cócteles Mexicanos: Fresh Flavours For Spring by LINDA GARSON photography by INGRID KUENZEL
Easter has come and gone, The Vanilla Burro and we’re at least two 2 oz Hornitos Plata tequila weeks into Spring, so it’s ½ a lime, juiced time to get fresh and fruity 1 dash vanilla extract 3-5 oz Fentimans ginger beer with tequila cocktails. Fresh mint, to garnish Many will be familiar with Margaritas and vodka-based Moscow Mules, but we asked two Alberta mixologists to add a creative twist and let us have their own versions of these classics for us to make at home.
Crash Hotel, Edmonton General manager, David Bryant, of Edmonton’s arty Crash Hotel has made a simple yet profound change to the all-time classic. “The Vanilla Burro takes what we love from the Moscow Mule, and adds that strong tequila punch that we all love so much,” he says. One of the hotel’s signature must-try cocktails, the Vanilla Burro uses one of Bryant’s favourite cocktail tequilas. He explains that Hornitos Plata is medium bodied and has a short finish so it doesn’t linger too long on the palate when mixed with other ingredients for cocktails. The fruitiness and fresh citrus flavours of the tequila help lift and elevate the drink, and the ginger beer adds a spicy kick. “Finishing strong with notes of vanilla and mint, this cocktail is always a huge crowd pleaser,” Bryant adds. “It’s good for any time of the year and any occasion.” 24
Wedge of lime, to garnish
Combine tequila, lime, and vanilla extract in a cocktail shaker, and add ice. Shake well to combine the flavours. Place ice into a copper mule cup if you have, or other cup, and strain the tequila mixture over top. Add ginger beer to taste, and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint pulled in a wedge of lime.
Blanco Cantina, Calgary “This drink is one of our best sellers,” says Blanco’s general manager, Kaureena Bayley. “It’s borrowed from our pals at Añejo! They offer the drink for one month every year, and we have it year round at Blanco Cantina,” she adds. “It’s great for summer, or anytime if you’re like us and pretend it’s summer all year long!”
Blanco make the watermelon puree in-house so it’s always fresh, and they use blanco tequila as it’s the most complementary, and allows the watermelon flavours to shine. Bayley says that it also gives a truer agave flavour, compared to an aged reposado or anejo, which is the flavour people most commonly associate with tequila, and they like to be able to taste it in a margarita.
Naturally sweet from the watermelon, the added agave nectar and tartness from the lime juice give a great balance. “We use agave nectar because it is made from agave plants – just like tequila!” Bayley says. “It has a more complex flavour than simple syrup, and gives your margarita more depth. In the restaurant this is our sweetener of choice for all our margaritas.” However, she adds that simple syrup would suffice if you don’t have agave nectar.
Watermelon Margarita 1 oz tequila (Blanco use a blanco tequila, but not just for the name!) ½ oz orange liqueur (a triple sec such as Curaçao) 2 oz watermelon puree – ripe watermelon, cubed, then blended into juice – easy! 1 oz fresh lime juice ½ oz agave nectar
Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake well. If you like your cocktail sweeter, adjust by adding a little more agave nectar. Rim a Collins glass with salt, and pour in the mixture. Garnish with a lime wedge, or mini watermelon slice!
Step By Step: Souffles
story and photography by RENEE KOHLMAN
A soufflé is like magic. Eggs and a few pantry ingredients are transformed into a lofty masterpiece just by incorporating air. Puffed to perfection, a soufflé really is quite the sight to behold before it collapses with the first spoonful. While there are a few rules, a cheese soufflé is quite simple to prepare, and makes an impressive brunch dish, whether it is for Easter Sunday, or a lazy weekend morning.
gently folded together before baking. The word soufflé means “to breathe” or “to puff”, which is what those beaten egg whites do to the base once the soufflé hits the high heat of the oven.
The soufflé has two components: a base, which includes the yolks; and glossy, beaten egg whites. The two parts are
The base of the soufflé can be sweet or savoury. If it is sweet, it can be made from a fruit purée or melted
chocolate. These make a spectacular, showstopping dessert. Savoury soufflés usually incorporate cheese, vegetables, and seafood, and are fabulous for brunch or a light lunch. The base for a savoury soufflé is a cooked sauce of butter, milk, egg yolks, and some sort of starch, like flour. Regardless of whether the soufflé is sweet or savoury, jaws will drop as you present your dish to the table. Soufflés are so spectacular they have their very own baking dish created
for them. A deep ceramic dish with straight sides holds the heat evenly so the centre will cook at the same time as the edges. Expanding air moves upward, thus we get the coveted poof. While you may want to flex your muscles and beat those whites by hand (kidding – who ever beats whites by hand anymore?), it is best to use an electric mixer, either handheld or stand mixer, which will get the most volume out of the egg whites. But be sure not to overbeat the whites as they will make the soufflé grainy. They should be able to hold stiff peaks (when you lift the whisk out of the whites, it will create a little curl that stays upright without drooping), but still look glossy.
Three Cheese and Dill Soufflé Serves 4
Jaws will drop as you present your dish to the table
When incorporating the beaten whites into the base of the soufflé, a light touch is imperative. You want to work quickly but gently, and a few streaks of whites remaining is more than fine. I like to bake my soufflés in a preheated oven, on the very bottom rack, with a baking sheet inside warming up with the oven. Placing your soufflé on this hot baking sheet will give it an initial blast of heat, which will expand the air trapped inside the batter. Do not open the oven for the first 25 minutes of cooking, as you risk deflating it. A soufflé is done when it is puffed, nicely browned and barely jiggly in the middle. Take a few seconds to admire your handiwork, then serve it to those you’ve gathered round your table. Be well-prepared for the gasps of joy.
3 Tbs unsalted butter, plus more for coating dish 5 Tbs finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided 1 cup (250 mL) whole milk 3 Tbs all-purpose flour ½ tsp paprika ½ tsp dry mustard powder ½ tsp salt Pinch ground nutmeg 5 large egg yolks 5 large egg whites ½ tsp cream of tartar ½ cup shredded aged cheddar ½ cup grated Gruyère cheese 2 Tbs chopped fresh dill
1. Preheat oven to 400º F and place
a baking sheet on the lowest rack. Generously butter a 1.5 L soufflé dish. Coat the bottom and sides with 3 Tbs Parmesan cheese, tapping out any excess.
2. In a small pot, heat the milk until
steaming. Meanwhile, melt the butter in over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and whisk in the warm milk. Return the skillet to the heat and cook until thickened and smooth, whisking constantly, about 3 minutes.
3. Remove the skillet from the heat and whisk in paprika, dry mustard, salt and nutmeg. Whisk in the egg yolks one at a time, blending well after each addition. Transfer the flour and yolk mixture to a large bowl.
4. Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar at medium speed until the mixture holds stiff peaks. They should still be glossy and not dry.
5. Fold a quarter of the whites into the
barely warm yolk mixture to lighten. Gently fold in remaining whites in two additions while gradually sprinkling in the cheddar, Gruyère, remaining 2 Tbs Parmesan, and the dill. Transfer the batter to the prepared dish. Rub your thumb around the inside edge of the dish to create a 5 mm or so space between the dish and the soufflé mixture.
6. Place the dish on the baking sheet in
the oven and reduce temperature to 375º F. Bake until soufflé is puffed and golden brown on top and the centre barely jiggles when dish is shaken gently, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately. Renée Kohlman is a busy food writer and recipe developer living in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Her debut cookbook All the Sweet Things was published last year. 27
Taking Craft Beer To New Heights: Bars Are Making Their Own by KIRK BODNAR
Craft beer is so popular these days, it’s no surprise that a number of craft beer-focused venues have opened across the province over the past few years. Many of these locations have begun to satisfy the varied palates of their customers by expertly curating their beer lists, but many are also incorporating craft beer into the overall design of their food menus as well. Many restaurants and bars feature beer pairings, offer sampling flights, and even employ beer consultants. And now we’re seeing some take it to yet another level. How can you possibly reflect your appreciation of local craft beer even more? You make your own of course! But when a bar decides that it wants to produce and sell its own beer, it’s not as simple as brewing up a batch in 28
Cilantro and Chive
the kitchen (the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission would definitely have something to say about that). One way would be for a bar to become a “brewpub” and install a full brewing system – though that is not our focus today. Instead we’ve seen bars and breweries working collaboratively to create beer that would be produced and sold exclusively at that one location.
local craft beer, and often include rare and exclusive selections.
Some may be surprised to find one of Alberta’s best beer-focused restaurants in the small, central-Albertan city of Lacombe, but Cilantro and Chive is one such restaurant that has decided to take their craft beer appreciation to the next level. Owner Rieley Kay’s vast bottle selection and draft beer taps feature
Additionally, they often collaborate with breweries to produce rare and unique “cask beers” which are only available until the cask runs dry. Having a hand in designing exclusive beers gives them the ability to offer something new and exciting, and also provides them an opportunity to ensure that the beer
Cilantro and Chive has also worked with a number of breweries, such as Lacombe’s Blindman Brewing and Calgary’s Village Brewery among others, to produce small run, “pilot” beers that are exclusive to Cilantro and Chive, and only available for a short time.
complements their delicious, locallysourced food (the braised duck wings are amazing, by the way).
Pig and Duke
At Edmonton’s Arcadia Bar, they’ve also been committed to supporting Alberta-produced craft beer from day one. The pub is smaller when compared to some other craft beer bars, and features only six taps and a number of bottles, but the beer list is well curated and features Alberta-made beer exclusively.
Many feature beer pairings, offer sampling flights, and even employ beer consultants
Recently, Arcadia owner Darren McGeown decided to work with Edmonton’s new Town Square Brewing Company to create a house beer for Arcadia Bar. Town Square’s Up the Arcadia Session IPA was the result. The beer is a flavourful, yet easy drinking IPA that doesn’t try to be anything over the top or in your face. This successfully reflects Arcadia’s laid back, and perhaps even somewhat Libertine, sensibilities. In Calgary, most beer lovers know that if they are looking to enjoy some great beer in a great environment, they don’t need to look any further than the Pig and Duke. Both Pig and Duke locations have been a staple of Calgary’s craft beer scene for a number of years and have
been supporting local craft breweries since day one, long before many other locations were willing to risk limiting their selection of mainstream beers.
eventually having a stand-off with a cow in a pasture in a drunken stupor. Despite the name, both the cow and the pig survived the encounter.
Now, drawing on their success and the relationships they have developed with local breweries, the Pig and Duke has also taken it a step further. Owner Stephen Lowden was trying to figure out a way to be able to offer excellent happy hour prices on local craft beer without losing his shirt in the process.
Based on the success of Cow Killa, the Pig and Duke have decided to collaborate again, this time with local favourite, Village Brewery, to produce a Pilsner that is light enough for the mainstream beer fan, but which still maintains the subtle complexity of a very well-made craft beer.
The solution that Lowden came up with was to collaborate with local Toolshed Brewing Company and together produce a unique beer, and commit to purchasing it in quantity. This provided the Pig and Duke with the opportunity to offer an exclusive (and quite delicious) house craft beer – somewhat inexpensively – without it being a “cheaply made” beer.
Reservoir Pigs (the name being a reference to Lowden’s favourite Tarantino movie) is a craft pilsner sold exclusively in tall cans, a format that has become popular as of late. Reservoir Pigs is not available in retail locations, so you need to head over to either Pig and Duke location to give it a try.
Thus the Cow Killa Red Ale was born. If you ever get the opportunity, you should ask Lowden to explain the dramatic and humorous (and apparently true!) story behind Cow Killa - involving an Australian pig developing a taste for beer and
The trend of creating exclusive “house beers” through the collaboration of bars and breweries is growing steadily, and truly reflects the close-knit nature of Alberta’s craft beer scene. Kirk Bodnar is a Certified CICERONE®, BJCP beer judge, beer consultant, history teacher, home brewer, and Education Director for CAMRA Alberta. Follow him on Twitter @beersnsuch 29
Tips From Alberta’s Taco Masters by PHIL WILSON
For Mexican chef Israel Alvarez, the tacos he encountered in Edmonton when he moved here over 10 years ago bore no resemblance to the quintessential and iconic street food he grew up eating on the streets of Mexico City. Those hard fried shells filled with ground meat seasoned with supermarket spice mixes, topped with sour cream, shredded cheddar, and jarred salsa, while undeniably delicious in their own right, are a heavily mutated version of the real thing.
take your taco game to the next level with the help of some key players in Alberta’s Mexican food community.
Chef Alvarez spent years as Sous Chef at Pujol, widely regarded as the best Mexican restaurant in the world (currently #20 on Old El Paso has its place, but we want to the World’s Best Restaurants list), and see you up your street food street cred, and has Mexican food street cred in spades. 30
His Comal pop-up series in Edmonton focused on fresh tortillas using the traditional nixtamal process, by which starchy dried corn is boiled in an alkaline solution to break down the tough outer husk of the corn and enhance it’s nutritional value in the process. It’s then ground on a special machine fitted with volcanic rock to achieve the perfect consistency for tortillas. Let’s face it though, none of us are about to go through all that to make tortillas, but there are plenty of ways to make the best out of all three essential components of the taco – the tortilla, the filling, and the toppings.
Native Tongues Taqueria
Troy Fleischhaker, owner of Calgary’s Cruz Tacos, says: “With a little practice, making tortillas at home is fun. You’ll need to buy a tortilla press and watch a couple YouTube videos to get the technique.” The payoff on homemade tortillas is there though, and since they involve just two inexpensive ingredients – finely ground corn (called masa) and water, you won’t break the bank honing your skills.
Wrapping the cooked tortillas in a towel is key
“Wrapping them lets them steam just a little to finish cooking and stay moist.” Alvarez adds that he likes to keep water nearby and mist the tortillas as necessary to keep them from going dry. Now that you have a great base for your taco, you’ve got to fill it with something delicious. Instead of ground beef, Willis suggests slow cooking pork shoulder so it braises in it’s own fat, to make carnitas. Reheating on high heat will give you a good sear on it. As a bonus, you can brush some of that tasty pork fat on your tortillas before toasting them, which will keep them even more moist and flavourful.
Once you’ve mixed your masa with enough water to form a dough, and flattened your tortilla, it’s time to toast it on a griddle over medium-high heat until lightly browned on both sides. Place them in a slightly damp towel to keep warm.
Tacos don’t have to always be about the meat though, and as Dani Braun, co-owner of Edmonton’s Tres Carnales explains, one of their most popular tacos is vegan. “We use the exact same sauce from our Al Pastor to marinade cauliflower, sauté it, and top it with pineapple salsa.”
Wrapping the cooked tortillas in a towel is key, says Native Tongues Taqueria owner Cody Willis.
The biggest difference between real Mexican tacos and our northern knockoffs just may be the salsas, which
tend to be more of an afterthought here. Chef Alvarez says, “Often the fillings are similar, so the quality of the salsas is how we judge a really good taco in Mexico.”
Find tasty tacos in Calgary at:
Be they roasted salsas, fried, or fresh, salsas add an essential complement to the rich fatty meats. Every good taco shop should have both a red and green salsa, and most tacos benefit from the addition of the classic diced white onion and cilantro.
Native Tongues Taqueria 403-263-9444, nativetongues.ca
Another way to elevate your taco experience is to swap out the sour cream for your own homemade crema or crème fraiche. You can make your own crème fraiche by simply adding a tablespoon or two of buttermilk to one cup (240 mL) of heavy cream, and letting it sit a day or two covered on the counter until it reaches your desired consistency.
Añejo Restaurant, 587-353-2656 anejo.ca
Tubby Dog, 403-244-0694 tubbydog.com The Spicy Amigos, 587-353-1484 thespicyamigos.com From that base you can add roasted poblano peppers, fresh herbs, or pureed chipotles for a chipotle crèma, a classic topping for fish tacos. Braun adds that you should never be afraid to char your vegetables. “Charring is an undesirable trait in many cuisines, but is valued in Mexican cuisine.”
To help make your taco Tuesday experience worthy of a weekend, Chef Alvarez has provided an incredibly easy salsa recipe that adds a punch of flavour to any taco.
Taqueria Style Salsa Verde with Avocado Makes 2 cups
Los Chilitos Taco and Tequila House 403-228-5528, loschilitos.ca Blanco Cantina, 403-228-1854 blancocantina.ca
In Edmonton at: Tres Carnales Taqueria, 780-429-0911 trescarnales.com Calle Mexico, 780-705-0901 callemexicofoodtruck.com El Cortez, 780-760-0200 elcortezcantina.com The Three Amigos, 780-490-6394 threeamigosedmonton.com Huma Mexican Comfort 780-433-9229 humamexicanrestaurant.ca,
6 medium tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and roughly chopped ½ cup packed cilantro leaves and stems 3 Tbs (45 mL) fresh lime juice To taste kosher salt 2 garlic cloves 2 serrano chilis, stemmed and roughly chopped 1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled ¹/³ medium white onion, roughly chopped
La Patrona Sherwood Park 780-570-1200, lapatrona.rocks
Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
Tequila and Tacos, Airdrie 587 775 5758, tequilaandtacos.ca
Phil Wilson is a food writer at Baconhound, Culinaire Magazine, and regular contributor for CBC Edmonton. Phil has a passion for comfort food, which is why he doesn’t own any speedos.
Aroma Mexican Restaurant Canmore, 403 675 9913 aromamexicanrestaurant.com
And around Alberta at: Mexico Lindo Tacos & Grill Sherwood Park, 780-464-0528 mexicolindo.ca
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Tequila: The Magical Drink Of Mexico by DAVID NUTTALL
Tequila is quite possibly, the most misunderstood spirit on earth...leading to numerous “anything but tequila please” declarations... While it has many myths and legends, it can also be an elegant and sophisticated spirit. For a drink that has been around for over 400 years, it is amazing how many people don’t know much about it, what kinds there are, or even how to drink it properly. Most just know it comes from Mexico, and that you can buy a shot of it in any bar. To understand what tequila really is, start with knowing that it is produced from Tequilana Weber Blue Agave, (which is part of the lily family), it must be grown in selected areas of Mexico; essentially part of the state of Jalisco around the town of Tequila and in limited areas in bordering states. The agave plant takes six to ten years to mature, so terroir becomes a great influence on the final product. After the plants (piñas) are harvested, cooked, pressed, fermented and distilled, the resultant liquid is tequila. This spirit then
gets watered down to no more than 40 percent ABV and subsequently bottled or aged in barrels. Within this process, the liquid can go down two very different roads to create the two main tequila categories. If blended with (up to 49 percent) sugars before fermentation, it becomes Tequila Mixto upon distillation. It can be bottled clear, or coloured with caramel to create gold tequila. Mixto accounts for over 90 percent of all tequila sold, and can range wildly in quality. Because of this, it is often shot, with or without the salt and lime ritual. The 100 percent agave category is unblended. The Mexican tequila regulatory committee, El Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT), recently modified the classifications within this category. Silver (white/blanco) is unaged. Gold (young/joven) may see some time in a
barrel, but most likely is simply coloured like the mixtos. Aged (reposado) has spent at least two months in barrels, Extra Aged (añejo) ages for one year, and it is called Ultra Aged (extra añejo) if it is matured for up to three years or more, commonly in old spirit or wine oak barrels which are no larger than 600 litres. The 100 percent agave versions are infinitely smoother than mixtos and are really meant to be sipped and savoured – much like any other fine spirit. The colour can range from clear to gold to dark amber. The aroma and flavours can be quite herbaceous, even peppery, in blancos, and extend to caramel and vanilla in aged versions. These tequilas may also start to inherit the characteristics of the barrel’s previous tenant the longer they mature. Mixtos are harsher, causing that famous tequila “cringe” when shot back. In Mexico, mixtos are sometimes chased with sangrita, a tomato/orange/lime/ hot pepper beverage made to soften the sharpness of unaged versions. The margarita is world famous and the Tequila Caesar is a wonderful cocktail, yet
few realize tequila actually makes a great mixer, where good blancos can easily replace many gins, vodkas, and white rums in recipes. It is also a lighter spirit than it is given credit for, allowing for fine cream liqueurs and numerous flavoured versions, with coffee, chocolate, pomegranate, almond, and coconut being quite common. However, if you are drinking 100 percent agave varieties, they are best consumed neat. Considering their prices, you may not want to dilute them in cocktails. To start appreciating some of the over 350 tequilas available in Alberta, first understand the different classifications, and then you can start caring about what regions the agave was grown, the kinds of ovens used, how the juice was extracted and distilled, how long and in what it was aged, etc. Inevitably though, most people still end up buying the product in the prettiest bottle….
Made with slow roasted highland (Los Altos) piñas in hand-built, brick ovens, then distilled in both a pot still for flavour, followed by a column still for smoothness. When the owners first tasted it, they declared it was a “miracle” (milagro). Very crisp, with a flinty taste and peppery finish. CSPC +733111, $46
Tequila 30-30 Reposado
Named after the Winchester rifle used by Pancho Villa in the Mexican Revolution. Distilled twice and aged in white oak barrels for at least 7 months. Straw colour with hints of caramel, vanilla, and a cinnamon finish. The best tequila for the money in Alberta. CSPC +731666, $40
Clase Azul Reposado
Aged 8 months in oak barrels and presented in beautiful hand-crafted bottles, this highland tequila’s flavour is a combination of vanilla and toffee with a slightly woody finish. CSPC +755540, $130
Aha Toro Extra Aged
Made with agaves grown at 2100 metres above sea level. The cool, semi-dry climate and soil conditions give the agave unique characteristics. This tequila is aged more than three years in American oak barrels. Incredibly soft, but spicy with essences of toffee and vanilla. CSPC +755608, $105
A True Classic. Redefined. A nod to the past, with a tip of the hat to today.
Casa Noble Anejo
Coming from certified organic agave grown in volcanic soils, this tequila is triple distilled, then aged for a full two years in new, unused, lightly toasted French white oak barrels. Velvety smooth with flavours of coffee and butterscotch. CSPC +703525, $92
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Spirits Of France by LINDA GARSON
When you think of French spirits, I’m guessing Cognac comes to mind, along with anise-flavoured pastis. Adrien Camut 6 year Calvados Pays d’Auge
French whisky is less well known, and it seems Alberta has not yet embraced Calvados, the apple brandy of Normandy. With our privatised liquor system, we’re introduced to new products on a regular basis, and happily, this month many of these brand new premium spirits are from France.
Daucourt Bastille 1789 Single Malt Whisky Daucourt whiskies are made in the Cognac region, just west of Périgord Limousin Parc Naturel, where the super-expensive Limousin oak casks that age fine wines are from. A lovely hint of smoke on the nose is followed by cherry, then toffee. The cherry becomes more evident on the palate, along with delicate citrus and more toffee, making this an ideal after-dinner sipping whisky. I just want to keep on sipping it. CSPC +796561 Around $79
Daucourt Bastille 1789 Blended Whisky These large Chanel perfume-style bottles are immediately attractive. Daucourt’s blended whisky has aromas and flavours of honey, brown sugar, milk chocolate, and dried apricot and peach, with a silky smooth mouth-feel. For cocktails, or sipping for sheer pleasure. CSPC +798276 Around $57
Kornog Single Malt Whisky Roc’h Hir The tiny Glann Ar Mor distillery is on Brittany’s wild north coast, where they make very limited quantities in their two small copper pot stills. Kornog is 36
the name of the peated whiskies – a must try for peat heads. Roc’h Hir ages in Bourbon barrels for three years, and has a delightfully smoky nose, which – unusual in a peated whisky – is balanced by an exotic fruitiness. CSPC + 797780 $125
Kornog Single Malt Whisky Sauternes Cask A different beast altogether. Less than 1,000 bottles were produced of this elegant and rich, amber whisky, and the flavours from the ex-Sauternes casks are markedly different to sibling Roc’h Hir. You’ll find a complex mix of orange marmalade, sweet spice, and mocha – along with peat of course! CSPC + 797780 $170
The Camut family have been producing Calvados for over 200 years, and are widely regarded as the top calvados producer in the area. They grow around 25 varieties of organic apples, and they’re all made into cider, which is distilled to produce brandy. This 6 yearold is amazingly smooth, with juicy apple flavours and a whisper of butterscotch. If this is your first introduction to Calvados, you’ll likely be back to try the rest of the range. CSPC +795482 $110
Adrien Camut 12 year Calvados Pays d’Auge This is definitely the big brother, with noticeable spice and vanilla aromas from those extra years in barrels. The fresh apple flavour has softened to cooked apple, and the caramel flavour has become dark brown sugar. Delish! CSPC +797831 $161
Spytail Black Ginger Rum This family owned distillery in the Cognac region ages Caribbean rums with fresh ginger and spices, making Spytail one of the most perfect après ski drinks. The long finish seems to go on forever, and there’s a warming, spicy kick from the ginger, along with delicious and familiar notes of vanilla and Demerara sugar. Drink on it’s own or with an ice cube, or add ginger beer to kick up the spice another notch. CSPC +789110 Around $42
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APRIL 27 - MAY 6, 2018
Please... Let It Be Spring by TOM FIRTH
Maybe I’m just getting older, but this past winter felt like one colder than usual and my snow shovel got a little more play than usual too. So, in the spirit of uncertainty, as who knows what the heck April will be like, I’ve scoured the globe to share a few recommendations that can be enjoyed neat or mixed, for April showers, or April snowfalls.
Crystal Head Aurora Vodka Canada There is no doubting the interest the Crystal Head vodkas received when they hit the shelves with their striking bottles, and not to mention the connection it has with Canadian screen icon, Dan Ackroyd. Look for a pretty big nose with cereal notes and more than a little fire. It’s not a very smooth vodka, but it has a creamy texture, and some wonderfully mellow flavours. Sure, it will look good on the shelf, but you’ll find yourself reaching for it now and then. CSPC +780619 $68-72
are a little softer (at 35 percent), and the flavours lean towards sweetness and tartness (dare I say it’s a Granny Smith caramel apple in a glass). But it does grow on you, leaving me to enjoy it best neat as a slow sipper. CSPC +792831 $25
Reyka Small Batch Vodka Iceland Capitalizing on the new-found popularity of all things Icelandic, and walking hand-in-hand with the pure and almost untamed wilderness perception of the island, Reyka is also distilled using renewable energy from the numerous geothermal opportunities of the nation. Clean as the driven snow on the nose, with bare hints of peppercorn, juniper, and grassiness. There is a greenish edge to the flavours as well, leaning towards cedar and heat. Discussion-worthy for sure, and would be a staple at home if you love vodka-based drinks. CSPC +786555 $40
Torres Rocado Reposado Tequila Mexico The very epitome of a smooth, sipping tequila – far too good for slamming two at a time while wearing cowboy boots. Mild citrus aromas with minty (!) characters and a cool earthiness. Bright, and mellow on the palate with a long, smooth finish…yet still plenty of kick for tequila fans, drink it slowly and drink it neat…. CSPC +780117 $87
Spirit of Hven Navy Strength Organic Gin, Sweden At a near-searing 57 percent alcohol, this was my first foray into navy strength gin, but wow, does it work. Cereal grain aromas with pepper, wet denim, and flowery aromas with a little heat, the palate brings a kick, but aromatics are clean and balanced with a liquorice-type finish. Try in a G&T or even with just a press of water. CSPC +798733 $69-72
J.P Wiser’s Apple Whisky Canada I’ll grant that I have a mild aversion to flavoured whiskies, but fully accept that there are plenty of people that really love them. Wiser’s Apple whisky is flavoured with natural ingredients, yielding a caramel laden undercurrent from the spirit, and a prominent and room-filling green apple and perfumed nose. Alcohols 38
Tom is a freelance wine writer, wine consultant, and wine judge. He is the contributing Drinks Editor for Culinaire Magazine, and is the Competition Director for the Alberta Beverage Awards. Follow him on twitter @cowtownwine
Have You Entered Your Wine, Beers And Spirits Yet? Registration Deadline June 29 Judging Takes Place July 16â€“18
Visit culinairemagazine.ca/aba to enter your wines, beers, and spirits for the 2018 Alberta Beverage Awards.
For more information, contact competition director Tom Firth: firstname.lastname@example.org
Making The Case: For French Wine by TOM FIRTH
With all things French on our minds for our April issue, it seemed like a good idea to share some recent favourites from one of the great wine countries – France. By no means should this be considered a comprehensive “roundup” of French wines, since I do skip a number of notable appellations, but given the uncertainty of an Alberta spring (who else keeps their snow
shovel handy till May?), these are great wines to enjoy when the menu, or the weather can be a little uncertain.
Gérard Bertrand 2014 Corbières, France A very highly rated wine, and bearing several major accolades (at a ridiculous price), look for mildly jammy and sour red berry fruit aromas, while flavours are ripe and clean with tight fruits, crisp acidity (think of the food options!) and a slightly earthy finish without too much tannin. Food wise, I’m liking thoughts of sausage or charcuterie, firm cheeses, or barbecued meats. CSPC +730191 $19-20
Sante! Sichel 2015 Margaux, Bordeaux, France The wines of Margaux are some of the most highly sought after and desirable wines from France, but very few are so well priced. Look for cedar and cherry aromas with vanilla bean and bristle brush on the nose, while in the mouth, flavours are exceptionally well integrated, very drinkable, but also should improve with a little more time in the cellar. Food? Follow your heart…. CSPC +775972 $45-47
Le Petit Lion du Marquis de Las Cases 2015 Saint Julien, Bordeaux, France
Photograph by Linda Garson 40
One of those very rare wines to taste that resonates across your palate and says in no uncertain terms, “this is damn good”. Roughly half cabernet sauvignon and merlot with 8 percent cabernet franc, the nose exhibits tension and nuance with spice box, cherry fruits, and crushed rock mineral tones. Flavours are lush and layered, and yes - ready to drink, though 5-10 years in the cellar will yield a treasure. CSPC +796083 $90
Chateau de la Gardine 2016 Brunel de la Gardine, Cotes du Rhone, France
Mas des Etoiles 2012, Cahors, France
Sichel 2014 Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France
While malbec from Argentina gets much of the glory, Cahors in France has a wonderful, if slightly more “old world” expression. Dark plum fruits, rich soil, and quite perfumed on the nose, it has the intensity and tannins malbec fans will love in a clean and slightly juicy fruit profile. Bring on the steaks! CSPC +755929 About $25
A sort of… everyday Bordeaux made from cabernet and merlot grapes, proving that pulling a bottle of Bordeaux from the cellar doesn’t require the fanciest of occasions. Berry fruits with cedar wood tones and a hint of leather on the nose, while flavours benefit from restrained tannins and a bright, easy finish. Would pair very nicely with red meats or an Irish style stew. CSPC +775973 $18
Fugue de Nénin 2012 Pomerol Bordeaux, France
Zinck 2016 “Portrait” Gewürztraminer Alsace, France
There is something a little magical about white Rhone wines, the lifted stone fruits and floral aromas, the citrus leaf and touch of mineral on the nose… can you tell I love them? Crisp, fresh, and balanced on the palate as well, this is wellmade wine for casual evenings or dinners with roasted poultry on the menu. CSPC +779636 $18
A merlot-driven Bordeaux with 18 percent cabernet franc (two of my favourite grapes), this 2012 is tightly wound with plum, cherry, and leather, dominating, but look for roasted strawberry and mild herb aromas too. Just as good in the mouth with bright acids and good tannin balance. Should pair with tender cuts of beef or stews. CSPC +796084 $65
There is just something exotic about drinking good gewürztraminer, maybe it’s the peach and mandarin orange aromas, the lychee, the floral bouquet, or maybe it’s the touch of (very well balanced) sweetness that Alsace brings to this lovely grape. You know what? Just drink this, maybe pair with some Asian style cuisine or lighter seafood dishes. CSPC +702458 $20
Laurent Dufouleur 2015 Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits Burgundy, France
Clos de L’Oratoire des Papes 2015 Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc Cotes du Rhone, France
Domaine de Beyssac 2014 Essential Cotes du Marmandais, France
There really isn’t quite another wine experience like great Burgundy. Slightly subdued on the nose with softer, cherry fruits, stewed tomatoes, carrot tops and dried flowers. Light bodied with lean fruits, depth, and a constantly evolving finish. Lovely juice for a pinot lover. Pair with anything that showcases mushrooms or salmon. CSPC+ 788311 $22-24
A stunner from start to finish with intense peach and plum fruits, a bright, white floral character and on the palate, silken textures and a deep and discussion-worthy palate. Quite honestly, the type of white wine you open a second bottle of before you know it. Would handle lighter cream sauces with ease, but also roast or barbecued fowl. CSPC +768208 $47-50
The Rhone is one of the best places to find value in French wines for sure. Often with the tannins we love, but all the spice, earth, and black fruit we crave. Slightly earthy through the palate, the dry tannins and spice box call out for all sorts of meaty dishes like roasts, stews, or meat sauces. Deelish! CSPC +737215 $19
Jaboulet Ainé 2015 Parallèle 45 Cotes du Rhone Blanc Cotes du Rhone, France
A highly unusual blend (outside of the region) of merlot and a nearly unheard-of grape – abouriou, and also fully organic. The nose shows blueberry and raspberry fruits, but also finer notes of earth and soil, sweat and farm too, leading one to know that this is a wine of place. Full-bore tannins support black fruit flavours calling out to be paired with braised meats, briskets, or well-charred steaks. Delicious. CSPC +795942 $32 41
Open That Bottle story by LINDA GARSON photography by INGRID KUENZEL
“Being in estate planning, I’m curious as to how these family businesses continue and keep their relevance as a younger generation takes over the brand, but needs to respect the name, and enhance and protect it,” says Roy Klassen, Honorary Consul of France. Klasson spent his formative years in Calgary until leaving for university at the Facilité St. Jean in Edmonton. After law school, he spent five years working in Bermuda, and then five years in Switzerland, before joining Macleod Law in 2009. His parents raised pheasants as a hobby, and as a youngster his first memories were learning which wine went well with pheasant, and why – is it a wild pheasant or a raised one? What accompaniments and sauce are we serving? He remembers his first restaurant culinary experience; his mom was a French teacher and ran a program where they’d go to La Chaumiere. “She brought me for lunch, and there was that whole Les Arts de la Table – how the table was set, the different glasses and utensils, how we serve the meal – there was an aura around the meal, so it wasn’t just the food, it was taking the time to have the meal, and to appreciate the surroundings and the settings.” In 2010, he was working closely with the French Consulate in Calgary, but in 2013 they closed the office and reinstated an honorary consul position. “I am not part of the diplomatic service, but I’m France’s man on the ground in Calgary, so to speak,” he says. “The day after I came into the job, by coincidence, the 42
French president arrived in Banff, so that was quite an exciting day for me, and a crash course in diplomatic etiquette,” he adds. “It was the first time there had been an official French presidential visit in Alberta. There was a state lunch, and a number of French companies came to discover Alberta and the beauty of the area.” So what bottle is Klassen is saving for a special occasion? He was given a new-to-him champagne last summer. “I didn’t know about it, but what was very special to me was the name “Cuvée des Ambassadeurs”. Being an honorary consul that caught my eye quickly,” he smiles. “What I enjoyed about the first time I tried this wine was not only was it a fine champagne, it had a unique, fruity, distinctive aroma and taste to it that that in others I hadn’t really noticed before,” he adds. “It was really special experience.” Klasson also discovered the story of General Patton, who loved champagne and set up his headquarters at the Dampierre estate in World War II. From here he freed large parts of France, including the Champagne region. And Comtes de Dampierre still continues the ageold tradition of ficelage
for some wines – an early 18th century, painstaking method of tying the cork to the bottle with hemp thread. “So there’s great history here, and what I like about these French wines is to discover the story behind the chateau and the producers; when did it change hands, how do they maintain these brands 300 and 400 years later; and the ancient traditions that go on to the next generation,” he says. And when might he open the champagne? “I would say this has to be a fairly special occasion. The first time I tried it I had it around the Feast of Kings, and it’s also nice either as an appetizer or at dessert time with Galette des Rois, the almond torte that is served on the Feast of Kings,” says Klasson. “Champagne is something that it’s nice to have other people to appreciate it with; it’s a wine of celebration.”
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