ALBERTA / FOOD & DRINK / RECIPES MARCH 2023
From Sake to Sukiyaki – our Japanese issue | Festivals | Chocolate Easter Bunnies
winery bistro | Wine Shop & Bistro Open for the Season! At Hillside, our focus is to showcase the unique and compelling characteristics inherent in the terroir of Naramata Bench. Join us in the discovery and development of this enchanting region Naramata grown. And raised. HAND-CRAFTED WINE MADE EXCLUSIVELY FROM NARAMATA BENCH GROWN GRAPES. hillsidewinery.ca
The Art of Japanese Fine Dining
Getting to know omakase and
by Patricia Lau
Ceres Solutions: Making mushrooms out of mash by Elizabeth
Build Your Own Bento Box
Creating a beautiful bento for your lunch or picnic
Japan’s most famous beverage is gaining ground Sake is becoming mainstream and more widely available by Adrianne
Step by Step:
Galettes Bretonnes – the classic French brunch dish by Renée
28 Find Your Festival in 2023: Part Two
Some of the major beverage festivals in the second half of the year by David
32 Hopping for Chocolate
Is your chocolate rabbit Easter bunny approved? by Erika
36 March Spirits
...as we impatiently wait for spring by Tom Firth and Linda Garson
March 2023 | Culinaire 3
It’s been a while…
It always feels such a long time since we chatted after our January/ February double issue.
You’ll be aware by now of the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA)’s first update to drinking guidelines in 11 years, reducing the amount of alcohol that's considered safe. Of course, we were surprised by the newer, lower recommendations, and our take on it is that moderation is best, or to drink less but better - the best quality you can afford, and choosing local wherever possible.
For the last five years, our March issue has had an Italian theme, and after writing about the ingredients and dishes, restaurants, wines, and spirits for so long, we felt it was time to switch it up and take a deeper dive into another
popular, yet maybe a little less wellknown and understood, cuisine. So this month, we’re heading much further east, and focusing on the culture and traditions of Japanese gastronomy. We have such a wealth of excellent Japanese chefs and restaurants in our province now, as well as readily available, authentic food and beverage products, that there’s no shortage of stories to tell you. I hope you enjoy them!
We love to hear from you, it helps us know what we’re doing right and where we can improve. The message below makes the long hours worthwhile. Keep the feedback coming – criticisms or compliments!
“Hello Linda, We pick up your magazine regularly, and I must write to let you know how much we enjoyed the Jan/Feb 2023 issue.
We cooked the garlicky fried rice with peas (p.16) and it was excellent! Such a great side dish, or standalone dish, to have in your repertoire.
We also ordered from GR8 Thai Sauce (p.38) as we have been unsuccessful at finding a really great Thai Sauce. Well, we tried the green curry and, I must say, it was delicious. The ingredient list is small, fresh and real, and the taste was truly a sensation!
Thank you for supporting local business and highlighting them in your magazine. Regards, Glenna”
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Skip the delivery fees – make pizza like a pro. Grocery. Bakery. Deli. Café. EDMONTON | CALGARY | SHERWOOD PARK
Alberta / Food & Drink / Recipes
Tom Firth email@example.com
Keane Straub firstname.lastname@example.org
Tara Zenon 403-472-1345 email@example.com
Kendra Design Inc
Natalie Findlay, Patricia Lau
Adrianne Lovric, Dong Kim
Renée Kohlman, David Nuttall
Erika Ravnsborg, Keane Straub
To read about our talented team of contributors, please visit us online at culinairemagazine.ca
Patricia loves to seek out delicious food experiences locally and beyond, wherever her travels take her. Her passion for culinary adventures has resulted in many foodcations to Japan, Europe, as well as coast to coast across North America. In her home city, she keeps close tabs on Calgary’s dining scene and is often eating out and sharing her food adventures on various social media platforms. Find her on Instagram @miss_foodie.
Adrianne is a communications professional who has spent the last 20 years creating content for print media, non-profits, creative agencies, start-ups and publicly traded companies. Fuelled by caffeine and curiosity, she always says yes to dark roast and opportunities for new adventures. Adrianne lives in Calgary with her husband, Miroslav, and their two daughters.
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Erika is a freelance writer who has been writing ever since she was a child. Her love of storytelling is fuelled by her love of adventure. Always ready to inform the world of the best things that are happening whether it is a new restaurant opening, a new dish to try, or the best hidden gems in local communities, she will be happy to tell you all about it.
Culinaire Magazine acknowledges that we live, work and play on the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai, Piikani), the Tsuut'ina, the Îyâxe Nakoda Nations, the Métis Nation (Region 3), and all people who make their home in the Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta.
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Congratulations to SAIT graduate Korae Notveitt, who took Gold in Cooking at the Special Edition WorldSkills competition 2022, and now awarded the Best of Nations Medal for winning the highest medal on the team, highest score, and demonstrating extraordinary commitment to training and achievement throughout the contest.
And to Fresh & Local Market + Kitchens, whose market vendors won an unprecedented 67 awards - including 37 Platinum and 15 Gold - from Calgary Community Votes (up from 22 awards last year!) calgary.communityvotes.com
Manchester Square is home to Edmonton’s new Rhubarb Cafe & Cocktails. Specialty craft cocktails are the star here, along with coffee and café drinks, and a daily selection of beautiful pastries, soups from A Cappella Catering, bread with a selection of oils and vinegars for dipping, and plenty more tasty options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 12020 107 Avenue NW, rhubarbcafecocktails.com
Not only takeout and food truck Calgary’s Mumbai Bites now has a bricks and mortar location in Inglewood’s ex-Gorilla Whale space. Hats off to Mumbaikars, co-owners Resham Singh and chef Mayur Kunte, for making their progressive Indian and Hakka cuisine more accessible to their fans (us!). As well as dishes you’ll recognise, we’d recommend trying something different, such as vegan Ragda Pattice (crispy potato cakes topped with white pea curry and chutneys); complex and rich, veggie Manchow Soup; and the spicy chicken or veg Triple Szhezwan Rice (rice AND noodles with Szechwan gravy and an omelette garnish!). Indulge in the fun and clever cocktails with Indian ingredients too! 1214C 9 Avenue SE, mumbaibites.ca
Edmonton has a new gourmet dining option in Glenora. From the team that brought us the popular Sofra Turkish Restaurant & Wine Cellar, Zula Kitchen Wine Bar is set to follow suit, with modern Mediterranean-themed lunch and dinner menus, and a vast selection of wines by grape and region. We’re coming to share the mixed appetizer platter of eggplant, halloumi, fig-stuffed pastrami, stuffed apricots, seared scallops, and grilled shrimp! 14055 West Block Drive NW, zulakitchenandwinebar.com
The refurbished Delta Hotel, Calgary Airport, has a new restaurant! Codo Agave Social House’s menu is a modern take on farm to table, and includes dual Executive Chef Eric Beaupre’s (of the Airport Marriott too!) beautifully executed comfort food dishes, including beer-battered fish & chips, steak frites, and foraged mushroom pasta, but don’t miss the tapas on the sharing menuTequila Lime Chicken Tacos, Local Artisan Charcuterie Platter, and Shrimp Aguachile are all noteworthy, as are Justin Beachell’s expert tequila cocktails! And there’s free parking… 2001 Airport Road NE, codoagave.com
Edmonton’s new French Toast restaurant is a family-owned community project celebrating French cuisine and culture. They’re sourcing their breakfast and lunch ingredients from local producers, and offering as a buffet or a la carte – and there’s a lovely ‘menu pour enfants’ too. Bon appetit! 8937 82nd Avenue NW, frenchtoastyeg.com
New Camp Table & Bar has reopened after a flood forced a temporary closure. In Calgary’s Signal Hill, it was the site of Sarcee Camp, one of Canada’s largest military camps, where 50,000 WWI soldiers trained.
Restaurateur Tony Nicastro (whose last name means ‘new camp’!), of Villa Firenze and PZA Parlour, has taken this opportunity to reinvent the menu, with Chef Cody Draper leading the kitchen, and reintroduce the welcoming Frank Architecture, retro-style, beige and brown interior. The food is casual, with very generous portions (do try the excellent Mojo Pork Cubano!), 20 beers on tap, and great happy hour features. 1851 Sirocco Drive SW, new-camp.ca
Edmonton’s new Chi & Em Asian Bistro is getting rave reviews for their terrific value, Vietnam-meets-Japan, delicious and nutritious menu. There’s a wide choice of noodles and sushi, and look for signature dishes of beef carpaccio in tamarind sauce, pork and noodles in coconut cream, beef short rib pho, Vietnamese egg coffee, and avocado ice cream! 10542 82 Avenue NW, chiandem.com
From the Himalayas to the Rockies! Father and daughter, Dinesh and Jhoti Raturi, are from Uttarakhand in the north of India, and they describe their Indian Ocean restaurant in Calgary as a uniquely delicious experience. After trying their classics as well as new kitchen adventures, we’re inclined to agree! Serving up honest dishes using fresh and natural ingredients, they’re cooked individually as you order. Enjoy mango lassi with homemade yogurt, meltingly tender lamb vindaloo, Khatta Meetha Baingan (mini eggplant cooked in honey, lemon, and tomato), mint roti, and signature Mango-Chicken Curry. It’s
6 Culinaire | March 2023
SALUTES & SHOUT OUTS
all terrific value - and impossible to leave without leftovers! 2102 Glenmore Court SE, indianoceancalgary.ca
Slow Pour is Edmonton’s new beer bar, on a mission to offer a constantly changing selection of world beers “from everywhere for everyone.” Beer, and the conversations you have over a pint, are key here – with candle-lit tables, no TV screens, and a small snack menu. Try the super-garlicky bruschetta! 10416 122 Street, slowpouryeg.com
4.2.4 Bar. Kitchen. Social is open in Calgary’s Mount Pleasant as a community social hub - kiddies are welcome and can even play video games on the TV screens. Owners, Jeff and Stephanie Johnson, have added a fireplace in the restaurant side, taken out the VLTs to make a 12-person event space, and brought in Chef Zwandri (of The Rock restaurant) to create a hearty pub fare menu, with an onion ring tower, both deep-pan and thin crust pizzas, meaty and veggie burgers, dessert fries and open-faced s'mores topped with a bacon-chocolate sauce!
Watch for specials and trivia nights. 2411 4 Street NW, 424yyc.com
Edmonton’s Pho and Bun have opened Banh Mi Day, family-owned and serving authentic, regional Vietnamese food. There are plenty of options for meat-eaters and vegetarians, and also vegan pho, rice and noodle dishes, and banh mi. 11765 Jasper Avenue, banhmiday.ca
Milpa is a brand new Calgary restaurant and cocktail bar by thirdgeneration chef, Elia Herrera, from Veracruz, Mexico. A contestant on Top Chef (Canada and Mexico), Herrera’s small plates dishes are authentic and memorable (try papas bravas and lamb mixiote), and the Tres Leches dessert with gummy cacti is genius – as are Bar Manager, John Fairholm’s (with GM Franz Swinton) stunning cocktails (mezcal-based Cataluña 75 is topped with a Ritz cracker and spray cheese!). Bold Architecture’s design is striking, with subtly lit, sea-coloured arches and sandcoloured walls, tables for two on one side, and a large central bar focused primarily
on Central American spirits with a few local beers. Plenty of gluten-free and veggie options too. Unmissable.
1531 5 Street SW, milpa.ca
Opening new locations!
Mhairi O’Donnell has opened Varbar in Calgary’s Killarney neighbourhood. A sister restaurant to little Bridgeland champagne and fondue spot, Moonlight and Eli, Varbar (after Vah-Ree, the pronunciation of Mhairi) is even smaller, seating just 10-15 people – ideal for small group celebrations! 2915 Richmond Road SW, moonlightandeli.com
A second location for Native Tongues! A Calgary Mexican favourite since 2015, Thank you Hospitality has swapped its A1 Cantina spot in Britannia Plaza for a second Native Tongues Taqueria with the same much-loved menu, mezcal bar program, and rustic vibe. No reservations. 829 49 Avenue SW, nativetongues.ca
Marda Loop is home to Diner Deluxe’s third Calgary location. In addition to Renfrew, Mahogany, and Gyro Beach in Kelowna, now you can get your comfortfood breakfast, lunch, and brunch fix at the new European café-styled location at 2252 33 Avenue SW. No reservations. dinerdeluxe.com
Do you have a notable achievement we should know about? A new opening, launch, rebrand, or accolade? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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BOOK REVIEWS BY LINDA GARSON
Japanese Cookbook Roundup
The Complete Guide to Japanese Drinks
With the premise that you don’t need to go to Japan to enjoy Japan’s drinking culture, Lyman and Bunting take us through the traditions, history, and production methods, of Japanese drinks in a chatty style, making it easy for us to understand. Part 1 focuses on the native Japanese traditions of sake, shochu, awamori, and umeshu, while Part 2 dives into the Western alcohol traditions in Japan: whisky, beer, wine, and cocktails – a fascinating read! By Stephen Lyman and Chris Bunting, Tuttle Publishing $24.
Otsumami: Japanese Small Bites and Appetizers
Otsumami is my sort of food: “nibbles you have while drinking”, and Ikeda’s book is full of recipes I’ve earmarked. Some dishes I’ve enjoyed in Japanese restaurants here, such as Sake-steamed Clams (p.118) and Smacked Cucumbers (p.133) and can’t wait to try my hand at. There are traditional Japanese snacks like Yakitori (p.77) and Okomiyaki (savoury filled pancakes, p.162), while fusion recipes like Kimchi and Blue Cheese Gyoza Pizzas (p.53) are calling my name! By Atsuko Ikeda, Ryland, Peters & Small $38.
Befitting its name, this book really does contain everything you’ll need to know to create your own good looking and good tasting bento boxes. From learning about types of boxes, to tips on packing and food safety, ingredients and shopping, as well as decorations that add a touch of kawaii – cuteness - (try cheese pandas, p.40) and recipes for a mix of classic and modern Japanese dishes – lunchtimes and picnics just got a whole lot better!
By Marc Matsumoto and Maki Ogawa, Tuttle Publishing $25.
Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake
This truly is a “paddy to glass” journey of sake, from its beginnings to the growing international scene (just the 28-page sake primer would be worth buying this book for). Yet it’s so much more – a book of stories from the authors’ visits to Japan, and interviews with brewers, farmers, and bar-owners (including a chapter on women master brewers) and surprisingly, cherished family recipes from brewing families. One for everyone to enjoy. By Nancy Matsumoto and Michael Tremblay, Tuttle Publishing $25.
Japanese Pickled Vegetables:
129 Homestyle Recipes for Traditional Brined, Vinegared and Fermented Pickles – and that’s exactly what this book is, with easy to follow recipes and sharp colour photographs of every dish. Chapter 1 covers the basics with recipes grouped by ingredient: picked onions, ginger, cabbage etc., and Chapter 2 covers traditional regional Japanese pickles, but our fave is Chapter 3: Instant pickles by season with some terrific celery, eggplant, and melon recipes here. Pickle like a pro! By Machiko Tateno, Tuttle Publishing $23.
Japanese Cooking with Manga
Just as it sounds, this recipe book is handwritten with drawings in the mangastyle of cartoons and comics – and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much reading a cookbook! If you’ve eaten in Japanese restaurants, then you’ll recognize most of these dishes: Miso Soup, Sunomono, and certainly sushi, although some, like Sardine Meatballs (p.99) and Black Sesame Flan (p.120), I’ve yet to get to know. A hip, fun, and delicious romp through Japanese recipes. By the Gourmand Gohan team, Tuttle Publishing $20.
8 Culinaire | March 2023
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Okawari kudasai: More food, please!
When the topic of Japanese cuisine is broached, most minds turn to sushi, and to an extent, rice. But as we discovered from speaking with Japanese Consul General Takahiko Watabe, “Japanese cuisine, Washoku, is deeply-rooted in the culture of Japanese people.” The Japanese kanji characters forming the word 和 (wa), meaning Japanese, or harmony, and 食 (shoku), meaning food or to eat, translate to the harmonious nature of Japanese cuisine.
As a result of Buddhism, eating meat was prohibited in Japan from about 650 – 1870 AD, but fish and dairy products were permitted. “The uniqueness of Japan’s food culture is formed by many dishes flavoured with dashi broth made from bonito and kombu kelp, as well as fermented foods such as soy sauce, natto, and miso,” Consul General Watabe explains.
A country deeply rooted in tradition, Japan also sees value in embracing other cultures, and adapting them. Several dishes and techniques can be historically traced to China, which brought both miso and ramen to Japan. Contact with India introduced curries. In the 16th century, Portuguese missionaries brought with them a fritter-style cooking that evolved into the popular Japanese tempura. The coexistence of tradition and innovation can be seen in the restaurants found across Japan – many serve French or Chinese cuisine – and in everyday meals, too.
For Kevin Kent, founder and CEO of Knifewear, a traditional Japanese breakfast is one he longs for: “A typical hotel breakfast is miso soup, grilled fish, vegetables cooked in dashi, umeboshi and served with one or two extra dishes, tea and coffee, always makes jetlagged me smile.”
At the same time Consul General Watabe points out the divergence from tradition. “It has become more common
to see many people enjoying a more English-inspired breakfast such as toast with egg, or smoothies for breakfast.” Meals later in the day often lean into Western culture, with many people enjoying burgers, pasta, and steak for lunch or dinner, too.
But food is more than just daily nutrition. It is significant during festivals and gatherings, and in day-to-day life, too. Omiyage, literally ‘souvenir’, is a gift that is purchased during a trip that you then give to friends and family upon your return, and it is usually edible.
Kent, who has traveled to Japan many times, and experienced both culture and cuisine in a variety of settings, loves the tradition. “Every region of Japan has local food specialties and if you want to bring a gift to someone, this is what you grab,” he explains. “My favourite omiyage from Kyoto is either traditional Japanese pickles from Nishiki market or yatsuhashi – mochi wrappers folded around flavoured bean pastes.”
The kind of festival will determine the food served. “Foods like ozōni soup
and osechi-ryori are found at New Year festivals, rice cakes wrapped in bamboo leaves are traditional for Children’s Day, and eel is eaten on the hottest day of the year for energy,” says Consul General Watabe.
For Hinamatsuri, ‘Doll’s day’ or ‘Girl’s Day’, celebrated every March 3rd, chirashi-zushi – ‘scattered sushi’ – is served. While this is often eaten at other times of the year, when prepared for Girl’s Day, it uses shrimp (to wish for a long, healthy life until the girls grow old with curved backs, like the shrimp have), beans (so that girls will have the health to grow up and work diligently), and lotus root (the holes in the lotus root, which can be seen through, signify the hope that girls will be able to see luck in their future).
It is a cuisine also known for its visual appeal. “One does not only eat Japanese food, but also enjoys its presentation and assortment of colours,” Consul General Watabe adds. “Much like any other form of art, one can find value in its beauty.”
10 Culinaire | March 2023 CHEF’S TIPS & TRICKS
Chirashi-zushi, Doll's Day dish.
Photo by Linda Garson
Behind a vintage Coke machine in Calgary’s Sho Sushi you will find Ajito, an izakaya, or informal Japanese bar. Here you’ll find signature cocktails and beautifully executed dishes, the latter courtesy Head Chef Taira.
To become an expert in sushi, one must show devotion and patience to master the numerous skills required. “Becoming an adept sushi chef is a reflection of one’s character to being a dedicated and persistent person,” says Chef Taira. Curiosity and a willingness to try new things are also important, he adds, and his hope is for his guests to appreciate sushi as much as he does. “The dishes I create are often replicated versions of things I find most enjoyable but with my own splash of creativity.”
Kuruma ebi sushi, or tiger prawn, is Chef Taira’s favourite for two reasons: firstly, the shrimp originates from his
home town Kumamoto, in Japan, and he is reminded of home whenever he eats it. Second is its sweet flavour, the result of simply boiling the prawn. “Simplicity is sometimes best, and the most delicious things do not always have to be complicated dishes.”
He shares his recipe for Chawanmushi made with dashi (clear soup). Dashi serves as a foundation for many Japanese dishes, and a fitting place to start practising. The ingredients are also easily sourced. “With such accessibility and ease of preparation, dashi soup can conveniently become a healthy and enjoyable addition to anyone’s everyday meals.”
Makes 2 cups (500 mL) broth
3¾ cups (900 mL) water
15 g kelp
25 g bonito
To taste light soy sauce
1. In a large pot, add water and kelp.
2. Heat water to 60º C, and cook for 60 minutes. Remove kelp from water.
3. Increase heat to 100º C, add bonito flakes and bring to boil. Turn heat off and remove from stove.
4. Strain and discard solids.
5. If dashi is being served alone add light soy sauce to taste. Do not add to continue with recipe below.
Makes 2 cups (500 mL) broth
4 large eggs
2 cups (500 mL) dashi
½ Tbs (12 mL) mirin
5 tsp (25 mL) light soy sauce
½ pack shimeiji mushroom
4 cups (1 L) water
17 g kelp
28 g bonito
1. Prepare dashi broth as above.
2. In a bowl, crack and beat eggs. Use a sieve to strain eggs so that they are smooth.
3. In a separate bowl mix dashi, mirin, soy sauce, and eggs together.
4. Clean and cut shrimp and mushrooms into small pieces and place into teacups (chawanmushi cups) or ramekins.
5. Fill each with ¾ cup (180 mL) dashi mixture.
6. In a steamer, bring water to a boil, and place cups into steamer. Steam for 6 minutes. Adjust to low heat and steam for an additional 20 minutes.
7. Remove cups from steamer, garnish with kelp and bonito flakes, and serve immediately.
March 2023 | Culinaire 11
It’s safe to say that Chef Ron Elmaleh of Sherwood Park’s Kobachi takes his inspiration from his environment. Growing up, his family, especially his father, had a huge influence on his cooking. “I didn’t notice until I left home, but my family does not take shortcuts when it comes to cooking.” More recently, Chef Ron says he is inspired by minimalism. “If anything, the pandemic has taught me to cook simply with what I have and not depend on exotic or rare items from Japan.”
Playing with seasonal vegetables and authentic flavours helps keep Kobachi’s menu exciting, but simplicity is at the heart of all the dishes, especially the Kobachi Set: “It’s three simple small plates that capture the variety of Japanese flavours.”
For those looking to venture into
Japanese cooking, Chef Ron suggests having mentsuyu on hand. “It’s a very versatile condiment to have at home from eating noodles with it, making dressings, and even stewing.” At Kobachi it’s made with sugar, salt, vinegar, mirin, and soy sauce – if you’re making it at home, you can adjust any of these depending on the flavour you are trying to achieve.
Ochazuke (‘marinated in tea’) is a comforting, filling dish, and one that can use up leftovers in the fridge. The recipe that Chef Ron shares here is a simplified version of what is sometimes served at Kobachi. “This is a very simple dish but if there’s one thing to point out it would be to pour the broth on the rice rather than the toppings. This way when enjoying it you can enjoy different flavours rather than a watered-down version of the flavour.”
Salmon Miso Chazuke
100 g salmon
2 Tbs (30 mL) miso
1 Tbs (15 mL) soy sauce
1 Tbs (15 mL) mirin
1 Tbs (15 mL) sake
160 g cooked medium grain Japanesestyle rice, warm
4 sheets seasoned and roasted seaweed
2 tsp melted butter
1 scallion, sliced or micro greens
To taste salt
¼ cup + 3 Tbs (100 mL) water
½ Tbs (12 mL) soy sauce
½ Tbs (12 mL) mirin
Small piece of kelp
1. Salt the salmon lightly and leave for 5 minutes before wiping off salt.
2. Mix together miso, soy sauce, mirin, and sake, to make a marinade and marinate salmon for at least an hour to overnight.
3. Wipe off marinade and cut salmon into six cubes. Heat a little vegetable oil in a pan and cook salmon briefly until the outer is browned or until the internal temperature is 50º C.
4. Place broth ingredients in a small pan and warm to a light simmer.
5. Share warm rice, seaweed sheets, butter, cooked salmon, and the greens between two plates. Pour the broth around the rice, season to taste, and enjoy while warm.
12 Culinaire | March 2023
For Alan Yau of Calgary’s Y93 Sushi Crave, cooking equates to happiness. “I grew up with Japanese comics and cartoons – my absolute faves,” Chef Yau explains. “And they taught me the happiness of cooking!”
As a Japanese Café or Kissaten (tea or coffee shop), Y93’s menu is extensive, but Chef Yau names sushi as his favourite. While the ingredients are simple, each piece takes incredible skill to create. “I think that’s why I love creating sushi. You can see the dedication and craft in just the way the rice is cooked. Sometimes the most complicated art is the one that looks most simple.”
But don’t let the idea of complicated art discourage you from trying your hand at Japanese cuisine. Focus instead on the ingredients: “It’s important to not over season, especially soy sauce or spicy mayo. Try to taste the flavour of the ingredient itself.”
In Japanese households, Hambāgu is a popular, versatile, and easy-to-make dish. A single-served meatloaf glazed with a sweet and savoury sauce, it goes well with salads, rice, and even pasta. Every Japanese home chef (aka ‘Mom’) has their own recipe. “Sometimes mom will “hide” chopped vegetables in the patty to trick their picky eating child. This also creates a unique ‘taste memory’ for their family.” And when it comes to tips on making it, there’s only one: “Remember to toss the patty! It binds the meat together creating a more tender and juicier patty.”
Hambāgu (Japanese Hamburger Steak)
500 g ground beef
500 g ground pork
2 tsp salt
5 g powdered gelatin
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp hondashi (Japanese fish stock)
2 tsp (10 mL) soy sauce
2 large eggs
1 large onion, chopped
½ cup (120 mL) milk
Drizzle vegetable oil
½ cup (120 mL) dry red wine
1 cup (240 mL) water
2 cups (500 mL) ketchup
2 cups (500 mL) tonkatsu sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Hondashi (Japanese fish stock)
1 Daikon (Japanese radish), grated for
garnish – optional
4 green onions, chopped for garnish –optional
1. Mix all patty ingredients together in a bowl.
2. Portion into 100 g pieces, and shape into a ball, tossing back and forth between both hands at least 10 times (like a ball). Flatten into 10 mm thick patties. Chill for 1 hour.
3. Pan-fry patties for 2 minutes each side over medium heat, then add ½ cup (120 mL) water. Cover pan with a lid and cook for a further 5 minutes. Let rest.
4. For the sauce, add vegetable oil to pan and discard most of it to leave a lightly coated pan, add red wine, cook over medium heat for one minute.
5. Add all the other ingredients, and cook until boiling. Strain the sauce into a bowl.
6. Cut each patty into 2.5 cm pieces, place on a plate and drizzle sauce on top.
7. Finish with grated daikon along with some chopped green onion.
March 2023 | Culinaire 13
Edmonton’s Izakaya Tomo takes its name from owner and chef Tomoya Mutaguchi, and bringing the authentic izakaya experience to Alberta is his passion. “I used to love to go to Izakaya when I lived in Japan,” he explains. “I just want as many people as possible to know about Izakaya food.”
Izakaya have extensive menus, and dishes are meant to be enjoyed over the course of an evening, so for someone new to the izakaya experience it can be a bit intimidating. If you’re not sure, take direction from the Chef himself and order his favourite, the pork shoga
yaki (stir-fry pork and onions in ginger sauce).
For a family-style meal at home, Chef Tomoya shares a recipe for sukiyaki, served in the nabemono or Japanese hotpot style. With a more freestyle approach to cooking, he suggests not following the recipe – at least not exactly. “Change the balance of flavours depending on your ingredients, the weather, your guests’ preferences, even the atmosphere,” he says. But don’t skimp on the quality of ingredients. “Use good beef and good eggs,” he adds, “and cook your onions in beef fat. It makes them taste better.”
¾ cup + 1 Tbs (200 mL) sake
¾ cup + 1 Tbs (200 mL) mirin
¾ cup + 1 Tbs (200 mL) soy sauce
60 g sugar
1. Place sake and mirin in a saucepan, bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes.
2.Turn off the heat and add soy sauce and sugar, and heat until sugar is dissolved.
Then you can add your favourite ingredients. These items would regularly be included in Sukiyaki (all would be found in Asian supermarkets):
1 medium onion, sliced
2 tokyo negi (long green onions)
Drizzle vegetable oil
400 g beef, sliced thin
½ package firm tofu
1 package enoki mushroom, cut off the roots
8-10 shitake mushrooms, stems removed 1 pack shirataki noodles, cut in 10 cm pieces
1. Microwave sliced onion for 2 minutes.
2. Chop tokyo negi into small pieces and stir-fry in a drizzle of hot vegetable oil.
3. Take out the tokyo negi and briefly stir fry the slices of beef. Stir well and don't overcook.
4. Add sukiyaki soup broth with all the ingredients and bring to a boil.
5. Beat eggs until smooth and dip the ingredients into the raw egg before eating.
14 Culinaire | March 2023
Keane Straub has travelled from Tofino to Charlottetown, sampling the different flavours Canada offers. The passion people have for their craft and culture inspires Keane to tell their stories.
The Art of Japanese Fine Dining
As Japanese cuisine has gained popularity in Alberta over the past decade, we now have opportunities to explore and enjoy more elaborate forms of Japanese gastronomy beyond the quintessential sushi and ramen, with several restaurants offering exceptional multi-course fine-dining experiences in the form of omakase and kaiseki.
What is omakase?
One of the more popular offerings has been omakase (oh-MAH-kah-say), which is short for “omakase shimasu” - a Japanese phrase that means “I’ll leave it up to you, [chef].” An omakase dining experience is often compared to a chef’s tasting menu in Western cuisine, but where it differs is this traditional Japanese dining style is much more intimate as the diner entrusts the chef to decide on the best dishes to be served. Though an omakase experience can vary dramatically from restaurant to restaurant depending on the personal style of the chef, it is common for the experience to take place at the sushi counter where you will be seated face-to-face with the chef.
At the start of this dining experience, the chef will usually inquire about your personal preferences and tailor the meal
accordingly, using the best seasonal fish and freshest ingredients available. They will typically begin by serving some introductory seasonally inspired dishes before moving on to masterfully preparing each piece of sashimi and sushi to showcase the nuanced flavours and textures of the different fish. Traditionally, the lighter and more mild-flavoured fish are served first before gradually proceeding to the stronger flavoured and fattier ones. As omakase is all about ensuring you have the best dining experience, the chef will carefully gauge your reaction towards each course and adjust the subsequent ones accordingly.
There is more to this intimate dining experience than just entrusting the chef to take charge on your meal selection. Being seated at the sushi counter allows for more direct interaction with the chef; you
BY PATRICIA LAU
can observe each course being skillfully prepared while engaging in conversation with the chef to gain insight on the ingredients and learn about the origin of the fish, the way they are prepared, and the garnishes used to enhance the unique flavour of each.
Know that although omakase dining is often associated with sushi, it is not limited exclusively to raw fish with rice –some restaurants may offer omakase that incorporates other cooking methods, such as grilling or simmering.
How is omakase different from kaiseki?
Kaiseki (kay-ZEH-kee) is another form of Japanese fine dining. Outside Japan, omakase and kaiseki are often used incorrectly or interchangeably but they are completely different upscale dining
16 Culinaire | March 2023
AZITO Japanese Restaurant
formats. While both provide an incredibly delicious and memorable experience, in contrast to omakase, where the chef has creative freedom and flexibility to improvise and adjust mid-meal based on your reaction to each course, kaiseki is a formal, elaborate, multi-course meal with an emphasis on seasonality, and is considered one of the highest forms of Japanese cuisine.
There are two different styles of kaiseki in Japan – derived from the term chakaiseki or “tea” kaiseki – one is a simple light meal of soup and a few side dishes served at formal Japanese tea ceremonies, with origins that can be traced back to the 16th century; and the other having evolved over time from the original into a more formal and elaborate multi-course experience that is now often referred to as kaiseki-ryori or kaiseki for short. The focus of the meal is not only on the quality of the ingredients but also the aesthetics. Each course is small and carefully crafted to highlight the subtle and nuanced flavours as well as the delicate textures of the seasonal ingredients, and is presented in an elegant and artistic manner.
A traditional kaiseki meal is made up of nine courses but has evolved to include anywhere from six to 15 courses. They are usually presented in sequence, categorized by their method of cooking, with each dish representing one method. No dish or ingredient is repeated. You can expect a typical kaiseki experience to include: a small Sakizuke appetizer intended to stimulate the appetite and introduce the chef’s style, similar to the French amuse bouche; a selection of beautifully presented, bite-sized Hassun appetizers that establish the seasonal theme of the meal; a Suimono soup made with a dashi broth base to cleanse the palate; a seasonal Mukozuke or Otsukuri sashimi course; a Taki-awase or Nimono simmered dish
of vegetables served together with fish, meat or tofu; a Yakimono grilled dish with meat, fish, seafood or vegetables; an Agemono fried course such as tempura; a Mushimono steamed dish like chawanmushi (steamed egg custard) topped with seafood or fish eggs; a Gohan or Shokuji rice course that is often served with pickled vegetables and soup; and a Mizugashi or Mizumono dessert of fresh fruits or Japanese sweets. Not all dishes may be present as it is up to the chef’s discretion to include, omit, or substitute dishes depending on the season and the chef’s style.
When conceptualizing the courses, “the dishes are chosen to reflect the season,” says Koji Kobayashi, who has spent over a decade perfecting his craft at kaiseki restaurants in Osaka and is currently the head chef of Calgary’s Sukiyaki House. “The menu is different every month. More cold dishes are chosen for the summer. Hot soups like dobin mushi [a traditional Japanese pine mushroom soup that is steamed and served in a dobin tea pot] are common in the fall. And hotpots are served during the winter.”
Due to the premium seasonal ingredients used, the meticulous cooking techniques involved in the preparation of each course and the elaborate presentation methods, this luxurious gastronomic experience is famously expensive and perhaps even unapproachable in some cases.
To make kaiseki more accessible to a wider audience, some chefs have opted to reinterpret it into a more approachable format. One such evolution is the “kaiseki bento” which is a boxed meal that is based on the principles of kaiseki. This more casual version resembles the traditional multi-course meal but in a boxed lunch
format, you can expect to find a variety of small, beautifully presented dishes like raw fish, grilled items, simmered dishes, and pickled vegetables, that have been prepared using a combination of kaisekiinspired cooking methods.
Where to visit to experience these more elaborate forms of Japanese cuisine:
Kaiseki and Omakase: Sukiyaki House, 207 9 Avenue SW, Calgary
Kaiseki Bento and Omakase: Ryuko – Japanese Kitchen + Bar, 13200 Macleod Trail, Calgary
Omakase: AZITO Japanese Restaurant, 1105, 116 Grande Boulevard, Cochrane
Bincho Sushi & Izakaya, 2204 4 Street SW, Calgary
Japonais Bistro, 11806 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton
Kabuku, 414 3 Street SW and 2136, 10 Aspen Stone Boulevard SW, Calgary
NUPO, 631 Confluence Way SE, Calgary
Omakase Room by Vinh, 2120 103A Street, Edmonton
Sho Sushi Bar & Kitchen, 110, 7212 Macleod Trail SE, Calgary
Zushi, 12445 Lake Fraser Drive SE, Calgary
March 2023 | Culinaire 17
Patricia loves to seek out delicious food experiences locally and beyond, wherever her travels take her. She has been keeping close tabs on Calgary's restaurant scene and shares her dining adventures on social media.
Ceres Solutions: Making mushrooms out of mash
BY ELIZABETH CHORNEY-BOOTH
One of the hottest topics in food supply circles right now is the question of what to do with the vast amount of food waste Canadians produce each year. While the waste that comes from overly ambitious vegetable purchases at home and leftover ingredients at restaurants is one thing, the massive amount of by-products from food and beverage production is also a huge part of the food waste equation.
Here in Alberta, our never-ending supply of craft beer creates mountains of brewers’ spent grain — that is, the oatmeal-like mash that remains after the brewing process. Recognizing the wastefulness of simply dumping tonnes of organic material still full of useful protein and fibre, breweries in Alberta tend to send a lot of their by-products off to farmers as cattle feed, while others have tried making it into bread or pizza dough.
When Ceres Solutions’ founder, Alex Villeneuve, was studying brewing at Olds College in 2015, he saw another, less obvious but more innovative possibility for all that spent grain. He started using it to grow mushrooms.
“I’ve always been excited about mushrooms,” Villeneuve says. “I’ve always loved finding and identifying them on hikes and thought they were fascinating. I saw all the grain coming out of the craft brewing process at Olds College and being sent off to compost or to the dump and I thought, ‘Wow, this is the best grain in the entire world and we're not utilizing it’.”
Villeneuve, who is originally from Edmonton, also studied culinary arts at NAIT, knew that mushrooms could flourish in the spent grain and took to experimenting with growing fungus in Zip-Loc bags stashed in his dorm room closet. Through the Olds College Centre for Innovation, he connected with funding bodies that helped him to develop a unique system that involves transforming the spent grain into a nutrient-rich mushroom substrate, sterilizing it to make sure that
no competing fungi try to duke it out with his gourmet mushrooms, and then seeding it with a starter culture. The result is a hanging tube that sprouts a healthy crop of mushrooms, ready to be harvested and sold to local restaurants and markets.
“We’ve developed a system that does all of the major steps of mushroom processing in one automated vessel that requires very little input, and is really efficient in terms of square footage and utility usage,” Villeneuve says. “It’s much more efficient than existing or conventional methods.”
After spending several years longer than he intended at Olds College so he could focus on the project, a little over a year ago Villeneuve decided he was ready to take Ceres to the next level and moved his operation to a commercial demonstration
facility in Crossfield, where his tubes of mushroom substrate hang in a series of shipping containers. Originally, his circular system involved upcycling the grains a second time as a protein-heavy cattle feed after the mushrooms are harvested, but provincial regulations posed some complications, so that is on the backburner for now. The current model sees the used substrate being fed to worms and then used in farmland as an ultra-rich soil.
Now that Ceres Solutions’ home base is no longer at an institution with a renowned brewing program and a steady supply of brewer’s spent grains, Villeneuve sources his raw material from working craft breweries. A by-product removal service called aGRO Systems collects the grains from breweries in Calgary and
18 Culinaire | March 2023
Villeneuve picks up what he needs for his mushroom substrate. He notes that not all spent grains are created equally — the mushrooms thrive on a mix that consists of a particular size and type of grain that happens to match well with what urban breweries can supply.
“Different types of grains like oats or rye or wheat can affect the mushroom's growth,” Villeneuve says. “We like breweries that are efficient but not too efficient. The medium sized craft breweries have the kind of grain we look for.”
To keep up the sustainability factor, Ceres Solutions is also streamlining things by specializing in a single mushroom, namely the blue oyster mushroom, which is particularly coveted by restaurant chefs and keen home cooks. There are plans to grow new varieties as 2023 wears on, as well as an organic line of mushrooms that will have to be grown with a substrate other than that sourced from the spent grain.
The cycle of local grains begetting local beer begetting local mushrooms, and then either animal feed or soil that goes back into farmers’ fields to grow more plant-based food, is what gets Villeneuve most fired up, especially as we move into an era of soaring grocery prices and a continuing concern about the carbon footprint of transporting fresh produce from around the world to local stores. While mushrooms may not be the most substantial ingredient, they do add a lot of flair and flavour to any given dish and sourcing them locally from a sustainably
minded company gives customers an environmentally conscious and more affordable option.
“Healthy food should not be a luxury. With our system we’re trying to make mushrooms as affordable as possible and as accessible to as many people as possible,” Villeneuve says. “We can have more affordable food and we can create really great local jobs if more things are grown where they're consumed.”
Villeneuve doesn’t want to get ahead of himself, but if he can grow mushrooms in shipping containers in Crossfield, this system could also enable mushroom farmers in other parts of the country or around the world to do the same. While Ceres Solutions may one day help solve some global issues surrounding food supply, for now, Villeneuve says that because of the support of Olds College, government funding agencies, and the local breweries, his innovation has to be seen as uniquely Albertan.
“We wouldn't have been able to develop this if I hadn’t been at Olds College and if we didn't have the provincial and federal support early on,” he says. “Then the investors who came on to help build our facility had the same mission and the same values in mind. We were really fortunate to have started this in Alberta.”
Cookbook author and regular contributor to CBC Radio, Elizabeth is a Calgary-based freelance writer, who has been writing about music and food, and just about everything else for her entire adult life.
Ceres Solutions’ founder, Alex Villeneuve
Build Your Own Bento Box
The Japanese have made bento box meals into an art form. Combining nutritious foods, a variety of textures and flavours, as well as making it beautiful, and exciting to open up your lunch box again. And just in case you were wondering, yes, you can use the bento box style and fill with your favourite foods, Japanese or not.
Bento box ingredients are as varied as their containers. While many think of a bento box as the black and red lacquer tray we get at restaurants, the bento box is simply a visually appealing, home-packed or takeout meal, served in a container.
The bento is primarily a single-portion boxed meal of a carb, protein, and assortment of pickled, raw, and cooked vegetables. It is a convenient way to get balanced nutrition and a portable way to carry lunches or dinners.
A variety of flavours and textures make
for a great bento box. The tradition is to include five colours when planning your bento box. White, black (or brown or blue), green, red, and yellow (orange fits here too). A mix of cooked and raw foods. Pickled foods. And, of course, rice or noodles. This foundation means that you have a greater chance of incorporating a wider variety of flavours as well as nutrients, and making it more exciting than just another sandwich.
As you arrange each food in your bento box, use silicone cups, lettuce or cabbage leaves to separate the items. Make sure everything has cooled and your ingredients are packed so there is no movement during transport. Most bentos are designed to be eaten cold or at room temperature without reheating, so it is important to keep that in mind when choosing your components.
One item that must be eaten hot is
miso soup. Miso soup has three basic components: dashi (stock), miso (soybean paste) and additions like tofu. Although most of us have only experienced miso soup with tofu and wakame seaweed, you can add any number of ingredients to the basic miso soup. It is also quite easy to make.
Bento considerations for success:
• At what temperature will your bento be eaten?
• Where do the rice/noodles go? To the side or underneath everything?
• Do you want the flavours to touch or do you need dividers?
• Did you incorporate a mixture of textures and flavours?
• Did you make it pretty? This is kind of a bonus but it makes such a difference when you open it and your meal already looks delicious.
20 Culinaire | March 2023
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY NATALIE FINDLAY
100 g broccoli florets
2 Tbs sesame seeds
2 Tbs (30 mL) soy sauce
½ tsp sugar
¾ tsp (3 mL) mirin
1 tsp (5 mL) sake (optional)
1. Trim broccoli into bite size florets.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
3. Meanwhile, prepare a large bowl of cold water filled with ice cubes.
4. When water reaches a roaring boil, add the broccoli. Let cook for 1 minute. Remove broccoli and quickly submerge in ice bath. Once cool, lay broccoli on paper towel to remove the excess water.
5. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over low heat constantly moving the seeds. Pour sesame seeds into mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind or pulse the seeds.
6. In a small bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and sesame seeds and combine.
7. In a medium bowl, add broccoli and sauce and stir to combine. Can be served cold or at room temperature.
Japanese Chicken Cutlet (Katsu)
2 chicken thighs or breast
To taste salt and pepper
¼ cup rice flour
1 egg, beaten
½ cup panko
Oil for frying
1. Butterfly the chicken pieces to even out the thickness of the chicken (about 1½ cm thick).
2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
3. Place the flour, egg, and panko each in their own shallow plate.
4. One fillet at a time, coat with rice flour. Then coat with egg. Then coat with panko.
5. Heat oil in a frying pan. When hot, gently place the fillet in the oil making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Depending on the thickness of your chicken, fry approximately 2 minutes on
each side. Transfer to a tray lined with paper towel to remove any excess oil.
6. Cut chicken into 2.5 cm wide strips.
7. Let cool completely before adding to bento if taking for lunch. Serve immediately if having for dinner.
Serves 3 - 4
4 cups (1 L) water
1 piece kombu (dried kelp 10 cm x 10 cm)
1 cup dried bonito flakes, packed
4-5 Tbs (60-75 mL) miso
2 pieces dried wakame seaweed, trimmed to 1 cm pieces
3 cm x 9 cm soft tofu, 1½ cm cubes
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1. Add the water and kombu to a medium pot. Slowly bring up to but do not boil.
2. Right before the stock boils, remove the kombu or your stock will be bitter.
3. Add the dried bonito flakes to the pot and bring to a full boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 1 minute. Turn off the heat and allow the dried bonito flakes to simmer until they sink approximately 10 minutes. Strain stock through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth.
4. Add the stock back to the saucepan and simmer over low heat.
5. In a small bowl, add a ladle of stock and 1 Tbs at a time of miso. Whisk to
dissolve and return to the stock. Repeat until all the miso has been added.
6. Add tofu to the soup. Add the dried wakame seaweed. Add the green onion.
Green beans with Yuzu and Miso
½ tsp fresh ginger, peeled
1 tsp (5 mL) white miso
¾ tsp sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) yuzu, or fresh lemon juice
150 g green beans
1. Grate the ginger into a small bowl.
2. Add the miso, sugar, and yuzu to the bowl and stir to combine.
3. Bring water to boil in a medium pot filled ½ full.
4. Trim beans and cut into 1 cm pieces. When water is boiling, add beans. Let cook 1½ minutes. Strain and run under cold water to completely cool.
5. Add the beans to the bowl and toss to make sure all the beans are covered in the sauce.
March 2023 | Culinaire 21
Natalie is a freelance writer, photographer, and pastry chef. A graduate of Cordon Bleu’s pastry program, she manages her own business too to create custom-made cakes.
Japan’s most famous beverage is gaining ground
BY ADRIANNE LOVRIC
Gone are the days of one cheap bottle of sake on liquor store shelves. Sake is becoming mainstream and widely available throughout Alberta. There’s a lot to consider - recipes, packaging, funding, selling.
“People are attracted to sake and are buying more of it because of how easy it is. There are no rules, and sake lends itself to a much broader palate,” says Patrick Ellis, “sake samurai” and president of Blue Note Sake. Ellis pioneered the premium sake category in western Canada 27 years ago after living in Japan at a time when premium sake was just coming into its own. “It doesn’t matter what you bring home in your grocery bag — whether it is artichokes, asparagus, blue cheese, steak, white fish or salad — sake will pair with it because of the lower acidity and significantly increased levels of umami that just tie it all together.”
Stephen Bezan, sake sommelier, educator and purchasing manager at Sherbrooke Liquor agrees. “It’s a wonderful accompaniment to food,
compared to wine where you are dealing with higher acidity and tannins.”
People have overcome misconceptions and preconceived notions about sake and realized that
it’s not just a savoury, hot rice beverage served in a little cup, paired exclusively with Japanese food. There are many ways to explore sake as a beverage on its own served chilled in a wine glass,
22 Culinaire | March 2023
Courtesy Sherbrooke Liquor
Courtesy Daishichi Brewery Co
or paired with burgers or pizza. “Sake enhances flavours. It gives you a cleaner starting point and base when pairing, so it’s harder to go wrong. It’s a lot more forgiving than wine or beer and everything comes together in harmony,” says Bezan.
As far as temperature goes, there is a lot of potential in one bottle of sake. Experiment with different styles at different temperatures to experience different aromas: fruity, lighter, and fresher when chilled, and fuller with more cereal aromas when heated. “Try not to get focused on all the technicalities,” says Bezan. “It’s fun to learn if you’re interested, but enjoy the sake for what it is. See what you like because it varies from person to person.”
Although you might be tempted to compare sake to wine or a spirit, it is its own special category most closely resembling beer because of how it is brewed. Sake rice varietals are polished to a specific degree, and combined by a skilled brewmaster with water, yeast, and an enzyme called koji, in a complex multiple parallel fermentation process. This unique process has evolved over time as sake brewmasters’ palates have broadened, attitudes have changed, and rice polishing technology has
advanced. The sake brewing scene is fun and vibrant as younger generations of brewmasters develop new ideas and experiment with technology and methods, while still retaining sake’s traditional roots.
Masa Shiroki of Artisan Sakemaker Inc. has been importing sake for the last 20 years and producing his own small-batch Osake sake on Granville Island since 2007 using BC-grown rice. Sake was originally developed more than 2,000 years ago in Japan with the intention of complementing the local food by region. Shiroki has applied this same approach with Osake, so that it pairs well with locally produced sausages, cheeses, pastas and vegetables. “The new future of sake is, I would say, a cultural paradigm shift to develop another level of culinary experience. It is a collaboration between sake makers and consumers sharing information and contributing to a multicultural culinary scene. It is authenticity with innovation.”
Premium sake importers and co-founders of Calgary’s Sake Gami, Toshiki Uehara and Yasuhiro Washiyama echo this sentiment. “We’re so happy to see that the scene has changed so much,” says Uehara. “We have made an effort to bring in many varieties and styles of sake, and people are now realizing it doesn’t have to be enjoyed with only Japanese food.”
Many Albertans, especially over the last few years, have really embraced sake and are understanding its stylistic differences, which Uehara attributes to the evolving restaurant scene in Alberta. “We have worked to educate how sake pairs with different foods such as pizza and steak. We have educated non-Japanese chefs, restaurant owners and sommeliers to help them make great pairings and find the sake magic in Alberta,” adds Washiyama.
With an alcohol content around 12 to 16 percent, similar to wine, Uehara and Washiyama are witnessing more people enjoying a glass of sake instead of a glass of wine, or choosing sparkling sake over champagne for special occasions. A premium sake can run upwards of $40, but because sake offers a variety of serving temperature it can be enjoyed multiple ways with different characteristics coming through at each
Want to try sake? A good place to start is at a local restaurant that has a good sake list or at a craftfocused store that has a good array of refrigerated sake bottles. Don’t be afraid to ask staff for advice. Online resources such as tippsysake.com or the Sake Revolution podcast are also a great way to learn about sake.
courtesy Stephen Bezan:
JUNMAI - essentially means "pure rice" and is meant to denote styles of premium sake that are brewed with only rice, water, koji, and yeast. A straight Junmai sake (meaning not a Junmai Ginjo or Junmai Daiginjo) tends to be full bodied and powerful with notes of rice.
JUNMAI GINJO - Premium grade sake using rice with the outer layers milled down to at least 60 percent remaining. A great intro sake for those just getting into the premium stuff! Good balance of umami, rice/ grain notes, and fruity elements.
JUNMAI DAIGINJO - Premium grade sake using rice milled down to at least 50 percent remaining - the top of the line super premium style. Typically, very delicate, nuanced, and fragrant. Can sometimes be expensive.
HONJOZO - Premium grade sake using rice milled down to at least 70 percent. However, there is a small portion of Brewer's Alcohol (usually a distilled grain alcohol) added to Honjozo, so it does not have the Junmai prefix. Usually light-bodied, fragrant, and a very versatile and approachable sake.
March 2023 | Culinaire 23
temperature change and enhancing whatever food it is paired with. “Sake is like a best supporting actor in a movie. Sake is always there, it is not the main actor but without it, the food that you are tasting wouldn’t be the same for many types of cuisines,” says Uehara.
Calgary’s Sensei Bar opened in 2021 with a goal of showcasing sake’s versatility and ability to pair with robust Asian and European flavours. “There is a Japanese saying that sake doesn’t fight with food,” says Amane Kanai, Sensei
Bar managing partner and international sake sommelier. There are roughly 40 sakes on the Sensei Bar menu, with rare sakes sometimes making an appearance. Industry professionals and consumers are discovering that premium sake is delicate, floral, and complex. It’s essentially umami in a glass. “What makes sake food-friendly is the lower acidity, lack of tannins and sulfites, and it’s full of amino acids. Umami-driven food paired with sake, creates an umami explosion in your mouth,” says Kanai.
If sake is still too intimidating, Kanai suggests trying fruit-flavoured sake as an easy way to step into the sake world. Although it’s not entirely traditional, it can make a nice aperitif and provides an accessible way to try the drink.
Kanai also offers Sake 101 courses at Sensei Bar. The Ninja package is an introductory course more focused on sake with lower polishing rates, while the Samurai package focuses on higher polished sakes, that have more delicate and complex fruity aromas. “People love these classes. It’s nice for me to engage and provide a sake experience and have
Adrianne Lovric is a communications professional who has spent the last 20 years creating content for print media, non-profits, creative agencies, start-ups and publicly traded companies. Adrianne lives in Calgary with her husband, Miroslav, and their two daughters.
Our 9th Annual Culinaire Calgary
Everyone has gone home a winner at our Culinaire Treasure Hunts and Taste Tours; they’ve been so popular that the spots sell out every year, so now we’ve planned a new and exciting “Simply the West!” World Taste
Tour with new treats to enjoy. And it’s all in one location – just park up and walk, no driving across town!
You’ll answer questions to learn and enjoy different foods at each stop, and use your new knowledge and skill to complete the Simply the West! culinary puzzle to win fabulous prizes! And there are prizes for the best costumes,
is Saturday April 29!
the funniest team names, the funniest photos on social media... and lots more!
It’s another very fun and rewarding day, so grab a partner and sign up as a team of two, or sign up solo at culinairemagazine.ca/treasure-hunt.
Registration is now openSaturday April 29, 2023!
It’s going to be another day to remember!
fun. My goal is to educate customers, so they get to learn to appreciate sake and my culture.”
Courtesy Sherbrooke Liquor
1316 9th Avenue SE 403-514-0577
10816 Whyte Avenue 587-521-2034 knifewear.com @knifewear * FREE SHIPPING FOR ORDERS OVER $100 Handmade Japanese Knives • Unique Cookware • Traditional Sharpening Services Handmade Japanese Knives • Unique Cookware • Traditional Sharpening Services
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY RENÉE KOHLMAN
My first taste of a Galette Bretonne was in a small cafe in Montreal. I was traveling alone, visiting friends in my favourite city, and on the last day of my stay I wanted a quick bite before heading off to the airport.
I’m no stranger to crêpes, having been making them myself since I was a young adult, but I remember letting out an audible swoon as the plate of Galettes Bretonnes was placed before me. Charmed by the four corners neatly tucked in, with
just the golden orb of the egg peeking out, the thin buckwheat crepe had a rustic earthiness that complemented the sweet nuttiness of the Gruyère and saltiness of the thinly shaved ham. I tucked in with my knife and fork at hand, taking great
26 Culinaire | March 2023
STEP BY STEP
pleasure in bursting the yolk, watching the yellow sunshine slowly snake onto the ham and cheese.
This savoury recipe originated in Brittany, France, and is a true celebration of classic French brunch (or dinner) showcasing crêpes, eggs, Gruyère, and ham. The crêpes are traditionally made with buckwheat flour, which is naturally gluten-free. Without the elasticity of gluten, the batter can be difficult to work with, so I added some all-purpose as well, with terrific results. The buckwheat adds an earthy, almost mineral influence to the dish, while the addition of all-purpose flour makes the crêpes easy to flip and fold. The first crêpe out of the gate is usually a little misshapen, but that’s okay, you now have a snack to nibble on while you make the remaining thin pancakes.
Before the crêpes are wrapped around shredded cheese, thinly shaved ham, and sunny eggs, they are called Crêpes Bretonnes. Once they’re filled, they’re now known as Galettes Bretonnes.
Assembling the affair is simplified by having two skillets going at once - one to cook the eggs, and the other to warm the crêpe, cheese, and ham, ensuring the underside is golden and crispy. I added some roasted mushrooms to the plate, as I’m a fan of the fungi and I had some in the refrigerator that needed tending to. This is purely optional, but I think the dish was better for it.
Of course, you can eat the crêpes with sweet things too. Berries, whipped cream, you name it. I’m sure the French won’t mind.
Serves 4 with leftover crêpes for another day
¾ cup plus 3 Tbs buckwheat flour (light or dark)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ tsp salt
1 large egg
1¼ cups (300 mL) whole milk
1 1/3 cup (325 mL) water
Butter, for cooking crepes
Filling: 4 eggs
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
4 slices thinly sliced ham
1 cup sautéed or roasted mushrooms
1 Tbs chopped green onion
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the buckwheat flour, all-purpose flour, and salt. Crack the egg into a small dish then add this to the flour mixture along with the milk and water. Whisk until thoroughly combined and slightly aerated. Small bubbles will initially form on the surface when the batter is left to stand. At this point, you could refrigerate the batter for up to one day, or overnight. Bring it to room temperature for 20 minutes before frying the crêpes.
2. In a nonstick (25 cm) or well-seasoned crêpe pan, melt about 1 tsp of butter over medium heat. Add just enough batter to thinly coat the bottom of the pan, about a heaping 1/3 cup (or 90 mL), swirling to evenly cover. Return the pan to the
heat and let cook until the bottom is beginning to brown and the top looks dry, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
3. Use a spatula and carefully flip the crêpe over and cook the other side for about 30 seconds. Slide the crêpe onto a large plate. Continue cooking the crêpes until all the batter is used up. Be sure to melt butter in the pan each time.
4. Keep the cooked crêpes stacked and covered with a clean kitchen towel. This makes about 8-9 crêpes. Any leftover crêpes can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
5. To assemble the Galettes Bretonnes with cheese, ham, and eggs, I do the following: In a nonstick skillet, cook the eggs in a little butter until cooked to your desired doneness. Keep warm. In another skillet, warm a cooked crêpe over medium-low heat. Scatter shredded cheese on top of the crêpe, then top with a slice of ham. Cook until the bottom of the crêpe is browned and crisp and the cheese is melted, about 30 seconds. Slide the crêpe onto a plate and add a cooked egg on top of the ham. Fold the sides of the crêpe in, garnish with sautéed or roasted mushrooms and green onion. Repeat with the remaining crêpes and eggs/ ham/cheese.
Renée Kohlman is a busy food writer and recipe developer living in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Her second cookbook, ‘Vegetables: A Love Story” has just been published.
From Romeo & Juliet’s City the taste of love Visit us online at www.pasqua.it
Find Your Festival in 2023 Part 2
BY DAVID NUTTALL
We continue our preview of festivals in 2023 that highlight adult beverages with a focus on those events that should occur in the second half of the year. This is tempered with a disclaimer of sorts that not all events have set their dates, locations, and ticket prices at time of writing.
For those cases, 2022 information is provided as a guide, along with their website for all up-to-date information.
Taste of Edmonton
Sir Winston Churchill Square, Edmonton
Taste of Edmonton is eleven days of the best of the city’s culinary scene, along with beverages and live entertainment in the heart of downtown. Sample from over 30 food booths and a dozen food trucks. Admission is free with sampling tickets to purchase for food and beverages. tasteofedm.ca
A Taste of Calgary
Lot 6, 4 Avenue and 9 Street SW
As the city's most appetizing festival, Taste of Calgary has been around for over two decades. This year, they expand the event by an additional day, taking advantage of the holiday Monday. Here you can try global cuisine from an array of Calgary's unique restaurants along with beverages of all kinds. There is also live entertainment all five days and a marketplace.
Admission is free with sampling tickets selling for $1 each. Samples usually range from 2-6 tickets each. tasteofcalgary.com
Barley and Smoke: Grillin' For A Cure
Date TBD (August 27 in 2022),
Enmax Park, Calgary
Barley & Smoke: Grillin’ for a Cure is a fundraiser for children with cancer that pairs Calgary’s top chefs with local brew masters to create a delectable pairing of food and beer. Held outdoors along the
Elbow River, teams compete for the title of Best Beer, Best Ribs, Best Hand-Held, and Best Food and Beer Pairing, with attendees as the judges. Live musical acts and plenty of outdoor games keep the entertainment running all afternoon.
Tickets: TBD ($95 in 2022). barleysmoke.ca
Brewery and the Beast Calgary
location TBD (Stampede Park in 2022)
Originating in BC, Brewery and the Beast came to Calgary a few years ago as an all-inclusive event with the best collection of restaurants of any outdoor festival, highlighting cooking meat (including wild boar, beef, pork, bison, elk, rabbit, duck, lamb and more) over an open fire. Coupled with craft beers from a variety of local breweries, wine, cider and cocktails, this event is fast becoming Calgary's favourite summer culinary festival.
Tickets: TBD ($135-$230 in 2022).
28 Culinaire | March 2023
Registration for the 2023 ALBERTA BEVERAGE AWARDS OPENS APRIL 3RD Judging in July Results Published October culinairemagazine.ca/aba For more information, contact Tom Firth email@example.com Save the Date Mark the Calendars... and Get Ready
Great Canadian Beer Festival
September 8-9, Royal Athletic Park, Victoria, BC
Canada's best and biggest outdoor beer festival is hosted by the Victoria Beer Society and features 90+ Canadian craft breweries from coast to coast, On the calendar since 1993, it now brings in people from all over North America. What can be better than sampling craft beer while walking around on grass, listening to live music and enjoying food from local restaurants and caterers?
Tickets: TBD ($45 in 2022). gcbf.com
Banff Whisky Experience
Dates TBD (September 13-14 in 2019), location TBD (Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in 2019)
The Banff Whisky Experience has been on hiatus since 2019. It returns in the Fall of 2023 to celebrate all things whisky with a Grand Tasting Event and master classes taught by industry insiders and distillers. Hundreds of whiskies from all over the world are accompanied by delicious food, locally made craft cocktails, and unbeatable scenery.
Tickets: TBD ($129 in 2019). banffwhiskyexperience.com
Dates TBD (September 29-October 8 in 2022), various locations, Canmore Canmore Uncorked is a food and drink festival with a selection of events for everyone. Of note are the Wine and Spirits and the Craft Beer Festivals, which have
three separate sessions over the week.
Tickets: TBD ($69-$79 in 2022). uncorked.hubopolis.com
Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival Calgary
Dates TBD (October 14-15 in 2022)
BMO Centre, Stampede Park, Calgary
For over a quarter of a century RMWF has provided Albertans with wine, spirit, beer, and food samples in a relaxed atmosphere. As attendees use tickets for samples, they can try expensive products they might never see being offered elsewhere. Look for three sessions, including Saturday afternoon.
Tickets: TBD ($33-$41 in 2022). rockymountainwine.com/event/calgary/ event-details
Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival Edmonton
Dates TBD (November 4-5 in 2022)
Edmonton Convention Centre, Edmonton See Calgary above.
Tickets: TBD ($33-$41 in 2022). rockymountainwine.com/event/edmonton/ event-details
Cornucopia Wine And Food Celebration
Dates TBD (November 4-27 in 2022) various locations, Whistler, BC Cornucopia offers signature tastings, food and drink seminars, restaurant and bar events and more through most of November all around the resort and
town of Whistler.
Tickets: Free-$229 depending on event. whistlercornucopia.com
Banff Beer Festival
November 23-25, Cave and Basin, Banff
Probably Canada's only beer festival held in a National Historic Site, this three-day sampling event offers mostly beer, but also spirits and food from all over Alberta and BC.
Tickets: TBD ($20-30 in 2022). albertabeerfestivals.com/festivals/ banff-craft-beer-festival
HopScotch Festival Vancouver
Dates TBD (November 21-27 in 2022) PNE Forum and other locations, Vancouver, BC
Formerly just a whisky and beer festival, HopScotch has now become the largest combined spirits and beer festival in Canada. The two-day Grand Tasting Hall is the main event, but there are 15-20 additional events such as masterclasses throughout the week.
Tickets: TBD ($30-$135 in 2022). hopscotchfestival.com/home
You’ll find other festivals worth attending all through the year as well. Check Culinaire each month for more information.
David has worked in liquor since the late 1980s. He is a freelance writer, beer judge, speaker, and since 2014, has run Brew Ed monthly beer education classes in Calgary. Follow @abfbrewed.
Fine & Dine at Modern Steak Thursdays April 13, 27, and May 11 We're thrilled to offer three new premium surf and turf pairing dinners in the private dining room at Modern Steak in Southport. Our evenings here last year sold out very fast!
Vine & Dine at Codo, Delta Calgary Airport
Vine & Dine at Queens Thursdays March 9, 16, and 30
Six delicious dishes are carefully paired to complement the superb flavours of Chef Jenny’s always excellent menus at Vero Bistro’s sister restaurant!
One-Off Vine & Dine at Fresh & Local Market & Kitchens
Thursday March 23 Three of our favourite, very talented chefs are cooking two courses each for us at this special, one-off, collaboration six-course pairing dinner, and they can’t wait to show off their skills!
Friday April 14, Saturday 22, and Friday 28
We love introducing you to new restaurants, and the private dining room at Codo, in the totally refurbished Delta Hotel, Calgary Airport, is as new as it gets. And there's free parking too!
New events and dinners are added regularly so check vineanddine.ca as these evenings sell out rather quickly! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your places, and/or to be included in our bi-monthly updates so you hear about events before the rest of the city. We try to cater for all allergies.
30 Culinaire | March 2023
March 2023 | Culinaire 31 TOASTING TO 120 YEARS Fourth Generation. Family-Owned. Estate Grown. Supply your restaurant with Alberta’s finest meat & seafood. CONNECT WITH INTERCITY PACKERS. email@example.com 1-780-477-7373 13506 159th Street, Edmonton Intercity Packers Meat & Seafood is a producer of expert-cut steaks, fresh seafood, custom burgers & more premium-quality proteins. Our products are proudly prepared in Alberta by Albertans for retail & food service establishments throughout Canada. EVENINGS Let our evening glow light your way to the Hawthorn Dining Room & Lounge With a contemporary vintage vibe, unwind after a long day with our carefully curated live music, hand crafted cocktails and delectable menu Regardless of the occasion you will find plenty of reasons to toast the finest of Calgary nights 403 260 1219 | hawthorndiningroom ca | 133 9th Ave SW Calgary
BY ERIKA RAVNSBORG
pringtime is coming. When we think of spring, we’re reminded of fresh flowers, baby chicks hatching from their eggs, and cute fluffy bunny rabbits hopping around in a green meadow. As this is Alberta, we don’t see too much of that around this time. Instead, we still have snow on the icy ground, chicks that stay inside their shells until next month, and wild hares dodging our moving cars.
Speaking of shells, it brings to mind the wide and ubiquitous range of low-quality, hollow chocolate bunnies gracing the shelves of our big box and drug stores - a hollow shell themselves of the promise of good chocolate. Is it good enough to have a big chocolate bunny that skirts the definition of chocolate?
We wanted to find out more, and reached out to a number of local, premium, specialty chocolatiers, and asked them more about this well-loved treat.
Cococo Community Confections, Calgary: Nothing says impressive more than the Cococo Chocolatiers. With several international chocolate awards under their belt, these artisanal chocolatiers know their stuff when it comes to the cocoa bean. When looking for that perfect chocolate bunny, it helps to know that there are choices with Cococo. You have a variety of shapes, sizes, and types of chocolate. Not to mention that these chocolate-makers use sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. This place is definitely Easter bunny approved. cococochocolatiers.com
Essential Sweets, Edmonton: YEG or EGG? In Edmonton, there is a bakery that takes a lot of pride in their use of the cocoa bean. Known to many for their true artistry, this company makes colourful and whimsical creations for every occasion. Mostly you will find chocolate dipped strawberries, pretzels and Oreos but every so often they make chocolate
heart-shaped shells that go viral on social media. When it comes to their chocolate bunnies, it is more like a heads-or-tails situation. In this case, it is tails because you get a cute bunny bum to make you smile. So, burrow down and go get ‘em. facebook.com/Essentialsweets.yeg
Treats by Carla, Airdrie: Tasty treats just got really sweet. The city of Airdrie has its own homebound chocolatier that is becoming more and more popular with her creations. Known for the quality of products from her dedicated gluten-free kitchen, Carla has her own twist when it comes to chocolate. Need some proof? Order a cookies n’ cream chocolate bunny made with white Callebaut chocolate and gluten-free Kinnitoos cookies or try her gluten-free, chocolate-covered pretzels. facebook.com/treatsbycarla
Horse Creek Heritage Candy and Gifts, Cochrane: Remember in your childhood when there were old time candy shops? Think of that special place where you would go every week with your parents to collect all your favourite sweets.
There is a place like this in Cochrane where they pride themselves on all their local businesses. If you are looking for a cute tiny white chocolate bunny or a big milk chocolate bunny that kids and kidsat-heart yearn for, this is the place to go. horsecreek.ca
Oodles of Chocolates, Lacombe: On 50 Avenue in the tiny town of Lacombe, things have gotten a lot sweeter. This mother-daughter team of chocolatecreators have been making people smile since 2015 with treats that taste as pretty
32 Culinaire | March 2023
Treats by Carla
Cococo Community Confections
as they look. Their chocolate bunnies come in various sizes, shapes, and decorations. A person can get a special bunny that is decorated with colourful chocolate flowers adorning it and a straw on top of it, which we’ll assume is for drinking something awesome from it. Now this says, “spring is here.” oodlesofchocolates.ca
Au Chocolat, Morinville: When you are looking for a little bean-to-bar magic, there is a town 34 kilometres north of Edmonton called Morinville. There you will find a cornucopia of cocoa beans from all over the world, masterfully handled by certified chocolate-maker and chocolatier, Tammy MacDonald. When you taste her creations, you are promised not only the ultimate deliciousness but all natural ingredients. Her chocolate Easter bunny is naturally cute with its fluffy white belly, and warm milk chocolate body. Time for a road trip! auchocolat.ca
The Violet Chocolate Company, Edmonton: Daring flavours, superior ingredients, and artisanal preparations
are just a couple of ways to describe what this impassioned Edmonton chocolate chef makes. With great care and focused precision, chef Rebecca Grant crafts each chocolate by hand to make it that much more special. This includes her chocolate bunnies. Whether you want just the head or the whole thing, the Violet will deliver this in basketfuls and in a variety of flavours. thevioletchocolatecompany.com
Master Chocolat, Calgary: One-of-akind flavours and superb style are the name of the game at Bernard Callebaut’s Master Chocolat. A person can taste the emotion, essence, and skill of this remarkable man’s talent in each bite. Situated in Calgary, you will find dark chocolate, white chocolate, and milk chocolate bunnies that are all up for grabs. If you are lucky, you can have a little bit of everything in one decadent bunny. masterchocolat.com
Every year, we all look forward to Easter. Even with the snow still on the ground, this holiday promises us the hope of new beginnings. By the time the snow melts,
quickly after Easter here, we are greeted with green grass, fresh crisp breezes, and flowers just bursting to rise out into the world. The delicate purple lilacs, bright vivacious tulips, and sweet apple blossoms are worth waiting for in our province. But in the meantime, we have quality chocolate!
YYC FOOD & DRINK EXPERIENCE
March 17-26, 2023
Celebrate Calgary’s largest prix-fixe dining festival with YYC’s favourite restaurants & enjoy 10 delectable days of dining and creative culinary events. foodanddrinkexp.com
March 2023 | Culinaire 33
Oodles of Chocolates
Erika Ravnsborg is an Alberta freelance writer/ blogger/adventurer/explorer. Her blog, “This Magical World”, (magicalstoriestoshare.com) features her enchanted tales of travel, food, shopping, and culture.
MAKING THE CASE For Bubbles, Bouquets, and Bad-ass Wines
By TOM FIRTH
arch is a tricky month to predict what it’s going to be like, what the weather will bring, or even what sorts of things we will be getting up to (or if we will be staying in avoiding a late blast of winter snow). We might be planning on entertaining for Easter in April, or might be planning a last ski trip before the snow departs.
This month, sparkling wines were on my mind. Great value cavas, proseccos, and yes, some Canadian bottles, but also rosé – still and sparkling - were calling out my name… and rather loudly too. But not to fret if reds are your thing, I’m happy to recommend a few, covering several bases from versatile pinot noir to brassy malbec, and a charmer from Italy. May we all put our snow shovels safely away in March, and I sincerely hope we see a little green in our gardens too.
Find these wines by searching the CSPC code at Liquorconnect.com; your local liquor store can also use this code to order it for you. Prices are approximate.
Cune NV Cava Brut, Spain
While cava is uniquely Spanish, it can be made anywhere in Spain, giving it a little more freedom in terms of what the grape’s source might bring to the final blend. Cune’s cava is a pretty serious bottle with chalky mineral aromas, tarter fruits, and on the palate a fine weight which fills the mouth and carries on with a deep finish. Don’t serve this too cold, but this would also work with a creamy cheese or a quick afternoon nosh of slated almonds or light seafoods.
CSPC 812216 $20-24
Tom has been waxing on (and on) about wine, beer, and spirits for more than 25 years and freelances, consults, and judges on beverages all year long. He is the Managing Editor for Culinaire Magazine, and the Competition Director for the Alberta Beverage Awards.
Trivento 2021 White Malbec Reserve Mendoza, Argentina
A unique expression of a well-loved grape, this “white” malbec is made without any impact from the colouring skins of this dark variety. Only the barest pink in the glass, with delicate fruits leaning towards cherry or Gala apples, the palate too is crisp, quite dry, and easy going. Very similar to a pinot gris, but fresh and different – don’t serve too cold.
CSPC 844008 $16-18
Ironstone 2020 Obsession Symphony California, United States
A bit of a blast from the past, Ironstone Obsession flew off the shelves for many years in Alberta, and it’s still around and still as tasty as ever. Made entirely from the symphony grape (a crossing of a grenache and muscat types), this is a little on the sweeter side with lots of tropical fruit and quite spicy too with a pretty mellow finish. Would handle spicier foods or even a hot day in the sun with light snacks.
CSPC 355784 $21-24
Moselland 2020 Piesporter
An almost completely forgotten style of wine, at one point (in the 1960s and 1970s) you almost couldn’t throw a stick in an ALCB store without hitting a bottle or two of Piesporter. Typically riesling with müller-thurgau, this bottle is humming at about 8.5 percent alcohol, so you know there will be some sweetness. A little flinty on the nose with apple fruits; on the palate, rich and sweet with clean apple, mineral tones, and a juicy finish.
CSPC 383455 $20-22
34 Culinaire | March 2023
Bang for buck, cava is one of the finest buys around for sparkling wine. Soft and beautiful on the nose with tropical fruits or fruit cocktail, but also a little bit of honey and sourdough bread for added complexity. The palate pulls off with a great mouthfeel and lengthy, creamy finish. Darn good – so good, I finished the glass before I thought about food to go with it.
As more and more people are looking for alcohol-free options that don’t make you feel like you are sitting at the kid’s table, it’s great to see more and more selection. A dealcoholized sparkling wine made with riesling grapes, it’s quite dry, with good mousse, and excellent riesling notes. Crisp, flinty, and showing off apple-style fruit. A fine quaffer, and also a nice alternative to a soda.
CSPC 858587 $20-24
Maschio NV Organic Extra Dry Prosecco Treviso, Italy
A lot of work has been underway to elevate the quality and perception of prosecco, and it’s heartwarming to see more styles, vintage offerings, and yes, even new producers filling our shelves. Made with 85 percent glera grapes, this organic, extra dry prosecco carries grapefruit and yuzu style fruit, plenty of herb and spice, and would be best enjoyed at the table with saltwater fish or citrus laden dishes.
CSPC 831956 $28-30
Masottina NV Rosé Brut Prosecco Conegliano, Italy
Love prosecco? Love sparkling rosé too? It’s time to get your feet wet with some rosé prosecco. Made with a minimum of 85 percent glera grapes (the official grape of prosecco) and up to 15 percent pinot noir, the thing to look for is structure, great acids, complexity of fruit, and most importantly – some balance. Check, check, and check. Masottina is rife with all of the above and some great bubbles too. A gem.
CSPC 856317 $20-24
UKO 2018 Old Vines Malbec, Uco Valley Argentina
Old vine malbecs are completely worth looking out for if you love the grape - wines like this one coming from vineyards planted in the 1950s. Rich and complex with deep berry character, but remarkably floral with a touch of dust and spice. Completely mouth filling too with chewy tannins and a long, black fruit approach, big, bold and balanced. Pair with barbecued meats, or even some excellent take-out pizza.
CSPC 863002 $42-47
Perhaps a little closer to a ready-todrink than a sparkling wine, there is no disputing the longevity and deep love that the mimosa has in our hearts for the brunch or “early bird” crowd. A mimosa is really just orange juice and sparkling wine, but here, with Sicilian blood oranges, the flavour is a little more intense or tart, but also quite well balanced for a simple cocktail. At only 5 percent alcohol, it’s a nice way to kick off a brunch.
CSPC 733109 $19-22
A purely smashable pinot noir, and a well-priced one from Canada too. Leaning a little further towards a fruitcentric example rather than terroir driven, the nose brings prominent cherry and raspberry fruits with a touch of leafy vegetable tones, while on the palate zesty and fresh, with some big fruit, restrained tannin (even for pinot) and a tart finish. A fine choice for food, think pork burgers, game birds or duck, and even pizza night.
CSPC 251835 $30-34
Gray Monk 2019 Odyssey Rosé Brut
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Gray Monk is one of the early wineries in the Okanagan Valley and since day one, has been making some excellent value offerings, but also not afraid to push the boundaries a little with interesting or complex expressions or grapes. Their Odyssey rosé brut is showing off cherries and biscuit aromas, excellent fruit on the palate and a long and layered flavour presence. Exceptionally good rosé and I am pleased to say that it’s Canadian too.
CSPC 773106 $28-33
Velenosi 2019 Ninfa Rosso, Marche, Italy
This was our “Best in Class” red blend at the 2022 Alberta Beverage Awards and it’s easy to figure out why when you taste it. A blend of montepulciano, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah, the result is a full-bodied red that evolves on the palate with complex fruits, but also a deep earthiness and spice to finish. This would be best with layered dishes, slowly cooked to let the flavours mingle. Good Bolognese sauces, smoked meats, or even a range of hard cheese – but I wouldn’t complain about enjoying it on it’s own.
CSPC 868839 $45-50
March 2023 | Culinaire 35
Pere Ventura NV Reserva Brut Cava Spain
CSPC 854113 $19-22
Canella NV Blood Orange Mimosa Cocktail, Italy
Leitz NV Eins Zwei Zero Sparkling Riesling, Germany
Gray Monk 2020 Pinot Noir, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
BY TOM FIRTH AND LINDA GARSON
As we impatiently wait for spring – and springlike weather, we wanted to share some interesting and rather new expressions of some classic bottles. We have a top shelf Irish whiskey we had to share, but also a Japanese whisky and gin in line with our Japanese focus in this issue, and finally, a white cognac (!) and a side by side comparison of a classic cream liqueur along with it’s new, plant-based alternative.
Whether your activities are taking place inside or outside, we hope to have you covered!
Waterford “The Cuvée” Whiskey Ireland
It was a treat to meet Mark Reynier and hear him talk about Waterford Distillery at the Terroir Symposium here last year. He’s rightly proud of his single farm origin, terroir-driven whiskies, and now with a few years of whiskies under his belt there in southeast Ireland, Waterford has released The Cuvée – a blend of their whiskies. The inviting sweet and spicy nose leads to pepper and spice, cereal (or is that granola?), some dark chocolate, and citrus peel. Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day!
CSPC 859063 $98-102
Kujira 10 year Ryukyu Whisky, Japan
From the Okinawa Prefecture (historically Ryukyu Kingdom), Kujira’s Ryukyu whiskies are distilled from long grain Indica rice fermented with black koji mold indigenous to the island. The 10 year matures in virgin white oak barrels at the 140-year old Masahiro Distillery to produce a most intriguing spirit, all butter and bananas on the nose that follow through to the palate with a touch of salinity, jasmine, and clove. Definitely one for the curious to try!
CSPC 840200 $160-182
Kanomori Craft Gin, Japan
You may not be too familiar with kuromoji – a native Japanese deciduous shrub that Kanomori have used in their herbal liqueur for more than 400 years. Here in their top of the range gin, it takes centre stage to produce a delightfully fresh, and very smooth, intense woodland/forest gin, which belies its 47 percent ABV. Juniper, lemon peel, liquorice, aniseed, pine, sage, and rosemary, are among the 18 botanicals used, and clearly making their presence known, but kuromoji is king.
CSPC 859383 $77-80
Antarctica de Godet Cognac, France
Now for something unique – a white cognac. Inspired by a record-breaking yacht voyage to Antarctica, Godet created this eau de vie distilled from the rare folle blanche grape, and let it mature in 100-year old French oak barrels for seven years. Without any tannin, it’s smooth, clear, and pure, with delicate aromas of apple blossom, and flavours of poached pear with a hint of juniper. Shake over ice with triple sec and lemon juice for a different take on a Sidecar!
CSPC 791867 $59-62
Amarula Plant-Based Liqueur South Africa
An interesting and novel step for cream liqueurs coming to Alberta shelves. Entirely plant-based, vegan, dairy, gluten, and also nut-free, this take is using coconut milk and the marula berry flavouring. Surprisingly good, and less rich and less decadent on the palate with clean coconut flavours and a softer berry tartness. In some ways, this is perhaps more versatile than the classic, and certainly more suitable to modern tastes. Darn fine in cocktails too.
CSPC 860082 $33-35
Amarula Cream Liqueur, South Africa
One of the newest “classic” cream liqueurs, Amarula is worlds away from Irish Cream with a distinctly South African flair. Using marula berries, of which elephants are known to be enthusiastic fans, the fruit lends a plummy tropical character offset by a rich, caramel flavour and a palate that isn’t too sweet. An excellent alternative in cream liqueur, and as suitable for desserts as it is for grown-up coffee.
CSPC 342246 $30-34
36 Culinaire | March 2023
As Curator of the Alberta Railway Museum and with support provided by donations to Edmonton Community Foundation, Stephen Yakimets is expanding awareness of the important role rail played in the growth of our province.
Donations to ECF inspire hope, create opportunity and enhance the Edmonton lifestyle. We work with our donors to give, grow and transform. ecfoundation.org keeps the trains running through time.
Charity begins at Home.
...with Michiko Ono
BY LINDA GARSON
PHOTO BY DONG KIM
Growing up in Niigata, Japan, tea played an important role in Michiko Ono’s family. Their home had a traditional Japanese guest room with the traditional tea cabinet where her grandfather, who loved Japanese tea, had teatime with his friends. Her mother practiced the tea ceremony, so as a child, Ono was surrounded by Japanese tea culture.
After studying English literature at university, and achieving her nursery school certification, Ono worked with Nissan and as a teacher for little children, however wanting to continue studying English, she grasped the opportunity to participate in an exchange program to teach Japanese language and culture to Canada.
On returning to Japan, she took a position managing the ESL school, while in Canada, she had met her now husband, and after travelling back and forth for a few years to continue their relationship, she eventually moved to Alberta and assisted with student counseling at the Calgary ESL school.
Such a huge change was difficult, and it was tough for Ono to adjust to a new life here; she missed Japan, and one day in 2011, after drinking a cup of Japanese green tea, she was reminded how flavourful it was. “At that moment I realized tea is important for my life and my future, and I realized that I didn't know enough about it, so I took courses in both Japan and Canada to learn about teas,” she says. She is now a certified Nihoncha (Japanese Tea) instructor and tea sommelier with both the Japanese
and Canadian tea associations, a tea ceremony practitioner for the OmoteSenke tea school, and has been a Japan Tea Good Will Ambassador for Canada for the Nihoncha instructor association and the Japan Tea Export Council in Tokyo since 2016.
The idea of introducing Japanese tea culture and tea products to Canada came while on a visit to see family in Japan, when a friend connected her to two tea farmers.
Collaborating with chefs and baristas, Ono’s fine tea and teaware import business, Matsu Kaze Tea, has blossomed with restaurants all over the province now offering the teas. During the pandemic, she started an online store too, which has grown a lot and they now ship tea across North America. “It’s been quite successful, and I'm really happy with the online business,” she says. “A lot of people reach out to us to learn about Japanese tea and authentic tea wear, so we’re launching online education to learn the basics of the steeping method and also tea culture. Now new restaurants are opening in Alberta, and positive energy is coming back, we can move forward.”
What bottle does Ono have tucked away
for a special occasion?
On the table is a box containing a bottle of aged daiginjo sake from Kikuhime, in Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture, sealed in 1997. Kikuhime, (meaning ‘Chrysanthemum Princess’) brews quality sake using only yamada nishiki, the most highly prized sake rice.
Ono explains, “When I visited in Japan with my husband for a business trip in 2017, we went to Kanazawa city, Ishikawa Prefecture. We looked for some local souvenirs and saw this special vintage sake from the region at a gift shop – it was 20 years-old at that time. We’d never heard of aging sake before, so we were very curious. We’ve kept it unopened, so it is 26 years old now. We’re not sure if we have stored it properly, but we hope it’s still good.”
And when will she open the bottle?
“That's a very good question,” she smiles. “This sake is one of a kind and we’re looking forward to trying it. We forgot about it, so we are thinking probably another four years to get to 30 years old. It’s an interesting surprise. Now I’ve also learned that tea producers are finding ways to keep green tea for aging for a few years.”
38 Culinaire | March 2023
OPEN THAT BOTTLE
CALGARY’S L ARGEST SECTION OF WAGYU BEEF RESIDES AT MODERN STEAK ... OUR A EXPERTLY-CURATED PORTFOLIO OF WAGYU IS COMPREHENSIVE OF W ’S FINEST S ASSORTMENT THE ORLD EXPRESSION OF WAGYU
view the menu at www.modernsteak.ca
A N A L B E R T A P R I M E G R A D E S T E A K H O U S E
WAGYU OLYMPIC S, GOLD MEDAL WINNER, JAPANESE A5 K AGOSHIMA WAGYU
“Fe d the entire family forjust..."
Make dinner plans for Bragg Creek on April 21st
You won’t have to scrounge around to feed your appetite.
Taste of Bragg Creek is back after a hiatus due to “you know what.” Well, now that “that’s” behind us, gather up the scurry and hurry to Bragg Creek. Year round, wine & food merchants, caterers, and restaurateurs offer culinary experiences to t every occasion. On April 21st, from 5:00pm – 9:00pm, at the Bragg Creek Community Centre and surrounding Hamlet, we celebrate a variety of local tastes in one sitting. Bring your taste “buds” and enjoy.
For complete details visit tasteofbraggcreek.ca facebook facebook.com/tastebraggcreek TWITTER @TasteofBragg
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