Restaurant Review: The Nash

>> Friday, February 20, 2015


We were lucky enough to be one of the first individuals to see the new Nash in Inglewood last year and after sampling some of the delicious menu items I couldn’t wait to go back for more. So for a girls night out we decided to drop in for a bite or two.

Atmosphere: Amazing contrast between the dark cool colors of the Off Cut Bar and the bright open dining area of The Nash, featuring an open kitchen concept with unique décor from the original National Hotel.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $30+


Food and Wine: My friends and I love fresh baked bread and that was the first thing we ordered when we saw that it was available, so we could munch on it while we decided on the rest of our meal. The bread was made with grain flour that evening and had a nice outer crust and airy center. It went nicely with the homemade unsalted butter. To start we had the Brown Butter Gnochetti, which are smaller versions of gnocchi tossed with winter squash, sage and walnuts. The texture of the gnochetti was nice, slightly chewy and went well with the butter sauce. The squash and the sage helped cut through the slightly heavier sauce while the walnuts provided a nice crunch. Overall it was a notable way to begin our meal.

 
We also couldn’t pass on the Hand Cut Frites and Aioli and were glad that we didn’t. They were crispy and delicious. Each fry was cooked and seasoned perfectly. They were a great side and I would highly recommend them, especially if you needed something to accompany your drink. For my main, I ordered the Bison Flank Steak served with Brussels sprouts, onions and topped with a sweet bbq style glaze. The steak was cooked to perfection especially since bison tends to be a leaner meat, but I did find that it was slightly over seasoned. The sweetness of the sauce did help with the saltiness. The Brussels sprouts retained a good crunch and the onions also helped round out the flavours of the dish.

It was hard to pass over dessert, especially how intriguing they sounded. We finally decided on the Aerated Mascarpone Mousse which reminded me of an unbaked cheesecake. It came with a very tart cranberry sorbet to contrast the sugary spiced wafer and meringue. The server mentioned that everything on the plate was meant to be eaten together and not separately. So we made certain to get a bit of everything in each bite. Surprisingly everything managed to balance out, although we did end up with quite a bit of leftover sorbet. I’m personally not a huge fan of tart desserts so I definitely stuck more to the mascarpone cream which was extremely smooth. It hit the spot.



My Picks: Gnochetti

Overall: It’s great to see the old National hotel location transformed in to such a great restaurant space. I’m looking forward to going back to the Off Cut Bar to check out some of their unique cocktail offerings and definitely will grab another bite at the Nash to see what new and exciting changes they have planned.

The Nash Restaurant and Off Cut Bar
925 11 St SE
Calgary, AB
(403) 984-3365
Website: nashyyc.com

Nash Restaurant & Off Cut Bar on Urbanspoon

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Winefest Tickets Giveaway 2015!

>> Thursday, February 12, 2015

 
Its Winefest time again in Calgary, held at the Stampede Park BMO Building next weekend February 20 and 21. I have a set of tickets to give away for the Saturday February 21st Afternoon session from 2-5 p.m! So respond to this post and I’ll do a random draw next Wednesday for the winner.

For all of you that are interested, here’s a bit more information. Plus there are still additional tickets available for purchase during the Friday night session and the Saturday afternoon session.

Highly Anticipated Winefest Returns to Calgary

WHAT: Calgary’s all-inclusive wine event is back at the Stampede Park BMO Centre on February 20 – 21. Celebrating its 23rd year in Calgary, Winefest invites guests to sample from a wide selection of local and international wines from 16 of the world’s top wine regions. Wine experts will be on hand to share their knowledge and suggest tasting notes, as attendees sample their way from booth to booth. Attendees can nibble on a delicious selection of hors d’oeuvres from Stampede Catering, Springbank Cheese Company, Ollia Macarons & Tea, Rosso Coffee Roasters and Nefiss Lezizz.

During the event, attendees can stop by the on-site Sobeys Liquor store to purchase their favourite finds to enjoy at home. One ticket includes all-inclusive wine tasting, hors d’oeuvres, as well as a complimentary Riedel wine glass and Tasting Notebook.

WHO: Novice and seasoned wine lovers alike will enjoy a decadent afternoon or evening of all-inclusive wine tasting paired with delicious hors d’oeuvres. Winefest is a chance to enjoy a fun outing while discovering new wines and increasing wine knowledge.

WHY: Celebrate and sample from 266 wines from the world’s most renowned wine regions! Winefest is the perfect opportunity to ‘try before you buy’ and to discover new favourites in a casually refined atmosphere.

WHEN: February 20, 2015 7-10 p.m. Friday Evening Session
               February 21, 2015 2-5 p.m. Saturday Afternoon Session
               February 21, 2015 7-10 p.m. Saturday Evening Session *Sold out!

WHERE: Stampede Park BMO Centre, Hall E
                  20 Roundup Way
                 Calgary, AB T2G 2W1

TICKETS: Friday Evening Session - $85
                    Saturday Afternoon Session - $80
                    Saturday Evening Session - $85 *Sold out!

For ticket information visit:
http://www.celebratewinefest.com/calgary.html

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Restaurant Review: Lava Dining

>> Wednesday, February 4, 2015

 
Tucked away in Kensington is a relatively new restaurant featuring fusion cuisine with an Asian flare. I first found out about it when we were walking around the neighbourhood last year and when our friends asked about a new restaurant to try I suggested it. Needless to say I was quite excited when they came back and told me that the food was beyond amazing! I definitely had to check it out for myself.

Atmosphere: Contemporary and open, the space is really used to showcase the food itself.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $20+


Food and Wine: We decided to start with the Rare Seared Albacore Tuna Salad featuring a variety of fresh seasonal vegetables with a tarragon vinaigrette and garlic aioli. This wasn’t your typical tuna salad. The plate was stunning and beautifully arranged. You know what they say about eating with your eyes first. Luckily for us it was also extremely flavourful and refreshing. I really enjoyed the tarragon vinaigrette, which highlighted the taste of the tuna exceptionally well and all the different vegetables were a nice addition.

Next we had the Thai Chili Calamari which came on a bed of grape tomatoes and arugula salad with key lime vinaigrette. Again, this was another light dish since the calamari was grilled as opposed to deep fried. I really enjoy arugula and this was a good use of the peppery greens along with the tangy tomatoes and vinaigrette to tie the whole dish together.


We definitely had to try the Asian Sliders and ordered one of each. The Kakuni Pork Belly was my favorite since the extra fattiness from the pork belly itself provided that extra unctuousness to the steamed bun. Although the Braised Beef Short Rib was also quite tender and delicious. The short rib had a nice robust flavour blending well with the cucumber kimchi and jus. Lastly the Confit Duck Leg was an interesting choice and it reminded me of Peking Duck, the flavour profiles being very similar. I thoroughly enjoyed all of them, but did wish that there was a bit more greenery to cut through the heaviness of the sliders themselves.

For dessert we ordered the Lava Style Ice Cream Volcano which sounded quite exotic. It comes as your choice of different ice cream selections with a baked meringue and chocolate fudge sauce. We chose green tea and mango ice cream, which wasn’t an exact match but was what we were craving at the time. The ice creams were tasty and the dessert was satisfying, but we were expecting some sort of volcano or lava flow. Maybe that’s just the kid in me expecting a baking soda vinegar volcano, which probably wouldn't taste too good, but more so for effect.


We accompanied our meal with the Sumac Ridge Cabernet Merlot which is a blend of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and merlot varietals. A medium bodied wine that features dark cherry notes and a smooth finish, it definitely held up well against all the different dishes we sampled that evening.

My Picks: Albacore Tuna Salad, Thai Chili Calamari

Overall: We were glad that we stopped by because all the dishes we sampled were delicious. It was a bonus that they’re using local ingredients and gluten free options are also available for those that require it. I’m glad that we saw it when we were strolling through the neighbourhood and like our friends we definitely enjoyed our meal.

Lava Dining
314D 10 Street NW
Calgary, AB
(403) 283-8608
Website: lavadining.ca

Lava Dining on Urbanspoon

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Restaurant Review: Modern Steak

>> Friday, January 23, 2015


When I heard that Muse was closing, it was inevitable that I was saddened by the news. My husband and I have had some pretty spectacular meals there plus we celebrated our anniversary there making it extra special. An institution of sorts in Kensington, so when it was revealed that they were going to turn it in to a steakhouse, there were lots of skeptics. Saying Calgary already had too many steakhouses and don’t need another one. Well we are the province of steak and we’ve all got a penchant for it at heart. I was lucky enough to be able to attend a soft opening late last year and afterwards I couldn’t wait to bring my husband back to check out the newly renovated space and most importantly the updated menu.

Atmosphere: A contemporary space designed by the owner, really showcasing the beautiful split level design with lighter colors that really opens up the room.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $40s

 
Food and Wine: I had the honor of tasting their wonderful seafood selection the first time so I figured I’d stay with the steak and potatoes route this time order the Beef Tartare to start. Being a huge fan of tartares I’ve found that I’m very particular about the ingredients they use to flavour the meat. The version at Modern Steak was done perfectly. We really enjoyed the subtle tanginess which brought out the fresh flavours of the steak itself. The plate is served with house made salt and vinegar poplar bluff potato chips, but we opted to go with toasted crostinis which I found was easier to scoop up the tartare with and held up better as well. Although salt and vinegar chips are tasty!

I’m a sucker for Tenderloin and ordered the 8oz Heritage Natural Angus, which is sourced locally. All of the steaks come with a choice of side and I got the Sauteed Exotic Mushrooms. The steak was succulent and cooked to a perfect rare, I personally like my steaks rare especially when it’s tenderloin due to its lack of fat. I enjoyed that it also came with some roasted garlic which added some umami to the dish however I wouldn't have minded a bit more char on the exterior. Mushrooms were a classic choice, but the medley included crimini, shitaki and oyster mushrooms to change it up a bit.


The hubby ordered the Arctic Char served with crunchy Brussels sprouts, fingerling potatoes, capers and a pistachio lemon butter sauce. Everything on the dish complimented each other well. All of the ingredients were fresh and nicely cooked. The fish was extremely moist and flaky with a nice crispy skin. I liked the light but flavourful sauce, which didn’t overwhelm the fish. It’s definitely a great option for somebody looking for something aside from steak. We also ordered some Parmesan Fries and they were truly addicting. Each one was crispy and crunchy, it was hard not to eat them all except for the fact that I was already so full from everything else and I knew there was still dessert to be had.

We saw Cinnamon Bun on the dessert menu and could not pass it up and I’m glad that we didn’t. It was decadent and chewy with a crispness that only comes with a good amount of butter used to form the dough. Couple that with the gooey caramel sauce on top and creamy vanilla ice cream and you’ve got yourself a winner. I couldn’t stop eating it!


Wine for the evening was a beautiful Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley called Foppiano. It was a good wine for both those that are eating seafood and steak. Not overly bold or tart, the pinot had enough body to hold up to a steak but won't overshadow the fish. With lots of cherry and bright fruit flavours, it also makes for a great drinking wine.

My Picks: Beef Tartare, Cinnamon Bun

Overall: Although it was sad to see Muse close its doors, I’m glad that the space has been reinvented to a restaurant that isn’t only a steakhouse but does steak with a twist. Somebody once told me that change is good and I have to agree, but I’d say that change is delicious!

Modern Steak
107 10a St NW
Calgary, AB
(403) 670-6873
Website: modernsteak.ca

Modern Steak on Urbanspoon

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Starting 2015 Off Sweet and Spicy - Honey Sriracha Popcorn

>> Thursday, January 15, 2015

 
Happy 2015! Albeit a little late but I’m still shocked that its 2.0.1.5 seems like yesterday that we were just welcoming 2014, but there is a lot of rejoice about this year. It’s been officially 5 years since I’ve started this food blog and through this journey I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to share my recipes and thoughts with all! Plus I've had the opportunity have met some amazing people that have forever changed my life. It truly has been a wonderful experience and looking back it has also been a learning experience as well. In the world of food there is never such a thing as knowing too much because there is always more out there to discover and it’s a big culinary world with things changing all the time.

Talking about discovering new items, just earlier this month I started to use more coconut oil in my kitchen and also for its beauty benefits (soothing body lotion anybody?). I’ve read a lot about it online and I know tons of people are already enormous fans. Due to its multitude of uses it truly is nature’s gift. So to continue sharing my wonderful experiences on this blog here is a sweet (and spicy) way of using this ingredient to kick off hopefully another sweet year! Recipe has been adapted to make it even healthier from here.


Thanks again to all those that have followed my blog and provided me the support I needed the last couple years. Here’s to many more of everything! Experiences, meeting wonderful people and last but not least - great food~!

Nutritional Tidbit: When sourcing coconut oil you want to ensure that it was made using the cold pressed method, raw aka virgin. Anything aside from that would indicate that it was chemically produced and refined which would degrade the health properties of the oil. Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides which are shorter in length than animal fat and are metabolized differently in the body providing a fastest source of energy. It has been linked to increasing metabolism as well.

 
Ingredients:

1/2 cup of popcorn kernels
3/4 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup honey
3 tbsp sriracha or a bit more if you like things really spicy
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup walnuts (optional)

 
Preparation:

Air pop the kernels using a popcorn machine. Feel free to double the amount of kernels (1 cup popcorn kernels) if you prefer the popcorn to have less caramel coverage per kernel.

Preheat the oven to 300ºF and line two sheetpans with parchment paper, I had to use foil since I ran out of parchment which I prefer, set aside.

In a saucepan over low to medium heat, bring the coconut oil and honey to a boil, stirring occasionally. Be careful that it doesn’t boil over which happens very easily.

After 5 minutes or so, remove the pot from the stovetop.

In a small bowl, mix together the sriracha, baking soda, salt and vanilla extract.

Add the mixture to the honey and coconut oil. Stir everything together quickly to avoid it from foaming overtop the pot.

Pour the caramel over top the popcorn until thoroughly mixed and add in the walnuts if using.

Transfer the popcorn to the two sheet pans and spread out evenly to allow them to crisp up since the popcorn will be a bit mushy at this point.

Place in oven for approximately 45 minutes, mixing every 15 minutes or so to avoid the popcorn from clumping.

They’re ready when the caramel turns brown in color. Remove from oven, they’ll still feel a bit gooey and soft at this time but will harden up as it cools.

Store in airtight container for up to one week (if they last that long).

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Restaurant Review: Muku Japanese Ramen

>> Friday, December 19, 2014


We’ve had a pretty warm and snow free winter so far, but somehow this hasn’t stopped me from craving warm and comforting dishes. I suppose it’s just that time of year where I just want all things soothing, which is why I’ve been finding myself eating more warm soupy meals lately. Ramen is definitely up there on my list when I think of something warm and comforting.

Atmosphere: A tiny cozy noodle house meant for smaller groups of diners. Be sure to arrive early to avoid lineups.

Price Range: Mid $10s

Food: When you first enter Muku you’re reminded that you’re at a restaurant specializing in ramen noodles and ramen alone. They don’t serve sushi here. They do however have some small bites to start off your meal while you’re still waiting for your noodle bowl and we did just that. Starting with some crispy Deep Fried Squid served with mayo for dipping. The squid were crunchy and lightly battered. It went nicely with the mayo which is my dip of choice. However, I did find that they were a bit oily but since it was only a snack sized portion it wasn’t too overwhelming.


I was super excited for my Spicy Tonkotsu Ramen with pork (chashu), fresh green onion, baby corn, Japanese fish cake (Naruto) in a thick savory pork bone and soy based broth topped with a dollop of hot sauce. Before I even dug in I admired the cloudiness and aromas coming off of the broth, both signifying a great tonkotsu bowl. I really enjoyed the broth used, you could really taste the depth of flavour and how they’ve been able to extract the essence of the pork bones. There weren’t too many toppings included but the noodles themselves had a really nice texture. They were chewy, not gummy and held up well against the broth. I liked the added spice to the soup. It wasn’t too hot but just a touch of lingering spice at the end of the bite.

The hubby ordered the Miso Ramen with chashu slices, green onion, corn kernels, boiled bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, carrots and dried seaweed all in a chicken and fish broth with miso paste for flavouring. Again the noodles were perfectly cooked in his bowl of ramen. The broth was still hearty, with lots of nutty sweetness even though it’s made with the use of chicken and fish instead of pork bones. If you like your chashu aka slices of pork then you’ll like this option. The pork at Muku is much leaner than what we’re used to but it’s also perfect for those that aren’t a fan of the fatty pork, but the flavour of the pork itself is still very good. My husband did find the portion sizes a bit smaller than other ramen places we’ve visited, so for those that have a larger appetite make sure to let your servers know so they can suggest either additional noodles or toppings so you don’t leave feeling unsatisfied.


My Pick: Tonkotsu Ramen (regular or spicy)

Overall: Specializing in ramen means they do it well. The noodles are perfectly cooked and the broth is hearty and flavourful. Personally I enjoy more toppings on my ramen, there is an option to add additional items to your bowl so feel free to experiment and I hope you all keep warm during this season especially with some ramen in your stomach!

Muku Japanese Ramen
326 14 Street NW
Calgary, AB

Muku Japanese Ramen on Urbanspoon

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Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

>> Wednesday, December 10, 2014


When cooking, rarely do I ever measure out the exact amounts of each ingredient that I’m using, which can make it difficult to share my recipes. A lot of what I cook is based on estimation depending on how much broth I’m cooking or how big the roast is. Everything is done by feel and taste since I don’t always knows the exact weight of all the drumsticks or the pork chops, although I’m getting a lot better now, especially knowing that I need to capture the quantities I’ve used in order to share it with all my readers.

When it comes to baking you can’t use that same approach. Baking is much more methodic and requires exact measurements to ensure that the results achieved are exactly as intended. So when I find a good recipe I tend to adhere to it pretty closely, changing it only slightly to make it more of my own. Sometimes I might lower the amount of sugar used because I personally find it a bit sweet or change the type of flour or sugar used to accommodate what I have at home. However, the recipe that I used for this year’s Food Blogger Bake sale sounded perfect and therefore I really didn’t change the amount or type of ingredients, but instead I altered the preparation and cooking time for a chewier cookie. You can find the original recipe here. Let me know what you guys think!

Nutritional Tidbit: It seems a bit of a stretch to call a cookie healthy but these do have some nutritional benefits with the use of dark unsweetened chocolate. Dark chocolate has been shown to contain antioxidants which protect our bodies from harmful free radicals. It also has a good amount of minerals required by your body. Although sources say that it may lower LDL and cardiovascular risk, we should still remember that chocolate is a treat and like all other foods, eaten in moderation.



Ingredients:

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter
4 oz dark unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsps vanilla extract 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips



Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 325ºF and line two baking trays with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and spices. You can choose to use the ones suggested or add in additional flavours like nutmeg or cardamom. Feel free to experiment.

In a microwave safe bowl heat up the butter and unsweetened dark chocolate for 30 secs at a time until melted, stir the mixture each time until they’re well blended. I know a lot of recipes call for unsalted butter but I prefer to use salted butter and just remove the salt from the recipe, if you’re using unsalted butter just add in 1/2 tsp of salt!

In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs and vanilla. Pour in the chocolate mixture and stir until all the ingredients are well blended together.

Slowly fold in the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. This may take a bit of elbow grease but I prefer to do it by hand to avoid over mixing.

Add in the chocolate chips and continue to fold the batter until they are evenly distributed throughout.

Roll the dough in to roughly 1 1/2 inch balls, place on the parchment about 1 inch apart. Slightly press down the batter since the dough itself doesn’t spread much while baking.

Put in the oven for roughly 8-10 mins depending on how chewy you like your cookies. I prefer to mine half-baked so I take them out closer to 8 mins.

When you remove the cookies from the oven, remove them from the baking tray and allow to fully cool. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week (if they last that long).

Recipe makes about 2 dozen.

Enjoy!


A group of food bloggers around Calgary also thought it would be a great chance for us to share our holiday baking recipes with the Sweet Holiday Blog Hop. Check out these delicious recipes for your Christmas baking!

Food Mamma - Candy Cane Bark
Bakers Beans - Orange Gingerbread Cookies
Dish N The Kitchen - Salted Pistachio Sablés
Julie Van Rosendaal - Sticky Toffee Pudding
Because I Like Chocolate - Vegan Nanaimo Bars
Heathers Eats - Butter Tarts
Miss Foodie's Gourmet Adventures - Hazelnut Shortbread
Merry About Town - Nutella Pretzel Cranberry No Bake Cookies

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