Restaurant Review: Bread and Circus Trattoria

>> Thursday, June 28, 2018


Recently I attended a comedy show where the opening bit was about Calgary’s downtown and how it was quite quiet in comparison to other cities, but that’s because they didn’t know where to look. There are pockets of activity in our city and if you’re not in the know then you’ll be missing out. People who live here know that 17th Ave is one of those places and with all the new restaurants and shops that are constantly opening on the street, it’s no wonder that Calgarians flock here to get their fill of the scenery. Recently opened in this area includes Bread and Circus Trattoria, right next to Una Pizza and in the front of Frenchie Wine Bar. An awesome location so I couldn’t wait to go check it out!


Atmosphere: A warm and intimate dining room showcasing delicious plates that are perfect for sharing.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $20+

Food & Wine: There were so many different dishes that I wanted to try it was hard to decide what to order and we ended up with mostly antipasti plates since they were perfect for sharing so we could try a number of different dishes. To start we had the Egg Yolk Ravioli made with roasted pumpkin, pecorino romano and topped with pine nuts and a brown butter sauce. I highly recommend ordering one per person or maybe even two because you definitely want a whole ravioli to yourself. The pasta has a perfect chew and is complimented well with the creaminess of the pumpkin filling.


The Puttanesca On Toast with blistered cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, white anchovy, poached egg on sourdough toast presented a wonderful combination of savory flavours. The tartness and sweetness of the tomatoes elevates the dish along with the saltiness of the anchovy. Everything just comes together nicely one bite after another.


We were also treated to the Taleggio Stuffed Gnocchi with mushroom and pickled mustard seed puree, crispy prosciutto and lemon zest. It was originally a specialty dish that made it on the menu! I hope they bring this one back, the taleggio along with the mustard seed puree made for a delicious flavour contrast. Not often do you see stuffed gnocchi on the menu so this was a treat. I would suggest ordering it if you ever see it back on their menu.

To lighten things up a bit we ordered the Caesar Salad served with a head of romaine lettuce, dill, Caesar dressing, toasted croutons and parmigiano Reggiano. The dill was a nice addition, not something I would have thought went in to a Caesar salad, but it provided an additional flavour kick along with the croutons and prosciutto it made for a nice break from our other dishes.


For dessert we ordered the Zeppole stuffed with chocolate coffee custard. If you’ve never had a zeppole before you don’t know what you’re missing. They’re amazing fluffy little Italian donuts served with different sauces, in this case a chocolate coffee custard. I could literally eat these all night they were amazing and the coffee custard inside was perfection!

Bread and Circus offers a wonderful selection of wine and cocktails to pair with your meal. If you’re not sure what to order, don’t be afraid to ask your server as they’ve always got some great suggestions!


Overall: The food here was delightful and is a perfect extension of Una. The dishes here are a perfect addition to the 17th Ave scene. I thoroughly enjoyed the ones that I had the opportunity to taste and am looking forward to going back to try more (eyeing the Chicken Liver already which I’ve heard is divine). So for those that know where to look, Calgary is not the quiet town but instead a bustling city with an amazing food scene and culture.

Bread and Circus Trattoria
616 17 Ave SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 476-3615
Website: breadandcircusyyc.com

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Cardinale's New Patio and Menus for the Summer!

>> Friday, June 8, 2018


You can totally sense a change in the vibe of the city once summer hits. The city literally comes alive! People are roaming about, festivals kickoff and patios are packed. Calgarians thoroughly enjoy their patios sometimes even when the weather isn’t at its finest. We brave the cold to get just a taste of that al fresco dining experience. Luckily for us there are patios a plenty during the summer when it’s perfect to sit outside and soak it all in. A new addition to the patio scene this year is Cardinale, which recently finished construction on their brand new patio for the summer and just in time for stampede! We were lucky enough to go down for a visit and try out their new summer food and cocktail menu as well!

Atmosphere: Cozy restaurant interior and intimate patio, perfect for sharing a couple drinks or dinner with friends.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $20+


Food & Drinks: There are some spectacular dishes at Cardinale and luckily for me they’ve remained on the menu and along with it some delicious new additions and tweaks to make their selections even more mouthwatering. We started with their new Calamari. I am always drawn to grilled calamari because it’s not too often that you see it on the menu with most places preferring to deep fry theirs. The sauce and accompaniments pair perfectly with the light flavors of the calamari. The bitter radicchio salad really blossomed the flavors of the gremolata.

Our other appetizer was my favorite on the menu (one that they’ve kept) the Gamberi aka salt baked prawns with jalapenos, pickled fennel and served with a garlic aioli. Just thinking about this dish is making my mouth water. There is a reason why they’ve kept it on their menu! The prawns are perfectly cooked, juicy and sweet. The flavours are further elevated by the garlic aioli and the jalapenos. Perfection!


For our mains we shared the Gnocchi which has been redone in a creamy mushroom sugo and blue cheese opposed to their previous tomato based dish. Surprisingly this dish was not too heavy even though it was in a cream sauce and the blue cheese actually accentuates the taste of the earthy mushrooms. I thoroughly enjoyed this and could see it becoming a crowd favorite.

We also had the Linguini with saffron, lobster, fennel, sambuca and grape tomatoes. The noodles themselves were well cooked and you could definitely taste the hint of sambuca throughout, without it being overpowering. Plus you can never go wrong with lobster!


For dessert we ordered the Ricotta Al Caffe, their take on a tiramisu with sweet ricotta, amaretti cookies to give it a textural crunch, espresso and whipped cream. I’m not a huge sweet dessert fan so this was perfect especially if you enjoy your coffee based desserts. I really like the addition of the amaretti cookies so it’s not your typical soft pudding like tiramisu.

To pair with our meal, we got to sample some of their cocktail creations which has also been revamped for the season and perfect for the patio. We had the Organ Grinder which is similar to an old fashioned made with makrers mark bourbon, amaro nonio, dates, biters and orange peel. It was a nice way to kick things off. Next we tried the Claudia with panerea gin, house made tonic, prosecco and juniper. It was super refreshing and a perfect patio drink. The server also recommended the Soylent Green and it's not what you think it is but instead it’s similar to a Pimm’s cup.

My Pick(s): Calamari, Gnocchi

Overall: For those that are looking for something different this year or a new patio spot, be sure to check out Cardinale. It’s got amazing food and drinks to complement our summer weather. Now the only difficult part will be to decide on what to eat and drink since there are so many great choices!

Cardinale
401 12 Avenue SE
Calgary, AB
(403) 264-6046
Website: cardinale.ca

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Restaurant Review: Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant

>> Tuesday, May 15, 2018


Seems like the weather has finally turned around in the city and the roads have cleared and I can confidently say that summer is just around the corner! It has been a crazy winter, one that didn’t seem like it was ever going to end. Luckily for me, there was lots of yummy eats that really got me through the season including this amazing meal we shared at Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant earlier this year. Although it was quite chilly when we made our way down, it was like stepping out in to a winter wonderland and enjoying some quiet time outside the hustle and bustle of the city.

Atmosphere: Cozy and intimate, a great location for that special night out with your significant other or a lovely brunch.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $30+


Food & Wine: We started our evening with a lovely flatbread amuse bouche that was provided by the Chef to really get our taste buds going. Shortly afterwards we got our appetizers, the Confit Rougie Duck Leg Croquette served with cornichon, shaved fennel and cranberry mustard aioli. The croquette was super flavourful and had a really lovely crunch on the outside providing the perfect amount of texture to the dish. We also shared the Canadian East Coast Oysters on the half shell with freshly grated horseradish and lemon mignonette, which were sweet and fresh. A great way to start our meal.

Next we decided on the Suft & Turf for Two as our main. You can’t go wrong with the best of both worlds, the platter came with Alberta Beef Tenderloin, roasted vegetables, Herb crusted bone marrow, scallops, shrimp, mussels and salmon. Everything on the platter was treated with care and cooked to perfection. I really enjoyed being able to sample the various items that were served plus people who know me knows that I like variety and this is exactly what I got! For those that are looking to try different items on the menu without having to make the tough choices, Bow Valley Ranch offers a Chef’s tasting available for Sunday night dinner where the chef has chosen to highlight certain items on their menu each week.


We couldn’t not have dessert since they all sounded so amazing! So we ordered the Coconut Carrot Cake with salted caramel, coconut icing and carrot sorbet. The cake itself wasn’t overly sweet, which is perfect for me and the coconut icing was a nice twist on the traditional cream cheese icing. The standout was the carrot sorbet, I wouldn’t normally think carrot and in this manner, but it worked really well with the rest of the items on the dish. It was a perfect ending to a lovely meal.

My Pick(s): Surf & Turf


Overall: We really enjoyed ourselves that evening and it was nice to leave the city lights behind and feel like we were transported to another place entirely. There were many different items on the menu that I can’t wait to try and now that the weather has warmed up I’m looking to making our way down there more often.

Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant
15979 Bow Bottom Trail SE
Calgary, AB
(403) 476-1310
Website: bvrrestaurant.com

Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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The Launch of Noble Fare Catering

>> Monday, April 23, 2018

As a soon to be mom of two, it’s hard to find the time to have an evening out with the hubby without missing our son or being too tired. However, we’re super fortune that we have family in the city that loves taking our son for the evening so that we can get a date night here and there. I was really excited that the event for the launch of Noble Fare Catering landed on one of those days and we were able to attend. What a better way to get new inspiration for party planning and upcoming events…baby showers and birthday parties anyone?

Hosted in the incredible new studio theatre of the C-Space King Edward building. A huge 1,750 sq ft. event hub perfect for anything from weddings to stand up receptions. The space was a perfect blend of historical and modern-day architecture with the King Edward building as it’s backdrop. Throughout the room we were treated with different stations offering a sampling of the various dishes available from Noble Fare Catering.


After our welcome cocktail, mine was the Crushable made with Eau Claire gin, pineapple, lemon, flora kola and Happy Belly mint kombucha. It was very refreshing and not overly sweet, which was perfect. Our first stop was the Charcuterie & Cheese table which featured house made crostinis, buttermilk crackers, prosciutto, pâté, sausages, cheeses, dried fruit, candied nuts, mustard and pickled vegetables. It was literally a charcuterie lover’s dream. There was simply everything you needed to go with a glass or two of your favorite wine. If you’re curious about the different options available, it’s definitely customizable and they have a listing of the different variety of nibbles available on their website.


Next we moved over to the small bites table which showcased a variety of their culinary one biters. Some of my favorites were the Thai Marinated Squid and Pineapple with panang curry, the Italian Style Wood Grilled Prawns with piri piri butter and the Ahi Tuna Poke with avocado and grilled pineapples. We also had the opportunity to try the Pork Meatballs, Carrot Tartare, Asian Chicken Thigh, Nash Beef Sliders, which were also very tasty.


It was hard not to want to stay here for the rest of the evening but the fresh made risotto was calling our name. The risotto isn’t just any old risotto from a pan, it gets mixed in to a lovely Parmesan Wheel which then provides it the added richness and creaminess elevating the taste of the entire risotto itself. It was definitely a decadent dish, which I think would be perfect addition to any reception or event.


Next was the Chill Bar showcasing freshly shucked East Coast Oysters, Beef Tartare, Tuna Tartare and Shrimp with bloody mary cocktail sauce. Everything looked amazing, especially to someone who loves all things raw! This would definitely be a hit amongst any party since who doesn’t love themselves some oysters and tartare? Plus, the homemade chips were to die for, a perfect pairing to the tartares.


Last but not least was the Dessert table with sweets ranging from Assorted Mini Milkshakes, Panna Cotta, Milk Chocolate Mousse, Boston Cream Doughnuts to their famous Stilton Cheesecake Bites and Brown Butter Lemon Tarts. I thought everything looked amazing and since they were bite sized it was perfect for sampling a little bit of each. I really enjoyed the appearance of everything, the mini milkshakes were delightful and the stilton cheesecakes were a hit as usual.
 


There were so many amazing dishes all evening long that I was hard pressed to pick a favorite. Everything tasted amazing and we were in such a beautiful venue – almost made me want to redo our vows. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and I couldn’t wait to share all my new-found catering info with my friends and readers that have upcoming events. Noble Fare offers a refreshing take on catering and their dishes are perfect for anything ranging from a corporate event to a custom wedding. I definitely picked up some ideas along the way!


Noble Fare Catering
Website: noblefarecatering.com

cSPACE King Edward
Website: cspacekingedward.com

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Celebrating Cilantro's 30th Anniversary!

>> Friday, April 6, 2018

Lately I’ve found that I’ve been heading back to my favorite tried and true restaurants even though there has been so many great new openings in town. Sometimes nothing beats the tried, tested and true, which can definitely be said for Cliantro on 17th Ave. They recently just celebrated their 30th year anniversary with an amazing new revamp of their dining space. I’ve always enjoyed Cilantro for their tasty pizzas and pasta dishes. Luckily for me, I got to join in on their 30th year celebrations and tasted a number of their new dishes along with some favorites.


The evening started with a light reception of canapes featuring their Beef Striploin Meatballs, flavourful CRMR Bison Tartare (for those that don’t know, Cilantro is part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts which serve their own farm raised meats) and Forno Baked Pizzas such as the crowd favorite pear and gorgonzola, wild boar sausage, fire roated tomato, elk salami and chicken & pancetta. Cilantro also offers a wide selection of wines and we were lucky enough to sample each course with a different type of wine. Here we were provided with a light Riesling from Wagner Stempel. Not overly too sweet as Rieslings are concerned marked with peach and pear notes with nice hint of acidity.


The guests were all then seated for a lovely 4 course meal starting with appetizers of Forno Roasted Olives, Pork Fried Almonds, Brown Butter Carrots and Parsnips with sumac, almond powder, parmesan, dill and a Charcuterie platter made with a Chef’s selection of three locally sourced cured meats. The charcuterie served is also available at Urban Butcher locations in and around the city. I particularly enjoyed the brown butter carrots and parnsips since it’s rare to see them roasted and served in such a manner. It helped retain their sweetness and the brown butter sauce provided an extra level of complexity. With this course we were served the Testalonga Chenin Blanc Cortez magnum bottle from South Africa. It played quite nicely with all the smoky flavours of the food and had a grapefruit aroma with a good kick of acid.


Our next course featured Cilantro’s different pasta styles and we even got to try a bit of the gluten free pasta, which I thought tasted amazing for gluten free! I couldn’t even tell the difference! We had the Penne Bolognese made with 6hr slow braised beef tenderloin, pancetta, basil, the Elk Gnocchi served with braised CRMR elk rib, tomato ragu, kale, parmesan, salt cured egg yolk and the Lemon Conchigliette with chorizo, scallops, prawns, snap peas, poblano where the peas paired perfectly with the Radikon Ribolla Gialla wine. This was probably my favorite wine of the evening! Its definitely unconventional due to the high amount of solids in the wine which you normally don’t expect. It’s a very complex wine with hints of cloudy pale copper and pinkish hues. It was truly spectacular with the snap peas. I could not stop drinking it! As for the pasta itself, all the dishes were cooked perfectly and the flavours of each dish were unique that it never felt overly heavy or one noted.


For the primi or the main, we were served CRMR Braised Bison Short Rib with a brown cola braise, Kale and Romaine Ceasar with herb crouton, soft poached quail egg, parmigiano Reggiano. The short ribs were so tender and soft that you didn’t need a knife to cut through the meat. The jus wasn’t overly sweet even though it uses a cola braise and the dish goes quite nicely with the kale and romaine Caesar. I’m a huge fan of both the traditional and kale Caesar salads so mixing the two greens together was pure genius. It’s perfect for someone who’s never tried a kale salad before and wanting to venture a bit. We were served a red from Greece, The Birds and Bats Three Years Down, which really surprised me because I remember none of the wines in Greece were all that great. However, this one was a nicely rounded medium bodied wine with hints of cocoa and anise, which it complimented the ribs nicely.


Sadly, my evening had to end a bit early while the rest of the guests were treated to a Cheese Course with lovely house made preserves to wrap up the evening. It was definitely unique since we tend to think of something sweet in the form of dessert. I guess you could say it came in the form of wine which was the Reichsgraf Von Kesselstatt Riesling. Although this one again was a Riesling, it is definitely in the sweet dessert wine category. With notes of apricot and tropical fruit, it was a great way to end a delicious meal.


As part of their reopening Cilantro is now also offering daily special Tuesday through Friday. Check out their website for more information: cilantrocalgary.com. What a great way to celebrate mid-week if you’re looking for something different or if you’re looking for something special to celebrate just like how Cilantro is celebrating their 30th year!

Cilantro
338 17 Ave SW
(403) 229-1177
Website: cilantrocalgary.com

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