Summer Cocktails and More at The Keg

>> Monday, May 2, 2016

What warm weather we've had this year and it seems to be sticking! Patios are all officially open and what better time than for the Keg to launch their summer cocktails! Starting May 2nd, their new line up of cocktails will be available for all to enjoy and I was lucky enough to be able to sip my way through some of their delicious offerings!

We started with the light and refreshing Rosemary Gimlet made with gin, limoncello, lemon juice and fresh rosemary. This is definitely my kind of cocktail, not overly sweet with the savory rosemary adding in a nice earthiness to the drink plus it's just plain delicious. It was probably my favorite of the evening and we just only started.

Next was the Pineapple Splash. Another winner in my opinion, this screams summer to me with the fresh pineapple garnish and the muddles pineapple and mint. It reminded me of an elevated mojito. Made with gosling's black seal rum, muddled fresh pineapple and mint, brown sugar, lime juice and ginger beer. It's the perfect drink for the summer patio season.

For someone looking for something bolder, there's the Drunken Cherry mixed with tequila, triple sec, house made drunken bing cherry juice, agave syrup and fresh lemon and lime juice. You can taste the tequila here which is needed to cut through the sweetness of the cherries. It would be great as an aperitif or even just something to pair with a nice savory dish to balance out the week and tartness of the cherries.

Last but not least we have a play on the whisky sour with the Keg's own New York Sour made with whisky, fresh lemon and lime juice, simple syrup and topped off with a red wine float. The colors in this cocktail are amazing and makes it a stand out. The addition of the red wine really changes up the flavour profile of the drink adding an extra level of depth. I would recommend this if you're looking for a twist on the traditional drinks such as a manhattan or old fashioned.

We couldn't have all these fabulous drinks without some amazing food dishes to accompany them and at the Keg they have a full menu of sharing plates or appetizers to go with their cocktails. It's perfect for those who are looking for a few small bites without feeling the need to order a full meal. The Ahi Tuna Tacos were fresh and light with a creamy spicy aioli and slaw to compliment the fish. Great for those looking for something lighter. For those looking for something more, there's the Prime Rib Sliders, with housemade prime rib and dipping jus to top everything off. There's also a Blue Cheese crusted Filet for those looking for something more substantial. The blue cheese adds extra flavour without overpowering the delicate taste of the filet which is cooked perfectly medium rare. Finally, if you're just looking for the perfect sharing plate, there's the Bacon Wrapped Scallops. Salty, savoury and decadent, you really can't go wrong with them!

I can't wait to go back to the Keg to try some of the other cocktails on their new menu including the Sparkling Peach and the Mango Mojito. Everything just screams summer and what a summer we're going to have if this weather holds up!


Restaurant Review: Klein Harris

>> Friday, April 15, 2016

What is coast to coast Canadian cuisine? People mostly just think poutine when they think Canadian food, but we’re oh so much more than that. At the new Klein Harris Chef James Waters has dedicated their menu to showcasing local Canadian ingredients and flavours, everything from fresh oysters to local meats and vegetables. You can tell there is a lot of thought put in to the menu and I just couldn’t wait to taste it all.

Atmosphere: Beautiful redesign of the previous space into both a bright posh restaurant and cozy lounge all in one.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $20s

Food & Wine: The menu at Klein Harris is divided in to three sections; Tides / Currents for seafood, Roots / Stalk for vegetables and Wild / Farm for all meat dishes. We decided to order a bit from each to get a taste of all the various flavours. To start from Tides / Currents we ordered the Diver Scallops. The scallops were served with farmer’s bacon, braised peppers, napa cabbage and an apple nosh (similar to an apple puree). The dish had notes of both sweet and sour which really lifted the taste of the perfectly seared scallops. It was a nice light way to start off the evening.

From Roots / Stalks we had to try the Mushroom Ravioli, with flavours coming from the mixed wild mushrooms, brown butter leeks, blistered tomatoes, arugula and shaved gouda. The pasta on the raviolis was paper thin which really allowed the earthiness of the mushrooms to come through. I thoroughly enjoyed the brown butter sauce, it wasn’t overpowering and I believe the addition of the leeks with all the greens really helped bring those flavours together.

Next from Wild / Farm were our mains. I ordered the Pork Roast served with creamy whipped potatoes, caramelized apples and leeks, drizzled with a screech reduction and topped with fried sage. I really enjoyed all the flavours of the dish. Apple and pork are a classic combination and found that the chef had a very light hand with seasoning, perfect for those that aren’t looking for a heavy dish.

My husband had his eye on the duck breast which they were unfortunately out of that evening (will have to go back!). So he decided on the Hanger Steak which came with roasted butter potatoes, mushrooms, onions and a thyme garlic sauce. The steak was very lightly seasoned but the sides and the sauce added an extra depth of flavour, loved the use of mushrooms and potatoes here.

To end our evening we ordered the Bread Pudding and Doughnuts for dessert. The bread pudding had a light crunchy exterior and was gooey inside; topped with lots of rum butter sauce it wasn’t overly too sweet. I love an a la mode dessert and ordered a side of vanilla ice cream, which complimented the warm bread pudding. There’s just something about hot and cold that’s just perfection. My husband’s doughnuts looked amazing and I couldn’t help but have a taste (or two). They were soft and fluffy with a light dusting of cinnamon sugar. The best part was that they also came with two dipping sauces: caramel and chocolate. It was fun mixing up the combination of flavours. I highly recommend trying it with a cappuccino or Americano.

It’s hard to visit Klein Harris without sampling some great cocktails made by mixologist Christina Mah. Their version of the Caesar is anything but your typical red hued cocktail. Made with an in house clam and celery broth instead of the typical clamato juice, it provides a nice change to the typical sodium heavy Caesar. Then further topped with tomato, pickled celery and carrots replacing the celery salt rim, it elevates the Caesar to the next level.

My Picks: Diver Scallops, Mushroom Ravioli

Overall: They’ve done a great job of using local ingredients to highlight the different flavours of their dishes. I was very honored to have been invited to sample their menu and can’t wait to be back. Chef Waters mentioned that they’re going to be updating their menu to reflect the various seasons so I’m looking forward to that, plus we still need to try that duck breast!

Klein Harris
110 8 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 262-8100

Klein & Harris  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Restaurant Review: Ten Foot Henry

>> Thursday, March 31, 2016

Even though I’m born and raised in Calgary, I’ve never really heard much about the history of our city, which I always thought was a shame. Until recently that is. I learned about a little or big cartoon character that was quite famous in the city. Ten Foot Henry was renowned throughout the city around the 80s and even though we haven’t heard much about him since, a new restaurant that opened up on 1st Street has decided to keep his name and make a tribute to this fascinating character. I couldn't wait to dine there and was extremely lucky to be invited for dinner!

Atmosphere: Bright airy dining area which feels like you’re in a garden oasis due to accents of planters and greenery.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $20s

Food & Wine: The menu at Ten Foot Henry focuses mainly on veggie dishes with a twist all of which are meant for sharing such as the Collard Greens with merguez sausage, shiitake mushrooms and chickpeas, which sound simple but the flavours hit all the right notes. The shiitake mushrooms are full of buttery goodness and the collards are cooked perfectly. It’s a dish I would definitely order again. We also really enjoyed the Salt Roasted Potatoes served with shishito peppers and a creamy mayo. The potatoes were cooked just right and the added peppers gave it an interesting kick without it being overly spicy.

Don’t get me wrong, they don’t only serve vegetables. There are also wonderful seafood and meat options for those looking for something a bit heartier. The Yellow Fin Crudo is definitely a defining dish. Made with fresh yellow fin tuna and topped with chimichurri, sesame and chili oil, the dish was refreshing yet flavourful. The combination of all the various sauces really just lifted the tuna to another level. It’s a must have when you’re at Ten Foot Henry.

Sticking with the seafood theme, we also tried the Grilled Sardines with creamy yogurt, salted cucumbers and dill as well as the Crispy Skin Salmon with chorizo, mushrooms and avocado puree. The sardines had a nice smoky flavour from the grill which also allowed you to eat the most of the little bones within (since they’re served whole). It was a very nice rustic approach to the dish and I’m glad it’s made it on the menu. The yogurt was a surprising combination but the tanginess went well with it. The salmon had amazing crispy skin and I loved the idea of using avocado (going to be stealing this one). It was a very light dish and a good sharing portion.

There’s a great selection of sides to choose from ranging from Spaghetti cacio e pepe (meaning cheese and pepper) to handmade bread dumplings. We opted for my favorite Sidewalk Citizen Sourdough Bread which came with chimichurri for dipping. It was also great to use it to sop up all the delicious sauces which came with our dishes.

When the dessert menu came around, it was so hard to pick! How does one choose between cream puffs, butterscotch pudding and all the other wonders? I guess we had to decide (come back for the others later) and chose their famous Coconut Cake with toasted coconut, coconut milk and milk frosting and the Cherry Stuffed Pampushky. The coconut cake was super moist and not overly too sweet, it would be a great option for those looking for something sweet but yet still feels healthy. The pampushky aka doughnut had a cherry jam filling and dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with an English crème anglaise. I wouldn’t have minded a bit more crème anglaise, but overall it wasn’t overly too sweet either and did go well with the cappuccino.

Ten Foot Henry also has an interesting cocktail list, so we ordered the Cucumber Collins made with gin, lemon, cucumber, celery bitters and topped off with soda. It was quite refreshing. A nice way to start the meal and I could definitely see myself ordering it in the coming summer months. If you’re interested in wine, they also have a great wine selection for either single glasses or bottles to share.

My Picks: Collard Greens, Yellow Fin Crudo

Overall: It’s really nice to see a restaurant bring back a bit of Calgary history and couple it with new innovative dishes. The blending of the old and new is very refreshing and I love what they’re doing with the cuisine at Ten Foot Henry. I can’t wait to go back and sample all the dishes I missed that night and also all those delectable desserts!

Ten Food Henry
1209 1 Street SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 475-5537

Ten Foot Henry Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Preview of the 2016 Juno Awards Gala Dinner

>> Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Junos are coming to Calgary on April 2nd and last week I had the honor of previewing the delicious dishes conceptualized by Chef Roger Mooking for the 2016 Juno Gala and Awards Dinner. This is the Junos first ever celebrity driven dinner and it was truly an honor to be able to sample Chef Mooking’s creations.

All guests will be enjoying a wonderful start to their menu with the Tomato Surprise appetizer. Made with sweet sunset Campari tomatoes, which is always the top award winner for flavour, texture and color. The tomatoes are confit and served with the Chef’s own Nuh Gana sauce comprised of roasted red peppers, roasted garlic, white wine vinegar and olive oil all pureed together. Why is the dish called the tomato surprise? Well the tomatoes are actually hidden beneath a bed of butter lettuce, baby kale and arugula and topped with our own Sidewalk Citizen sourdough spicy croutes. When the guests start eating the salad they’ll actually find the tomatoes within and when they cut in to them, the tomatoes then also serves as part of the sauce for the dish. The dish is accompanied by the Brut Prestige sparkling wine from Napa Valley where the apple and vanilla notes pair perfectly with the tomato.

The main dish for the evening is the Blackened Canadian Rangeland Bison Tenderloin with chimichurri and parmesan crushed fingerling potatoes, grilled lemon and chili oil baby bok choy. This dish was an homage to Alberta’s local ingredients. The bison is marinated in a blackening spice and pan seared until medium rare allowing the meat to retain its delicious flavour while enhanced by the light coating of spices and the tanginess of the chimichurri sauce. It’s perfect with the addition of the charred lemon overtop to provide it that extra bit of zing. Paired with this dish is the Campo Viejo Rioja from Spain, full of cherry, plum and blackberry notes. The grapes are aged for 18 months in oak barrels and maintain a medium body as not to overpower the bison flavour.

The vegetarian option for the evening is a flavourful Herbed Mushroom Toast over Sidewalk Citizen Sourdough and served with the same delicious sides. Use of various mushroom varieties such as crimini, oysters and shiitake really brought out the various earthy flavours of the mushrooms. The dish was also finished with cannellini beans instead of cream which still provided that extra creaminess to the dish without added fat. A light and crisp New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is paired with this course. The Stoneleigh Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc plays nicely with the earthy mushrooms where the citrus and peach notes really shine and help lift the dish.

And for my favourite course, the Cracked Caramel and Brownies Dessert! Made with Phil and Sebastian espresso mousse, chocolate brownie chunks, sautéed bananas and finished with vanilla chantilly cream, sponge toffee and coffee dust. It sounds decadent which is it, but it remains light due to the fact that it was not overly too sweet. I loved the combination of the different textures and flavours and could probably eat the lot of this. It was truly a great way to end a meal!

In addition to the exquisite wine pairings throughout the meal two cocktails were created specifically for the event. The first cocktail “Cool with that” is made from JP Wiser’s deluxe Canadian Rye Whisky and similar to a play on the typical whisky sour. Next is the Polar Ice “Downtown”, a grapefruit inspired cocktail with lillet blanc, fresh grapefruit and polar ice vodka. Both drinks are easy on the palette and great for sipping throughout. For those looking for something different and inherently Canadian, Steam Whistle is the official beer supplier for the event and will be showcasing their famous pilsner, which is also one of my favorite go to beers.

It is no surprise that guests are in for a real treat this year. It truly is a great way to showcase Alberta and all the great food items we have to offer. Let me know if you’re interested in the recipes for each of these dishes or for the cocktails and I can make them available. Here’s looking forward to Juno week which begins March 28 to April 3!

All photos are courtesy of Nikolai Cuthill


Restaurant Review: One18Empire

>> Thursday, March 17, 2016

Cocktails have been making quite the come back the last couple years and it’s starting to define the type of food restaurants are serving on their menus. One18Empire which specializes in whiskey has really taken that concept and ran with it. A hidden gem located in the Marriott hotel in downtown Calgary, One18Empire not only showcases whiskey on their cocktail menu but throughout both their food and dessert menus as well. I couldn’t wait to dig in.

Atmosphere: Casual sophistication with elegant flare, loved the whiskey feature wall in the dining area which really draws the eye, perfect location for both groups large and small.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $20+

Food & Wine: I was really glad that there was a big group of us so we can taste quite a few different dishes ranging from appetizers to dessert. To start we ordered the Maple Bacon Wrapped Dates stuffed with gorgonzola and topped with whiskey syrup. You can never go wrong with anything wrapped in bacon and the sweet and salty combination of dates with bacon is always a winner.

Next up was the Seared Calamari. I really enjoyed this dish. It’s refreshing to see calamari prepared in a different way other than the typical battered and fry method. Here the calamari was served over a light tomato sauce and topped with a fresh fricassee salad and olives. The calamari was soft, not chewy and went very nicely with the different flavour profiles going on in the dish.

One of the favorites of the table that evening were the Weathervane Scallops which were cooked to perfection and accompanied by pork belly and a creamy polenta with grainy mustard glaze. I loved the contrast of pork with scallops and the creamy polenta, perfect texture and taste.

After our amazing appetizers it was really hard to pick and choose our mains. The server mentioned the Daily Feature which was the Ossobuco and we couldn’t resist. The veal shank was falling off the bone. I don’t even think we needed a knife to pull the meat apart. The portion size was also very impressive. Served with a bean casserole and fresh greens, it was quite the formidable meal. Everything on this plate was comfort food brought to the next level. I really hope they decide to bring it back again.

My favorite main that evening was the Braised Short Ribs over a bed of risotto and blistered tomatoes. I have a soft spot for short ribs, especially when they’re braised. It must be the melt in your mouth tenderness or the depth of flavour that the braising creates but I can never get enough of it. Couple this with the creamy risotto and tangy tomatoes and you’ve got yourself a winner. I probably could have eaten the whole dish if I didn’t have to share.

The group really enjoyed the Grilled Duck Breast accompanied by a root vegetable hash. The duck was cooked to medium and had flawless crispy skin with all the fat perfectly rendered. It was definitely a good sized portion and the root vegetable hash was a nice compliment to the duck. A huge hit overall.

Choosing dessert was even harder (since they were all such a great deal!) and ended up ordering one of each and I was extremely glad we did when they came. Starting with the rich and decadent One18 Triple Chocolate Bourbon Cake, which was perfect for sharing. I loved the use of dark chocolate here or else it would have been too sweet otherwise. It was velvety and smooth with just a slight hint of bourbon.

Everybody loved the Goat Cheese Cheesecake, creamy and smooth with a perfect amount of goat cheese flavour coming through. It was definitely unique if you’re looking for something a different. My favorite dessert was the Sticky Toffee Pudding with calvados ice cream. Not too sweet but utterly satisfying, the soft gooey cake was perfect with the creamy smooth ice cream, hot and cold all mixed together. Nothing beats a great sticky toffee pudding in my mind. And last but not least, my cousin got her Guinness Float, which she was craving since seeing the menu online. It was a full sized pint of…you guessed it Guinness! Topped with a nice big scoop of ice cream. This would be perfect for summer on the patio!

When you’re here don’t forget to sample some of their signature cocktail creations made with over 100 different types of whiskey they have on stock or if you’re feeling adventurous let the bartender help you decide.

My Picks: Weathervane Scallops, Braised Short Ribs

Overall: The food at One18Empire just blew me away. The portion sizes were more than generous and the flavours really do speak for themselves. I was really glad that I made it out and can’t wait to go back. I can see why it was named as one of Calgary’s Top 10 new restaurants for 2016! I can see this hidden gem no longer being hidden for long!

820 Centre Street SE
Calgary, AB
(403) 269-0299

ONE18 EMPIRE Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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