Restaurant Review: Buttermilk Fine Waffles

>> Wednesday, May 27, 2015

My favorite brunch item of all time is the waffle. No matter where I go, if there’s a waffle on the menu I’m ordering it. Any time is a great time for a delicious chewy waffle with just a touch of sweetness to satisfy my cravings. So when Buttermilk announced their opening, I was literally counting down the days till they opened.

Atmosphere: A café style eatery with modern décor in a relaxed setting.

Price Range: up to Mid $10s

Food: When you enter, you first place your order and then take a seat while waiting for the staff to prepare the waffles. After a quick peek at the menu, I knew immediately that I wanted to try the Rachel’s Cinnamon Bun waffle. I love cinnamon and there are few things that can rival a well done cinnamon bun. Since we were in a larger group that day, we definitely ordered a couple of those along with the Blueberry and Village.

It was quite busy and we were lucky enough to find ourselves a seat before shortly receiving our orders. The cinnamon bun came out first featuring their fluffy buttermilk waffle topped with cinnamon simple syrup, pecans and cream cheese frosting. It looked amazing and the first bite solidified it. The waffle was crispy on the outside but fluffy and chewy on the inside, lighter than the typical American styled waffles. None of the toppings were overly too sweet, which is always my concern when you see both syrup and frosting together. Instead they all complemented the waffle very well and tasted really delicious together. The pecans added a nice crunch to the plate and I’m glad they were there.

The Blueberry version comprised of the buttermilk waffle topped with fresh blueberry compote and crème fraiche. Again, the compote had just a hint of sweetness and my friends decided to order some maple syrup to accompany their waffle. We enjoyed the taste of the waffles with the blueberries together, it was definitely a classic combination done well.

Lastly we also tried the Village which features the waffle with village’s vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and topped with melted chocolate sauce. They were unfortunately out of the sticky toffee sauce, which I would have loved to try. Caramel and ice cream with a waffle! Divine! Guess I’ll have to save that for next time. The chocolate version was just as delicious. Nothing like eating ice cream for breakfast right? This waffle was decadent and it would be perfect as a dessert. In a flurry we almost forgot to order drinks, but luckily we did end up getting some Orange Juice, squeezed to order. It was extremely tasty and refreshing. The Phil and Sebastian Coffee was brewed well and tasted great with the sweet waffles. I’m excited to see how they expand their beverage selection as well as their waffle menu in the near future.

My Picks: Rachel’s Cinnamon Bun

Overall: After tasting their delicious waffle offerings, I’m really excited to see how Buttermilk is going to evolve their menu over the coming months. It would be great to see savoury options and the liege waffle make an appearance to open up even more dining choices.

Buttermilk Fine Waffles
330 17 Ave SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 287-9094

Buttermilk Fine Waffles on Urbanspoon


Restaurant Review: Hy's Steakhouse

>> Thursday, May 21, 2015

Working downtown, you can’t help but roam the Core Shopping Centre from time to time. Everybody needs a break now and again. However late last year I couldn’t help but notice that there was some major construction on the main floor of the mall and wondered what new amazing shop was going to be opening. How surprised was I when I found out that Hy’s Steakhouse was returning to Calgary! I still remember their old location and how everybody went there and knew they’d be served a delicious steak. So needless to say, I definitely stopped by to grab a bite when they opened.

Atmosphere: A nouveau modern interior with a dining area which opens up to the grill room, where you can witness the steaks being cooked in all its glory. The perfect combination of new and old school.

Price Range: $20s - $40+

Food & Wine: One can find all the great classics served at Hy’s like tableside Caesar salad and Banana’s Foster, so we couldn’t wait to indulge. To start we opted out of the aforementioned Caesar due to my entrée selection and went with the Wedge Salad. I really enjoy the freshness of wedge salads and find that they’re not offered much on menus anymore. This version had a creamy thousand island dressing with hints of blue cheese, adding a bit of punch to the iceberg lettuce and bacon combination. It was a great refreshing way to start off the meal.

I was excited for my main because I ordered the Steak Diane, which means tableside flambe of the steak. The beef tenderloin filet is cooked with Dijon and fresh mushrooms, lit up with brandy and then served with fresh green beans and potatoes. It smelled amazing when it was being prepared and I was excited to taste it. Since I like my steaks rare, I was surprised that the filet remained quite tender cooked to medium. The flavour of the steak wasn’t compromised but instead elevated with the mushroom brandy cream sauce. It was definitely a decadent dish.

The hubby couldn’t pass up ordering something from the grill and got the Bone-in Rib Steak. We both really enjoyed the char on the steak and it was cooked to a perfect medium rare, which allows the fat to melt and flavour the meat. Served with your choice of side, we decided on the fresh vegetables to balance out the protein heavy meal. We opted out of the Bananas’ Foster for dessert, seeing as I already got tableside service for the evening and decided on the Brioche Bread Pudding instead. It was soft and moist, perfect with the crème anglaise (a light syrupy custard aka English cream). The bread pudding wasn’t overly sweet and was a perfect ending to the heavier main courses that we had.

Wine for the evening was the Frog’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon, a good balance for the various dishes in our meal. The wine was dark and fruity with hints of coffee and chocolate notes. Medium bodied, with rich tannins and a full finish. There are many great wines available on Hy’s extensive wine list and the hardest part is deciding which one you want to order.

My Picks: Steak Diane

Overall: It’s great to see old landmarks in Calgary reinventing themselves without losing their identity. Hy’s Steakhouse has always been known for great steaks and that’s what they’ve continued to do. Only now, you also get to enjoy their luxurious dining area and lounge. What a great way to change things up.

Hy’s Steakhouse
751 3 Street SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 663-3363

Hy's Steakhouse on Urbanspoon


Restaurant Review: Suzette Bistro

>> Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ever since our early travels to France, I have been addicted to both sweet and savory crepes. There have been a couple places that have begun to serve conventional crepes but I have not been unable to find a place in town that served galettes, which is a crispier version of a crepe and made with buckwheat flour. They are normally served with savoury fillings and definitely more substantial. When I heard that the owners of Cassis were opening a restaurant in Mission that had both galettes and crepes on their menu, I immediately made a table reservation.

Atmosphere: The redecorated space now exhibits a brightened up minimalistic dining area. The French speaking servers adds to the authenticity where you could imagine being transported away. Due to the small dining room, be sure to make reservations.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $20+

Food and Wine: I highly recommend the Galettes when dining here. I had the opportunity to try the Norvegienne and Forestiere galettes. The Norvegienne featured leeks cooked in a cream sauce with slices of smoked salmon and mixed field greens. I really enjoyed the creaminess of the leeks when combined with the salty salmon, especially with the crunch of the outer edges of the galette.

The Forestiere consisted of a medley of mushrooms sautéed with garlic and parsley, also topped with mixed field greens. I am a huge fan of mushrooms and believe this galette exemplifies what it means to highlight the lowly mushroom. The lightly dressed greens on top adds a freshness and elevates the texture of this dish. Perfect with a nice glass of rose.

My husband was craving a burger and decided on the Suzette Burger, which comes with comte cheese, sautéed mushrooms, butter lettuce all smothered over a homemade medium cooked alberta beef patty. At Suzette, they like to serve their burgers slightly under, so if you’re not a fan be sure to let them know you want the patty cooked through. I highly recommend trying it cooked as per the kitchen’s directions. There’s just something special about a burger that isn’t cooked all the way through. You really get to taste the juicy of the meat plus it packs a bigger flavour punch. Even though the menu seems to list quite a few ingredients, they never overwhelm the flavour of the patty and the burger itself isn’t overly heavy. The side of french fries (which I couldn’t stop stealing away) and veggies are just a bonus.

I was really impressed with the selections of sweet crepes, ranging from simple to decadent without ever going over the top, just like how it’s done in France. The Bretonne comes with a simple drizzle of caramel and salted butter. Who doesn’t love salted caramel? Hitting all the right notes, it was quickly devoured. The Normande was a bit more extravagant, with apples caramelized in calvados (a brandy from lower Normandy in France) and a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. The apples themselves were amazing. They were so tender and sweet. The chewy crepe was the perfect vessel for those apples and the ice cream provided a nice sweetness balance.

My Picks: Norvegienne Galette, Normande Crepe

Overall: A perfect brunch, lunch or dinner location. Suzette, definitely does a galette or crepe right. There are definitely other options such as pasta or different mains, which I definitely need to try. I’m just ecstatic over the fact that we now have a place where we can stop in and grab a crepe or a galette whenever we want.

Suzette Bistro
2210 4 Street SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 802-0036

Suzette Bistro on Urbanspoon


Pho (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup) Starter Recipe (more so guideline)

>> Wednesday, April 29, 2015

In a previous post, I briefly mentioned how little I actually measure out ingredients when cooking savoury dishes. This makes it hard for me to share some recipes that I grew up eating or cook often at home. Although recently I had a friend ask me for my pho (Vietnamese beef noodle soup) recipe and I had to stop for a moment to think of what actually goes in to the broth. It’s become second nature in a way and sometimes I don’t even really think about what needs to go in to the broth let alone the quantities. My response to them was that I will post a recipe close to what I use at home but the taste of the broth will be something that they will need to taste and to test.

Recently I read a blog post from David Lebovitz where he states that the French does the exact same thing! They only cook to taste. Everyone adjusts flavours of the dishes a little differently and with a certain preference, which is why they don’t believe in recipes. Cooking is a form of art and depending on the artist and paintbrush (cook and ingredients in this case), the results can be quite different.

So here I’ve provided a guideline more so than a recipe on how to make your own pho broth. Hopefully you can take with it what you need and adjust it to fit your own tastes. This is a pretty basic recipe, feel free to add in some chicken bones to enhance the flavours, throw in some tendon or brisket if you enjoy them. Play around a bit, you never know what surprises you might end up developing.

Pho - Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

Broth Ingredients:

Beef bones
Daikon (radish), cut in to 1 inch sections
1 Onion, halfed
2-3 Cinnamon Sticks
1/2 cup Fish Sauce
Rock Sugar

Broth Preparation:

Place the beef bones in a stock pot (preferably 5L or larger) and bring to a boil.

Add in the daikon, onion and cinnamon sticks. Turn the heat down until the water is only simmering. Allow the broth to cook for 4-5 hours or more if you have time. I usually let me simmer for close to 6 hours or even a bit more if I’m prepping it on the weekends.

Once ready, add in the fish sauce, 2 2 inch sized chunks of rock sugar and allow it to dissolve.

Flavour the broth with salt until it is to your liking.

Pho Ingredients:

Rice Noodles
Beef, thinly sliced
Green Onions, chopped
Onions, thinly sliced
Thai Basil (optional)
Mint (optional)
Bean Sprouts (optional)

Pho Preparation:

In a separate pot, bring water to a boil and cook the rice noodles as per instructions.

Remove the noodles and place in a large soup bowl.

Cover the noodles with a thin layer of the raw beef.

Slowly ladle the broth over top the beef until it changes color (from red to brown).

Add green onions, mint, sliced onions and bean sprouts if using and enjoy!


Savoury and Sweet at Manuel Latruwe

>> Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Growing up I never had much of a sweet tooth. If you asked me about whether I preferred candy or chips, I would almost always go for the latter. Ever since I met my husband however, his sweet tooth seems to have slowly transferred over to me. Now we don’t usually have a meal without something sweet at the end. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing since now we balance each other out.

My husband never feels satisfied unless we start with something savoury so he ordered a Croque Madame and I had the Focaccia Baguette. I like that we can enjoy brunch dishes without having to fuss with the brunch crowds. His croque madame, which is made with toast, ham, a ton of melted gooey cheese and topped with a runny poached egg, was amazing melt in your mouth delicious. My baguette had slices of prosciutto, olives, roasted red peppers and bocconcini cheese served in their house made bread. I was surprised it wasn’t on a focaccia bun, but I guess that was just the name of the sandwich. I liked the taste combination but did the find the filling a bit sparse. However that is how it’s normally served in Europe where the bread is truly the star.

There are actually several different types of waffles and the ones we’re used to eating is the American waffle, where the texture is similar to a pancake. Over in Belgium, the two most popular forms are the Brussels or Liege waffles made from yeast leavened batter. The waffles served at Manuel Latruwe are Brussels waffles. Made with a lighter batter compared to the liege version, they exhibit a larger rectangular form with deep square pockets, a crispy outer layer and are quite thin overall. I could easily eat 3 or 4 of these waffles because of how light they taste. They were perfect with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, or in my case, some sweetened strawberries with a side of whipped cream.

Although we’re normally there for the waffles, we never leave without ordering additional goodies. You can’t go wrong with a Croissant or a Pain au Chocolat here. If you’re not shocked by how big they are, you can immediately see the layers upon layers of crispy pastry even before you take a bite. I am amazed at how crisp the outer layer of the pastry is without losing the chewiness on the inside. One of my all time favourites is the Hazelnut Twist. Just think crispy pastry layers with a delicious nutty filling throughout. I really like that it was nicely balanced and not overly sweet. I enjoy lighter desserts and found that this was perfect for me.

For those looking for something to take home, you won’t be able to miss all the amazing European styled cakes they have on display. If you call ahead you can also order specific flavours and sizes. They also offer many varieties of freshly baked bread ranging from sourdough to festive selections such as Easter or Christmas bread. I really enjoy that there are both savoury and sweet items at Manuel Latruwe for those that like a bit of both. There’s nothing better on the weekends (or even weekdays if you have the time) to visit and try some of their offerings. Since majority of the patrons are there to pick up items to go, there are plenty of tables available. Although now that I’ve let the secret out, I hope that remains the case.

Manuel Latruwe Belgian Patisserie & Bread Shop
1333 1 Street SE
Calgary, AB

Manuel Latruwe Belgian Patisserie & Bread Shop on Urbanspoon

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