A Weekend at YYC Airport Marriott

>> Friday, February 2, 2018

It’s been a long winter so far. Normally we’d be traveling to try and escape the cold or at least make it a little shorter and more bearable but this year between the craziness of work and the fact that we’re expecting a little one soon. Traveling wasn’t in the cards. However, we did have a bit of a reprieve when we were invited to the new airport Marriott for a fun weekend event! I thought it was brilliant! A nice little staycation to make us forget that we’re still in the city without the hassle of actually flying.

When we checked in to our room we were greeted with fun instructions for a Rocky Mountain cocktail featuring park distillery vodka. The concept was that we would mix the cocktail ourselves with locally sourced ingredients and paired with some sourdough with fixings from Marriott’s own Yakima restaurant. I thought it was a fun way to introduce people to Calgary, a nice little welcome gift for those who just want to kick back a little when they enter their rooms and just take in the surrounding scenery of YYC airport and view of the incoming and outgoing flights.

The itinerary was packed from the start with a tour of the facility followed by a welcome reception with their bourbon suppliers, Maker’s Mark. As part of the evening we got to try and make our own bourbon cocktail. Sadly for me I am a gin girl and negronis are my go to. Not to mention that I’m pregnant and drinking was pretty much beyond my control. None the less it was a ton of fun playing around with the flavors in my head to see what might work out. Needless to say, we didn’t win the friendly competition but it did make me miss a good drink! Afterwards we were treated to an amazing spread of appetizers from their Yakima restaurant which included sliders, charcuterie like housemate beef jerky, pickled veggies, smoked chicken wings and more. To accompany the food, they served up some all-time bourbon cocktail favorites like the old fashioned, manhattans & whiskey sours. People also got to try the barrel select bourbon along with other vintages to really get a feel for the differences that age makes. We decided to make a night of it!

The next day, we woke up and headed downstairs to Yakima for their buffet breakfast. As parents, it was nice to be able to wake up whenever we wanted opposed to having a child alarm clock. At our leisure, we strolled down and grabbed a bite. I went straight over to the pastry table and enjoyed that there was a nice selection of various pastries to accompany the savory portion of my meal. Who doesn’t need a nice pastry or two or three in the morning? If you don’t have much of a sweet tooth, they also offer a nice select of breakfast items to get your started like bacon and eggs or even oatmeal. For those wanting something a bit more substantial, you can order off their breakfast menu which includes Eggs Benedict, Lemongrass Salmon or an Alberta 5 Egg Omelet.

Afterwards, we all gathered awaiting our ride out to Cochrane to visit the Half Hitch Brewery, another local partner (Marriott carries their beers on tap, so you can try it in the city without having to venture out to Cochrane). Once there, we were taken around on a tour of their facilities to learn a bit more about their brewing process. It’s always nice seeing a microbrewery compared to their large counterparts, you can see the heart that goes in to every step of the process and the care that’s given to their product. After the brewery tour, we were treated to some amazing drinks, appetizers and mains at the restaurant. My favorite was definitely the chicharrons, those deep-fried pork rinds were nothing short of amazing. Topped with togarashi spice, they had just the right amount of spice and a good amount of crunch. I’ll definitely be heading back for those! Next our mains were served and I got to try their housemade burger with thick cut fries. I thought they went very nicely with their Fire N Fury beer. The caramel notes matched well with the charbroiled flavor of the burger, but one thing I couldn’t stop eating were the crispy thick cut fries.

After lunch we were trekked back in to the city with our bellies full and happy. To work off some of that food, everyone was to meet up for a scavenger hunt that sent people in all directions across YYC airport. Unfortunately at this time we had to call it a weekend and go pick up our child who had gotten sick over the past day. Parental duties calls! But the rest of the party got treated to a surreal dining experience that evening at Yakima starting with a cocktail reception and ending with a night cap in their lounge. The menu itself was definitely outside the box and I’d love to see some of that on their regular menu as well…foie roche anyone? Just think foie gras packaged as a Ferrero roche chocolate. Who doesn’t love foie? Who doesn’t love chocolate? Perfect pairing. There was a huge selection of dishes so definitely something for everyone. Not to mention that dessert was something straight out of a Michelin star restaurant. As I mentioned, I hope that they start hosting events with a similar theme or chef’s tasting menu that really bring the experience to the next level like what was showcased that evening!

It truly was a little getaway for everyone and it helped me forget how bitterly cold our weather was that weekend. It reminded me that we could simply “getaway” by going to a new location and trying something different. So if you’re looking to switch up your routine and get away from the winter blues why not head up to the airport but not actually fly out. Instead just hang around, check out the new Marriott and what they have to offer. Try a staycation for yourselves!

*Hotel photos provided by the Marriot YYC


Restaurant Review: Donna Mac

>> Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Hello 2018. You came a lot quicker than I anticipated but I feel like this happens every year. January comes and I’m floored that it’s a new year. There’s going to be quite a lot of changes coming in 2018 and we’re excited. However, we have a couple people that we know moving away and we’re sad to see them go. With that we needed a place to celebrate their last days in town and I was surprised that there were so many great news choices that happened to have popped up in 2017. One of those places is Donna Mac, offering up amazing gluten free and vegan options that don’t taste like what you think! I was lucky enough to have a chance to sample some of those dishes and I was blown away.

Atmosphere: Large open concept dining room with a beautiful interior that feels airy and bright.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $30+

Food & Wine: What a way to kick off the night. The Fingerling Potatoes, one of my favorite dishes of the night or ever! The standout was definitely due to the use of porcini mayo. The earthiness of the mushrooms coupled with the sea lettuce, potatoes and topped with more king oyster mushrooms was a winner. I am still talking about this dish, so I really hope they don’t ever remove it from the menu!

Next was the Scallop Tartare with kholrabi, cucumber, herbs, horseradish and poppy seed. It was a nice contrast to the potatoes since it was a bit lighter and refreshing. I enjoyed the use of the cucumbers and kohlrabi to give it a bit more texture since scallops themselves could be mushy to some.

Last of the small share plates we tried was the Grilled Endive served over a buttermilk soubise topped with trout roe and dill. It bitterness (which I enjoy) coupled was mellowed by the buttermilk and use of dill. I liked how the endives themselves were charred adding that smokiness that elevated the flavours.

With a brief pause to catch our breaths we then moved on to the main dishes of the evening starting with the Duck Breast, perfectly seared with red kuri squash, pears and chili. Everybody around the table was quite impressed with the succulent cook on the duck itself and the flavours melded perfectly with the accompaniments.

The Short Rib was the quintessential comfort dish that night. Served with jalapeno and cheddar potatoes, it was melt in your mouth tender. The use of cheddar in the potatoes, which were amazing smooth, did not compete with the short ribs but rather made it even more decadent. I could see myself eating this all winter long.

For those that want something delicious but without protein, the Wild Mushroom Risotto would be a good option. The risotto itself is creamy and rich, so you would feel the need for added protein. Plus, its topped with lots of radicchio and apples to provide some texture and crunch. I thought it would even be enjoyable as an addition to other dishes on the menu.

Our last main dish was the Pork Belly and its unlike any other pork belly dish I’ve had in the past. This one is served with sake steamed clams, seaweed salad with fermented rice in a lovely flavourful broth. Pork belly and broth you say? Yes! And it works! The fusion of Asian flavours is amazing and really makes you wanting more. Another standout dish!

To end the evening, we were served two desserts, a take on the smore and a play on a pumpkin pie. Both were not overly sweet and for those that are gluten free, the smore is made with an in house rice paper that emulates the cracker! It was a nice way to wind down our sumptuous meal.

My Picks: Fingerling Potatoes, Pork Belly

Overall: Even if you’re not vegan or gluten free, you’d still enjoy the tasty cuisine offered at Donna Mac. They have something for everybody on their menu. Maybe some of their comfort dishes can help you forget the cold outside and focus on all the great new things 2018 will bring!

They also have an amazing selection of cocktails ranging from delectable before dinner selections such as DMGT (Donna Mac Gin and Tonic) to after dinner selections such as For the Kids made with henessey, yellow chartreuse and st. Germain. Don't be afraid to be adventurous!

Donna Mac
1002 9 Street SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 719-3622
Website: donnamacyyc.ca

Donna Mac Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Caramel Popcorn Monkey Bread Recipe

>> Wednesday, December 20, 2017

We’re well into the thick of Christmas preparation around here and just like every other year I’m debating on what type of baking I want to do. I was inspired to do something a little bit different this year but still playing with a classic – Monkey bread – a delicious cross between pull apart bread and cinnamon buns. One of my husband’s favorites. To change I up a bit, I decided to mix in a bit of caramel corn to give it a bit of crunch and texture. Who doesn’t love the combination of caramel, cinnamon and sugar!

So here’s my recipe where everything for the monkey bread was made from scratch except the caramel corn which I used G.H. Cretors delicious old fashioned styled caramel popcorn. I find that adding the caramel corn gives it that little something extra. The corn really soaks up the caramel and provides little flavor bombs when you’re eating the monkey bread. Let me know what you think!

Caramel Popcorn Monkey Bread

1 1/8 tsp yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp water
1 cup white sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 cups caramel popcorn
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar


In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the 1/4 cup of warm water. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.

Measure out the flour and salt in the mixing bowl, add in the yeast mixture and the remaining water.

Knead the dough until it all comes together and is no longer sticky.

Set aside and allow to rise until the dough doubles in size.

When the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees fareinheit.

Grease a 9” rounded pie pan or you can use a bundt cake pan.

In a small bowl mix together the white sugar and cinnamon.

Roll out the dough in to 1 inch pieces and place into the cinnamon sugar mixture until the ball is covered.

Place the ball in the grease pan. Intermix a bit of caramel popcorn after each piece of dough.

Repeat with remaining dough and set aside.

Heat up the butter and brown sugar in a small sauce pan over low heat until melted.

Pour over the entire pan and place the pan in the oven for 35 minutes.

When you remove the pan from the oven you can flip the entire pan upside down on a plate. Top with additional caramel popcorn and serve (or you can just spatula the whole thing out and top with additional popcorn like what I did!).

Or conversely you can serve individual portions and top with ice cream for a little something extra!



Restaurant Review: Two Penny

>> Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Now that it’s November I feel like Christmas is in full swing and I don’t think I’m quite ready for it yet. Don’t get me wrong, I love everything about Christmas but admitting that its’ just around the corner means that 2017 is officially coming to an end. 2017 was an amazing year and I don’t think I’m ready to close that chapter. Luckily for me I got to add a bit more excitement to 2017 by attending a dinner tasting of the new highly anticipated Two Penny restaurant that opened on 1st street.

Atmosphere: Beautiful chic interior with an amazing vibe perfect for grabbing a drink with a quick bite or indulging in the full menu experience.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $30+

Food & Drinks: We were truly treated to an amazing meal where we got to sample a fair amount of the menu. Needless to say, we were extremely full but happy at the end of it all! Since there is so much to cover I’ll just provide the highlights as much as I can even though I want to talk about every dish in detail. Off the Snacks portion of the menu we tried the Baked Oysters, Sichuan Cold Chicken and Black Mushroom Salad. The standout for me was the Baked Oysters with black bean mayo, chili breadcrumbs. They were quite unique and the creaminess actually worked well with the oysters rather than overpower them.

Next was the Dumplings with the infamous Xiao Long Bao (XLB), Shrimp Wontons with chili garlic soy sauce and Chinese Cabbage Potstickers with chive and egg. I thought they were all good choices, the XLBs were soupy and the potstickers were crispy while the wontons were nice and spicy.

From the Chef Specialities we had the spicy Cumin Lamb Ribs, Mapo Tofu and Beef and Broccoli dish. The ribs would be perfect with an ice-cold beer, while the tofu and the beef reminded me of homemade comfort food. Something I could find in my parent’s kitchen. The tofu dish was flavourful and zingy with the addition of Szechuan peppercorns, while the wagyu beef was tender and literally melting in the mouth.

If that wasn’t enough food already, we were treated to their Roast Half Duck served with milk buns, in house made hoisin sauce, cucumber and scallions a la peking duck style. I love peking duck so I was all for this dish, but I did miss the traditional wraps possibly because I really enjoy the chew that the wraps provide which the buns didn’t provide. Don’t get me wrong though, I do love me a good fluffy bun, but there's just something special about the wraps.

Dishes just like the Smoke Mushrooms, Wok Fried Mixed Vegetables and the Special Fried Rice with shrimp, duck, pork, egg and bone marrow (which is to be mixed in tableside). I really enjoyed the smoked mushrooms, again a different take on a simple ingredient which really allowed it to shine. The mixing of the bone marrow in to the fried rice was also interesting definitely not what you’d except in your fried rice.

Although it was quite a full menu, we just couldn’t refuse the dessert. Starting with the Taro Wafer Chestnut Cake to Coffee and Doughnuts with Vietnamese coffee ice cream and ending with Portuguese Egg Tarts. My favorite of the three was definitely the play on coffee and doughnuts, the doughnuts themselves are traditionally eaten for breakfast in a savoury style, but here Two Penny chefs have dusted them with powdered sugar added ice cream and the works to make this a stand out dessert.

To accompany their amazing food selections are some delicious cocktails and you have to try them. With names like the Appletini 2017, 3 years in the making, how could you resist? I went with the Cocktail #7 made with gin, rice wine, strawberry, chili, thai basil and lemon. Light and refreshing, its perfect for gin lovers everywhere.

My Pick(s): Baked Oysters, Chinese Cabbage Potstickers, Smoked Mushrooms

Overall: Although we are approaching December and 2017 will eventually come to a close, I’m glad that there are all these great new places that have opened up this year so we can continue devour delectable dishes regardless of the time of year. Two Penny has definitely hit its mark serving a more traditional style of Chinese dishes albeit for a bit higher of a price point than what I’m used to at Asian restaurants, but you are also paying for the surrounding and atmosphere which are definitely outstanding. Here’s to continuing the celebration with delicious food and amazing drinks all year long!

Two Penny Chinese
1213 1 Street SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 474-7766
Website: www.twopenny.ca

Two Penny Chinese Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Restaurant Review: NOtaBLE

>> Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October has been a crazy month for us. My son, my mom and dad were all in various stages of illness. So needless to say it was hectic trying to accommodate everyone’s doctor and hospital visits. It just felt like a never ending train of issues. So it was amazing to be able to get out one night and be able to enjoy ourselves at Notables, a nice little oasis in all the madness happening around us.

Atmosphere: Cozy restaurant setting with a family friendly atmosphere. Perfect for a dinner date or a delicious meal with friends and family.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $30+

Food & Wine: Even before we ordered I knew I wanted something from the Rotisserie. If you haven’t heard of Notable’s rotisserie then you’re definitely missing out! They are known for their “Happy Chickens” which are slow roasted on their wood fired grill. If you don’t have time to dine in, you’re in luck! The rotisserie chickens are available for take out, so be sure to check it out! Since it was Sunday while we were there, the feature was the Porchetta! Therefore we decided on smaller starters so we don’t get too full before the main.

Of course we had to get an order of the Wood Fire Grilled Bread with Garlic Confit. The bread is so fluffy and perfect with the roasted garlic. Even my 1 year old loved it just maybe without the roasted garlic for him. Next was the Brant Lake Waygu Beef Carpaccio with peppercorn aioli and served with arugula and multigrain toast. They really kept the flavours of the waygu beef intact. The arugula with the lemon added the peppery tartness. I did find that there was a generous helping of aioli, so I sparingly added it to the beef to ensure it didn’t overpower the taste, which worked out well. Another light start to the evening.

One of the new menu items was the Calabrese Campanelle Pasta with BC Clams, salami and roasted garlic in a tomato basil sauce, which sounded amazing. For those that don’t know, campanelle pasta is little pastas shaped like cones with ruffled edges, making them a perfect vessel for the tasty tomato basil sauce. I really enjoyed the addition of the sweet BC clams and the salami.

Now on to our main, The Heritage Breed Porchetta Roast with a smoky eggplant spread and sautéed vegetables. The porchetta itself was super tender and you can definitely tell that it was slowly roasted because it was melt in your mouth delicious. It was without a doubt the start of the dish. I also enjoyed the vegetables and other accompaniments but even if they weren’t there the porchetta would have still been satisfying. So glad we ordered it!

At this point we were beyond full but couldn’t resist something sweet to end the evening so we ordered just the Ginger Gelato which normally accompanies the Carrot Cake. It was a perfect end to the evening. Cool and refreshing with a hint of sweetness, the gelato was the proverbial cherry on top.

My Picks: Heritage Breed Porchetta Roast

Overall: Everybody had an amazing time that night including my son who just got better from his cold and was able to eat some of the delicious food. I often forget that there are amazing places outside of the core and this is one of them. The best part is, if you’re too busy to dine in and it’s crazy (like the month we had) you can always take the food to go! They call them happy chickens for a reason!

4611 Bowness Rd NW
Calgary, AB
(403) 288-4372
Website: notabletherestaurant.ca

NOtaBLE Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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