Paper Lantern - A New Cocktail Bar in Chinatown

>> Monday, June 29, 2020


It’s so exciting that the weather has finally warmed up here in Calgary. We’re getting some crazy storms but I like to tell myself that the rain will only make everything more lush and green. With the warmer weather people are starting to wander outside again and I'm glad to see that some establishments have reopened.

Here in Calgary more restaurants have opened up and it’s great to see people being able to enjoy the patios and lounges again. There have been some new places that recently opened their doors, one being the new Chinatown cocktail bar Paper Lantern! I was extremely excited to hear that they would be serving Vietnamese inspired drinks and food in a cozy and contemporary space. Since most of us aren’t able to travel right now, it’s like they took a bit of Vietnam and brought it here to Calgary.


Previous to their opening I was able to sample some of their take home cocktail kits (these cocktails are now part of their menu) featuring house made mixes and even making their own hand carved ice. We ordered the Pandan Pina Colada, a play on the traditional pina colada

made with a special house made pandan coconut cream. If you’ve never had pandan before, it’s an amazing herb used in a lot of Vietnamese dishes. It has a very mild vanilla like flavour with hints of almond. It is one of my all-time favorite dessert flavours and I was extremely intrigued by the addition of it in a cocktail. It tasted exactly like a pina colada with hints of vanilla. Definitely refreshing and when we enjoyed it on our patio, it felt – for a moment, like we were on the beaches of South East Asia for a tropical vacation.


Another cocktail we ordered was the Tiger’s Tale. This one was darker using whiskey as a base along with their house made spiced syrup. It reminded me of a cross between an old fashioned and a manhattan. My husband really enjoyed it since those are exactly the type of drinks he would order when we’re out. This one transported us to one of the classy and sophisticated rooftop lounges we visited while on vacation.

We had a lot of fun tasting each of their cocktail kits and really can’t wait to try a couple more. Now that they’re open, we’re hoping to swing by and visit sometime (anyone want to babysit?). I am excited to sample some of their food offerings as well as the other cocktails on their menu. This is a great new addition to our Chinatown and since most of us are not traveling for the near future, this is a great way to experience something exotic without leaving town!

Please keep an eye on their Instagram and facebook page for operating hours and visit their website for the latest food and cocktail offerings.

Paper Lantern Cocktail Bar
Basement – 115 2 Avenue SE
Calgary, AB
(403) 457-7765
Website: paperlantern.ca
Instagram: @paperlaternyyc
Facebook: Paper Lantern

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My Comfort Food - Bo Kho (Beef Brisket) Noodle Soup Recipe

>> Wednesday, May 6, 2020


The media has been reporting that home baking and cooking has gone significantly up in the last little while as people are looking towards new hobbies to keep them occupied during these social distancing times. I’ve read that yeast, flour and other ingredients are flying off the shelves. Luckily for us we had a good stock of them at home but at the same time I think we’ve stuck more to the savory side of cooking, which has always been something that’d the family has enjoyed. Nothing beats a good ol bowl of noodles.

Due to the time we have at home we have been cycling through some of recipes that we haven’t cooked in a while. Those who follow me on instagram know that I tend to default to Beef Pho when we’re craving noodles or five spiced brisket noodles. However, we’ve been craving something heartier to help us transition through this rainy spring weather while self isolating at home. Enter in Bo Kho. A tomato based brisket noodle soup full of flavour and body in the broth.

My parents have always made this while I was growing up and was part of their noodle rotation so it was natural that I also have it as one of my noodle go tos. One difference is my parents never operated with a recipe and I really had to work on pulling one together to share with everyone. I often cook based on feel and a method...so please take the amounts of each ingredients as a suggestion and adjust as you see fit. Also if there’s anything you’ve done to make it taste closer to the Bo Kho you’re used to, please do share!

In any case, hopefully during this time aside from baking bread or cookies you can also dive in some savory cooking and enjoy yourselves some noodles.


Ingredients:

2lbs Beef Brisket, cut in to 1 inch cubes
3 tbsp Brown Sugar
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2Shallots or 1 small Onion, sliced
1 tbsp Annatto Seed Powder
1 tbsp Five Spice Powder
2 tbsp Tomato Paste
3 tbsp Soy Sauce
3 tbsp Fish Sauce
1-2 litres Water (also depends on how many servings you’re planning to make)
3-4 Carrots, cut in to large chunks
Optional: 2-3 Thai Chillies, halved
1 bunch Green Onions, chopped
1 bunch Thai Basil


Preparation:

Place a medium sized stock pot on the stove over medium heat. Once the pot has warmed up, roughly about 2-3 mins, add in about 1 tbsp of canola oil.

Slowly add in the beef brisket and let brown on all sides and remove from the pot, set aside.

Add in the brown sugar and let it melt. Stir in the garlic, shallot or onions. Sweat them until they are slightly translucent.

Pour the brisket back in the pot, add in the annatto seed powder, five spice powder, tomato paste, soy sauce and fish sauce. Stir until well mixed.

Add in water until it covers the brisket or however much liquid you envision would be required to obtain the number of servings.

Cover the stock pot with a lid. Turn the heat on high until the pot boils. Make sure to watch so it doesn’t boil over. Once it’s bubbling add in the carrots, thai chilies (if using) turn the heat down to low and simmer for 3-4 hours. Checking occasionally to see that the brisket hasn’t begin to disintegrate, the it’s gone too far.

When the tenderness of the brisket is at the level that you’re hoping to achieve, typically around 2-3 hours of simmering. Remove the brisket and the carrots but allow the broth to continue to simmer for another hour or so to develop flavour.

When about ready to serve, taste the flavour of the broth, you may need to add a bit more fish sauce, salt and some sugar to adjust the flavours to your liking. Add the brisket and the carrots back in to warm.

In a small pot, heat water to boil. Cook rice noodles according to packet instructions. Place in a small bowl.

Soop the broth along with pieces of brisket and carrots over top the noodles. Sprinkle on green onions and place some thai basil over top to serve. You can also add cilantro and other herbs on top of the broth if you’d like.

Enjoy!

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National French Bread Day with Sweet and Savory Crostinis

>> Friday, March 20, 2020

To avoid all the craziness in the news lately, I’ve been trying to keep busy reading up on other topics like neuroplasticity in the brain and making memories. It's fascinating information if you’ve never heard of it. The power of memories and how it can affect our happiness even years after creating that memory showcases how strong our experiences are. One of the best ways to form new memories and make them ever lasting is to make it multisensory or to do something different. The trigger for me has always our travels and how those moments made me feel.

One such moment that I recall is when we were staying in the Bastille area of Paris, it was an early morning and we just left our hotel looking for the first boulangerie that was open. After being in awe of all the amazing pastries and trying not to order everything, I decided on an apple croissant and a plain one. Out on the street, barely being able to contain my excitement I bit in to the first one, the memory of the buttery goodness and happiness I felt afterwards could not be contained. My boyfriend (hubby now) and I couldn’t stop smiling all the way to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Needless to say, that was the first stop every day the rest of the time we were there.

When I found out that March 21st is National French Bread/Pastry Day. I had to blog about it and share my experiences as well as a couple recipes to help celebrate the day because it holds a special place in my heart. I feel like these recipes would be perfect for a get together or as an appetizer. They're quick to assemble and definitely tasty.

Fig and Brie Crostinis

Ingredients:

1 fresh baguette (cut into 12 slices)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 tsp salt

4 oz. Brie cheese, plain, at room temperature

12 tbsp Bonne Maman* fig jam or any other fig jam you have on hand

12 slices of prosciutto

Fresh arugula

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Put slices of bread on a baking sheet, and brush generously with olive oil. Sprinkle a little salt if desired on each slice.

Bake for about 10 mins, or until crisp and slightly golden. Remove from oven and cool slightly.

Spread goat cheese on each crostini. Spread about a tablespoon of Bonne Maman Fig Jam on top of the goat cheese.

Fold the slices of prosciutto neatly and place on top of each crostini.

Lay fresh arugula leaves on top of each crostini to taste.

Makes 12 crostinis


Honeyed Ricotta Crostinis

Ingredients:

1 fresh baguette (cut into 12 slices)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup ricotta

1 cup raspberries or blueberries

12 tsp Bonne Maman* honey or honey you have available

Optional: cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Put slices of bread on a baking sheet, and brush generously with olive oil.

Bake for about 10 mins, or until crisp and slightly golden. Remove from oven and cool slightly.

Spread the ricotta on the bread and top with raspberries or blueberries.

Drizzle about 1 tsp of Bonne Maman honey on each crostini.

Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon. (I found this gave it a nice flavor kick)

Makes 12 crostinis

Moments like the one we had in Paris that day has always resonated with me. Now with kids, I am excited for them to share in those experiences with me. Especially in these unprecedented times, it’s especially important to continue to foster those fond memories. So why not make it multisensory with delicious food! Happy National French Bread Day!

*This post was not sponsored by Bonne Maman, they have provided the first photo and recipe.

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Foodies in the Park - Alice in Wonderland Pop Up Event

>> Friday, February 28, 2020

Calgarians tend to talk about the weather all the time. It’s an ice breaker for when you meet someone or just a topic at the watercooler. I’m not surprised because 1) it’s constantly changing – we can literally have all four seasons in a day no matter what time in the year – yes it really can snow in June. 2) winter lasts way too long – we’re pretty much guaranteed that for 8 months out of the year there will be some form of snow. Because of these things, Calgarians really look forward to the thaw.

Typically, Calgary begins to thaw out around April / May. The don’t necessary get the typical spring that other countries around the world experience however, it’s still better then minus -30ºC so I’ll take it! I know I’m excited and am already looking forward to some events in the spring. One particularly is the Foodies in the Park held at Fish Creek Park and hosted by the Bow Valley Ranch Restaurant and Great Events Catering.



It’s a popup dining event held in the park, where clear domed tents are set up featuring an Alice in Wonderland theme. Everything from the décor, plated dishes to the names of the menus. It truly sounds like a whimsical experience. I was lucky enough to get invited to participate in the menu tasting a little while back. There are 3 menu options and each option come with four courses. There’s a pescatarian (fish) option (The Fish Footman), a meat option (The White Rabbit) and a vegetarian option (Garden of Live Flowers). I really enjoy the name of menu’s because they reflect the Alice in Wonderland theme and when you choose your menu it reminds me of a choose your own adventure (not sure if anybody still remembers those books).




All three menus start similarly with Artisan Bread and Butterflies (which is a fun play on butter) I won’t completely ruin the surprises. Next is the salad course, An Invitation from the Queen, made with beets, mixed greens, goat cheese and a burnt orange dressing. It's a bit sweet and tangy, a really nice way to get the appetite going. Then it really diverts based on your selection. I got the Dodo’s Prize which is duck confit on a white bean puree with roasted onions and drizzled with a caramel citrus sauce. The second meat dish was the Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum Petit Filet. It was cooked perfectly, nice and tender and accompanied by buttered potatoes and greens in a black garlic demi glaze. All menus ended with the Who Stole the Tarts – a selection of handcrafted desserts by the chefs at Bow Valley Ranch Restaurant.




Each dish has been meticulously plated to fully capture the spirit of Alice in Wonderland. When you’re in the dome and fully submersed in the surroundings, you could almost imagine that this was what they were enjoying at the tea party during Alice’s visit with the Mad Hatter just sitting across from you. The domes were unfortunately not set up outside yet during the preview because the ground was still frozen and it was still quite chilly out. I’ll have a book a spot when the pop up occurs.



The pop up begins April 16 through May 17 daily. Talking about tea parties, there’s also an option to book an afternoon tea for those who were looking for something besides dinner. They offer the afternoon bookings on Saturday and Sunday at noon. With that experience comes a tiered display of freshly baked scones, daily crafted tea sandwiches and canapes and a signature selection of decadent French pastries and sweets along with choices of loose-leaf tea. I feel like the Mad Hatter should definitely be in attendance here.



With all these great events happening I’m truly looking forward to the weather warming up. You can bet that I’ll probably be talking about the weather just as much as the next Calgarian until the days we can soak up the sun in +20ºC and not have to lug around all our winter gear. Maybe I’ll go look at that dome booking now...

For 50% discount on dome bookings please reference BONNIEHUANG8

I am not an affiliate of Foodies in the Park or Great Events Catering, this was not a paid post or an ad.

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New Year, New Decade, New Health Goals with AOR

>> Sunday, January 26, 2020


A new year means new resolutions! However, it’s even more special this year because we’re also in a new decade making things a bit more interesting. Not only can you set goals for the upcoming year, you can look at the next 10! What a great way to work towards some long-term goals. I know from talking to friends and family that fitness and health are always a top priority on everyone’s list and I personally feel that some of the issues related to health is more than just a one-year goal. Some things take time and a lot of work to strive to be a better us.


So when I was asked at the end of last year to look in to DNA analysis for health I was extremely intrigued. I was able to work with Advanced Orthomolecular Research (AOR) - a local Calgary company - to gain a better understanding of how my genetics play a role in understanding my health and health goals. Essentially, I provided a quick saliva swab through their My Blueprint kit, sent it in and then AOR did the rest. They analyzed my DNA and provided 26 categories of health data ranging from Physical Fitness to Hormonal Health information. Most of the data was a confirmation on what I already knew, such as, eat less sodium, limit saturated fats but others were more intriguing like what types of exercise is best suited for my DNA profile and how to leverage how my body heals in terms of how to schedule my workout sessions. This along with things to watch out for like my thyroid, heart and sensitivities. I felt like I gained a new appreciation for the body that I have. I even convinced my parents to analyze their profile and we could definitely see some familial linkages there.

For me as a foodie, it was interesting that AOR also came up with mocktail recipes that feature supplements in a different light by making them fun! I was fortunate enough to be invited down to a session at their office where creative mocktails and presentations on the various research they’ve conducted on DNA information were shared. It was amazing to see some of the leading research that has utilized the genetics. It’s pretty exciting to think about how that knowledge would go to help individuals with genetic disorders.


I know often times people are skeptical of the information they provide through DNA but AOR is committed to protecting their client data and not disclosing it to a 3rd party. Of course it’s really up to the consumer for their comfort level. However, for me I did feel like the pros outweighed the cons and was able to help me gather more information about myself. Additionally, AOR was able to tailor a whole supplement plan for me based on my results. Including some pop rock probiotics. Who doesn’t like a bit of fun in their day to day like pop rocks? I feel like this has allowed me to pave a new path to health beyond just exercise and healthy eating. It has refocused me through how I perceive health on a day to day basis and putting self care at the forefront of my new goals. What’s better then working on mindfulness being present with myself over the next decade. It’s daunting to think that far but I feel like I’ve taken a step in the right direction in this new year of a new decade.

Here's a fun Mocktail Recipe that was shared by AOR:

Mag Synergy Margarita

4 oz lime sparkling coconut water
Fresh lime
1 scoop Magnesium Synergy
Ice
Salt mixed with cinnamon

Rub the rim of the glass with the lime slice and dip rim in salt and cinnamon mixture.

Shake the other ingredients with ice, then pour over more ice.

Garnish with lime and serve.

If you’re interested in finding out more about AOR, including the My Blueprint DNA kit and supplements please visit their website: aorhealth.com

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