Restaurant Review: Home Tasting Room

>> Friday, April 29, 2011


Tuna Nicoise

I am a list maker. I have to-do lists everywhere and for everything, at work, on my phone, things to do before I’m 30, places I must visit and most importantly: where and what I need to eat. It seems so easy to create these lists to keep everything prioritized even if some items remain on the list longer than ideal. One of those items was to eat at Home Tasting Room. I tried once, twice, three times, but something always came up. Something always comes up right? So finally I just cleared my schedule one weekend and did it. I was able to sneak in a dinner at ‘Home’ and invited a bunch of friends to join me.

Atmosphere: Open and sleek dining area with a cozy ambiance. Great for large groups or intimate dinners.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $20s

Ricotta Gnocchi
Food and Wine: One of the main features of Home Tasting Room is its small plates, which allows you to sample multiple different dishes and opens up many options for your dining experience. Since there was a rather large group of us, we were able to pretty much sample the entire menu, including the entrées (minus one or two dishes since a few people were particular about a certain type of ingredient). I’m going to highlight the favourites of the table.

I’ve heard of the Bison Tartar from a few different people, so that was one of the first things I tried. The truffle aioli went very nicely with the creamy tartar, especially with the nice crispy baguette, a must try if you’re there. Everybody agreed that the Ricotta Gnocchi was delicious. The gnocchi was pan seared, which gave it a crispy outer edge while still remaining soft on the inside and had a light mushroom and swiss chard accompaniment. The Grilled Flatbread was light and fluffy with a sweet topping of roasted peppers, fennel and creamy ricotta mixed with peppery arugula. None of the toppings overwhelmed the dish and came to a nice balance without being heavy

Short Ribs
For the entrees, I enjoyed the Duck Breast, which was seared to a perfect medium rare and served over a bed of “cassoulet” risotto. The risotto was creamy without being overly heavy and was perfectly seasoned. Everyone agreed that the Arctic Char was very delectable. Adding the quinoa salad was a nice touch. Finally the Braised Short Ribs were fall off the bone tender, soaking up the mint salsa verde sauce which was served with scalloped potatoes.

Artic Char
The best part about sampling all the dishes is always the end where we get to taste all the different desserts as well. The house-made Truffles graduated in richness and darkness of cocoa, creating a slow flavour progression from creamy white chocolate to a twist on the classic dark while hitting all the different flavour notes. Definitely a nice pairing with red wine. It was a neat idea to have house-made Donuts and Coffee on the dessert menu, each donut is coated with a light dusting of cinnamon and sugar, perfect for a rainy day. The Chocolate Brownie, Crème Brulee and Italian Cream Cake were all devoured as well, but were more on the expected side as desserts go, but still a great way to end the evening.

Chocolate Brownie
As for wine, there is a good selection of old world and new world wines on the list. We decided to go with a bottle of the Marchesi Gondi Chianti San Guiliano to start. It went well with the dinner, pairing the oaky notes with our meat heavy dinner. Next we had a bottle of the Canaletto Pinot Noir, which had fruitier notes, less tannins and a soft finish.

My Picks: Ricotta Gnocchi, High Country Bison Tartar

Overall: I feel so accomplished now that I’ve been able to scratch a few items off of my to-do lists, including making it to Home. However, I’m sure it won’t be the last time I visit though, since I heard that they’re coming out with a new menu soon, plus the food was fantastic. Guess it’s going back on that list again. See, it never ends. Can’t say I don’t try though.


Home Tasting Room
110 8th Avenue SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 262-8100
Website: http://www.hometastingroom.ca/

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Healthy Creamy Shrimp Penne Recipe

>> Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Seafood Penne

Since I’ve been running so much lately, I’ve been getting some pretty bad sugar cravings which was another way my body was telling me that I wasn’t getting enough carbohydrates in my diet. I figured it was time that I needed to rectify that situation since I couldn’t keep raiding my pantry every night for candy and goodies. So last week after work I took a quick peek in my fridge to see what I had to work with, there really wasn’t much.

I have a good explanation for that. It’s been a while since I’ve been to the market because my husband was out of town and my parents have been more than willing to cook, there really was no need to. Ok, so I was lazy and didn’t go to the supermarket myself, but at least I was cooking myself dinner and not just going back to the parent’s again.

In order to satisfy my carbohydrate calling with what I had and the time I had before my stomach digested itself, I decided on a quick and seemingly indulgent recipe (the creaminess makes you think that). Using light cream cheese to substitute the original full fat heavy cream and cheese sauce used to make regular creamy pasta sauces, it really lightened up the whole dish. Plus, it made for a healthier dish without losing the taste and texture of regular creamy sauces.

Nutritional Tidbit: Recent research has been conducted on pasta and the effects it has on the Glycemic Index, which are extremely important to those who have diabetes because it tracks the affects of certain foods on insulin. It was once said that pasta was high on the GI chart (carbs usually equates high, eg. Rice, Wheat, Gluten, etc.), but it’s not the same for pasta. It is said that the form of gluten in pasta is said to be slow digesting and doesn’t create the sugar spike that other carbohydrates do. Especially when pasta is cooked al dente because of the increased digestion process (it slows down absorption because the pasta is harder to digest). Now coupling this with whole wheat, you can see why this would keep you full longer and not cause a spike in sugar within the body.

The best part about this recipe is how quick it was to pull everything together to make a full fledge meal in under 20 mins. While the pasta is cooking, you have 13 minutes to prep and make the sauce. You’ll be eating before your stomach grumbles again! Everyone can be happy to know that I didn’t eat more candy that night!

Shrimp Penne
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups penne pasta (whole wheat or regular)
1/2 cup low fat Philadelphia cream cheese
6 tbsp low fat plain or Greek yogurt
1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers, sliced
1/4 cup frozen green peas
8-10 large frozen precooked shrimp or uncooked
Salt and pepper

Preparation:
Bring a pot of water to boil on the stove with 2 tsp salt. Add in the penne pasta, turn down the heat to medium and let simmer for roughly 13 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a small sauce pan over low heat, mix the cream cheese and yogurt together. Add in salt and pepper to taste. Add in the shrimp and let it cook until defrosted (or until pink if using uncooked shrimp).

Once the shrimp is ready, add in red bell peppers and peas. Mix in the penne until the pasta is coated with the sauce.

Remove from heat and plate.

Makes 2 servings.

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Restaurant Review: Brasserie Kensington

>> Friday, April 22, 2011


Mussels Frites and Escargot

Why is it that Calgarians tend to eat dinner at 6 or 7 pm? Actually I find that most North Americans eat dinner early, unlike our European counterparts that eat at 8, 9 or even 10 pm. I remember when I was in Paris last year and a couple asked us for the time while we were eating because they had dinner reservations at 9:30 pm and so started my curiosity as to why North Americans need their dinner so much earlier. I’m not going to lie, I usually eat early too, but after a long day of work and working out, I need my fuel and the evening to relax. So it was nice to take advantage of a Friday and arriving a bit later for dinner at Brasserie Kensington. A new hot French restaurant, where better then to adopt a later dinner hour!

Atmosphere: A upscale trendy pub style restaurant with an authentic French brasserie feel along with an amazing vibe. It does get a little boisterous, so caution if it’s the first date.

Prices: Mid $10s – $20s

Food and Wine: Once we were seated and started browsing the menu, I realized how many different combinations of food we can actually create with the menu. My eyes kept wandering and I found it hard to look at one particular area in the menu (but it could also be because I wanted to try a bit of everything that I read!). There were appies, entrees, sides, dessert (whose eye doesn’t land on dessert first?). Finally the group of us decided to try a bunch of appetizers and then move on to a bigger entrée to share (we did get enough willpower to leave the dessert till later).

Foie Gras
First up was the Escargot with a porcini mushroom cream sauce and toasted baguettes. The sauce was lovely and we all found ourselves scooping it up with the bread. The combination of mushrooms and escargot is classic, definitely something not to mess with and in this case it worked very well.

Our Mussels in saffron cream were cooked to perfection. Saffron is a remarkable spice and can brighten up any dish and this one was not any different. The mussels were sweet, working nicely with the creaminess of the sauce. The pomme frites that were served along the side came with a house made tomato ketchup, which was much appreciated by the table (went well with the potatoes we had later as well).

The Foie Gras Torchon came with a nice fig compote to offset the gaminess of the foie. You could really taste the creaminess of the liver contrasting with the sweet figs and the crispy baguette. I did find the foie a little more gamey then usual, but I am personally more sensitive to gamey meats then others.

Pork Hock
I really enjoyed the Duck Confit from Noble Farms. It was very flavourful and well seasoned. The drumstick was cooked to perfection and fell off the bone. The mushrooms were a nice touch as well.

For our main we decided to share the Smoked Alberta Pork Hock. If you’ve never had pork hock, I highly recommend it and definitely here at Brasserie Kensington. I would align the meat to a nicely braised short rib. If done correctly, it should fall off the bone and have soaked up all the amazing flavours of the cooking liquid, which is exactly what this dish at the Brasserie did. Served with a thick and I mean “thick” cut of pork belly (aka bacon...mmm), weisswurst sausages, sauerkraut and mini roasted potatoes. This dish is meant to feed a really hungry twosome. I don’t often rave about how big certain dishes are because often I get told how big a dish is going to be and am underwhelmed by the actual size of it. Not this time, we were warned and I was surprised.

After our all our lovely savoury dishes, we were ready for a sweet ending to the evening. We started with a very French dessert of Banana and Chocolate Crepes and a second dessert of the Brasserie Strudel which was served a la mode. The desserts were a nice ending. Thinking back to the dinner they wouldn’t be the first thing that pops to my mind, but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t devoured quickly that night.

Crepes and Strudel
Everything ended up pairing extremely well with the Pinot Noir that we chose that evening. Brasserie Kensington's wine list is short and sweet. It's easy to select a wine and if you need any assistance the servers are more than willing to give you a few good suggestions!

My Pick: Escargot, Smoked Pork Hock for 2

Overall: An amazing non typical North American meal full of different parts of the duck, pork and even snails. What better way to enjoy a unique dinner then at Brasserie Kensington and while you’re at it, try a different dining time, since the restaurant stays energetic well in to the night!

Brasserie Kensington
100, 1131 Kensington Rd NW
Calgary, AB
(403) 457-4148
Website: http://www.brasseriekensington.com/

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Restaurant Review: Teatro Restaurant

>> Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Oyster with tobiko


April is going by in a blur and when I started to look back I could barely recall what happened at the beginning of it all. I had to stop and think hard and wonder, how did I let time get away from me like that? Then again, I’m sure I’m not the only one. Project deadlines, meetings, phone calls, emails and next thing you know…it’s Friday again, then another one and another. Not that I’m complaining about a Friday, no no, I would never do such a thing. However I’d like to look back and remember what I did on each of those short but amazing weekends, so what better way to do so then to relax and enjoy a long evening meal with people that you love? Food always makes things better right?

Atmosphere: Located in a historical Calgary landmark building, with a grand dining area and white marble façade perfectly fitted for a lovely Italian style menu.

Price Range: (normal menu) Mid $20s - $30+ (tasting menu) $95

Bison Carpaccio
Food and Wine: The menu presents so many different options that we found it hard to decide on what we were going to have for dinner. I had a particularly hard time since I wanted a little bit of every dish plus the daily chef and rotisserie specials. So with a bit of perusing, we ended up going with the Chef’s Tasting menu and let them take care of our needs rather then having to choose for our own.

Teatro’s tasting menu consists of 8 different courses, which changes daily based on what the chef’s freshest ingredients are for that day. We were warned that it would take roughly 3 hours to complete the meal, but we weren’t in a rush that evening (something you should reconsider if you are). They’re also very accommodating of dietary needs if you’re lactose intolerant or have food sensitivities. There is also an option to get the wine pairings for each course, but I was already drawn to the Chianti Classico’s by then (my new found addiction) and ordered a bottle of the Felsina before we decided on said meal.

Seared Scallop with Chorizo
Before our meal began, we were also served an amuse bouche with smoked salmon over a crunchy crouton. The waiter also graciously brought out (which would be more then once before the evening was over) some lovely focaccia bread, which can only be described as fluffy and melt in your mouth goodness, as well as a soft chewy roll for those who preferred something a little different.

Our first course was an exquisite raw Malpeque Oyster with sweet jelly and tobiko. I’ve never had tobiko on top of my oyster before and the texture contrast was interesting. I’d definitely have to try it again at home. Up next was a Bison Carpaccio served with a sweet balsamic reduction, olive oil and baby spinach. The balsamic enhanced the sweetness and tenderness of the bison.

Lobster with Squid Ink Pasta
Moving on to the entrée plates of the evening, we had a perfectly Seared Scallop with a slice of crispy chorizo sausage over sprouts, Belgian endives and a raspberry vinaigrette. I could definitely have just eaten this dish all night due to perfect flavour contrast between the chorizo and scallops. For our pasta dish, we were served a Squid Ink Pasta with Lobster in a garlic pesto sauce. Not your traditional pesto, but for garlic lovers such as myself, I need to start making pesto this way from now on. The pasta was a little above al dente but not overcooked, however the lobster wasn’t as sweet and juicy as I would have liked.

The fifth course continued with the seafood theme and came with a Seared Ahi Tuna with a tomato, fava bean salad and a side of arugula pesto. I preferred the garlicky pesto, but the tomato ragu was perfectly seasoned and a bit spicy which was a nice addition to the dish. The tuna itself was a little dry, not sure if it was the treatment of the piece of fish itself or whether the kitchen received it that way, but I’d have to say it was an easily forgettable tuna dish.

Seared Ahi Tuna
For our sixth and last entrée course, we were served a Beef Short Rib au jus with marinated beets. The short rib was fall off the bone tender and the beets were soft and juicy. The jus wasn’t overly salted, which I preferred

For our last two courses, we were served a cheese (for the husband) and a fruit platter (for myself) and two lovely desserts. Since I didn’t taste the cheese, I couldn’t really attest to what it was, but my husband seemed to have enjoyed it since there was nothing left on the plate. The apple jam that came with the cheese was tangy and went well on the platter (or so I was told). My fruit was perfect. The Mango Sorbet and Chocolate Marquise (think a creamy mousse), were both light and wrapped up our meal nicely. However, I probably could have still used a big pie but that was because I was just craving something really sugary at the end of my meal that evening.

Braised Short Ribs
My Picks: Seared Scallop (not always on the menu, but it was the chef’s special dish for the evening as well).

Overall: Our meal was a very nice end to a very hectic and busy week. It’s often that we forget that we have to slow down amist this crazy world, so it’s definitely a great idea to relax, sit back with a lovely bottle of wine and some amazing food created by a wonderful chef (you can tell how long we were there considering the darkness of the last photo!).

Chocolate Marquise
Teatro Restaurant
200 8 Ave SE
Calgary, AB
(403) 290-1012
Website: http://www.teatro.ca/

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Chicken Shawarma with Garlic Sauce

>> Friday, April 15, 2011


Chicken Shawarma

You can always find yogurt (greek or plain) hiding somewhere in my fridge. It’s a staple in our house like salt and pepper. And I’d like to think that there are almost as many uses for yogurt akin to salt and pepper. There’s so many that I can’t even list them all. Or can I? I’ve used yogurt in dips like traditional tzatziki to replacing tahini in my hummus. Yogurt has popped up in my baking of banana breads and soufflés to panna cotta. Often times I substitute yogurt for milk, which I just did over this past weekend in my quick rise cinnamon buns or use it instead of sour cream in cheesecake. Last but not least I can’t forget all the savoury uses for yogurt as well. A good example of that would be the marinade for chicken shawarma (ok so I didn’t list them all, but I get easily distracted).

Like buttermilk for fried chicken, the yogurt lends the chicken a creamy tangy taste after marinating, tenderizing the chicken while keeping the meat nice and moist. I can see why it’s so highly used in Middle Eastern cuisine. If you use low fat versions, you’re also making the marinades healthier without actually having to change the recipe.

Although this recipe takes a bit of time for the chicken to truly absorb the marinade, it can still be done in only a couple of hours, if you're in a time crunch. An alternative to cooking in this the oven would be to use a skillet on the stove top. This would narrow down the amount of marinating time since the sauce will be cooked right in to the chicken, almost like braising it if you will.

So now you know why I always have to have yogurt on hand because you never know what I’ll be craving or in my house, where the yogurt can be hinding in my recipes!

Chicken Shawarma
Chicken Shawarma Recipe: (a slight twist from the traditional recipes)
Ingredients:
Marinade:
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup plain low fat yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pepper

Preparation:
In a medium sized mixing bowl, add in yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, allspice, salt and pepper.

Rinse chicken and place in marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, best if it can be left overnight.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350ºF.

Line a 9x13” tray with aluminum foil and place chicken thighs in to the dish. Try to avoid having the chicken overlap.

Cook for roughly 20-25 minutes. If you want the chicken to be slightly brown, turn up the oven to 500ºF and let it cook for 3-5 minutes. Keep an eye on your oven, you don’t want to over crisp and burn the chicken.

Remove and serve with garlic sauce (recipe below), hot sauce, warm pita, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, onions. Whatever you enjoy on your shawarmas!

Hot Sauce on Chicken Shawarma
Garlic Sauce Recipe: (Not for the faint of heart)
Ingredients:
1 bulb of garlic
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp low fat yogurt

Preparation:
If you want a milder garlic sauce, roast the garlic bulb before hand. Place garlic in 350ºF oven for roughly 15 minutes or until garlic is soft and butter-like.

Place the garlic in a good processor and puree until smooth. Add a bit of olive oil at a time until you get a white creamy texture. Mix in salt and lemon juice. Dependent on the texture of the sauce you might only want to add in one tbsp of the yogurt to lighten up the sauce or if you like a thinner sauce, add in all the yogurt. Mix and serve with shawarma.

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

>> Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Boxwood Sticky Toffee Pudding

Article first published as Sticky Toffee Pudding on Blogcritics.

After looking at some of my recent blog posts, I've come to realize that restaurants everywhere are starting to offer Sticky Toffee Pudding as a dessert option. Fantastic right?

There is nothing better than warm buttery sticky sweet goodness! However I was shocked to hear that not very many people were aware of the fact that the ‘pudding’ in Sticky Toffee Pudding didn't actually mean pudding at all!

It wasn’t until one evening when I was out with a good friend of mine perusing the dessert menu after a lovely dinner, when she made an off-handed comment about not being in to puddings, did I realize that she didn’t know what a sticky toffee pudding was (it was hard to stay friends after that comment! Ok, I kid, I kid). So after I ordered my dessert, I opted to start her off with a taste and a story of what it actually was. Although I wonder if she was listening since she was more intrigued with the cake at this point then in me, but I digress.

Sticky Toffee Pudding is actually an amazingly moist melt in your mouth cake, which used to be only found in England at most British establishments, but recently has exploded on to the North American foodie scene. It originated from the Southern part of the British Isles, but nobody knows for sure where its roots lie. So as for coining the dessert a pudding, you see, the British term their cakes puddings because that’s what they’re use to referencing as something sweet or dessert like. It really has nothing to do with puddings at all. Well not what we North Americans would call pudding, which is more atuned to a custard. It’s really all part of Brits and their slang.

The cake itself is made from dates, butter, brown sugar and infused with a lovely creamy, buttery caramel toffee sauce. At the end of the baking process, the toffee sauce is poured right on to and in to the cake itself to allow the sauce to seep in to every nook and cranny within. This step is crucial in making the perfect pudding and protects the moistness and melt in your mouth feel which is achieved from this step or else it would never be considered a true sticky pudding. When served you also pour a bit of the lovely toffee sauce overtop to get the truly decadent indulgent final product that’s well deserving of its name. Of course it would also have to be served warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side for contrast. Plus who doesn’t love a warm dessert with melting vanilla ice cream overtop?

So here I share my own version of this lovely decadent dessert! Now that we all know what this Sticky Toffee Pudding is all about, maybe there will be more adventurers out there enjoying this import from the Brits. I know my friend has converted and hopefully some of you will as well. I’m pretty sure once you have though; you’ll never look at the word pudding quite the same. Just make sure you don’t eat it all, I still need to keep up my quota!

Fuze Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe – Bonnie’s Version

Ingredients
Pudding:

1 1/2 cups pitted dates, chopped
1 cup water, hot
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Toffee Sauce:
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350ºC.Grease 9" cake pan

Place dates in pot with water and bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the dates. Remove from heat and puree dates. Stir in baking soda and let stand for 15 minutes.

Beat butter with brown sugar until creamy. Add in eggs one at a time and beat until smooth then add in vanilla until combined.

Sift flour with baking power, spices and salt. Slowly add to wet batter. After dry ingredients are all incorporated, using a spatula, gently fold in pureed dates.

Spoon in to cake pan, filling about 2/3 full and bake for about 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

While puddings are baking, prepare sauce. Melt butter, stir in sugar and then cream and simmer until the sauce thickens, roughly 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

After removing the pudding from the oven, let it cool for about 10 minutes, prick the top of the pudding with numerous holes using a toothpick. Spoon some of the toffee sauce over the pudding and allow it to soak in.

To serve, cut in to 3-4" slices and top with more sauce and ice cream. Best served warm.

Enjoy!

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Restaurant Review: TroUgh Dining Co.

>> Friday, April 8, 2011


Amuse Bouche

Earlier this year my husband turned the big 3-0 and due to his hectic work schedule we couldn’t travel somewhere special to celebrate his milestone day. I was slightly disappointed at first because I wanted it to be truly special (since we only ever get to celebrate these birthdays once in our lifetime) and was already planning his surprise trip, which had to be cancelled. However, I soon realized that it’d still be special even though we weren’t leaving the country to celebrate it because we’d be together (have I made anybody feel nauseous yet?). Plus, we live in this great part of the country where we’re literally 1 hour away from the gorgeous Rocky Mountains. So after a few quick searches, we were headed out to Canmore for his surprise birthday weekend, which started with a dinner the famous Trough restaurant.

Atmosphere: Cozy and welcoming with a perfect cabin setting, great for a special intimate dinner, catching up with friends or just warming up from the cold with some lovely vino.

Price:
Mid $30s

Food and Wine: After being sat down by the friendly waiter / owner of the restaurant. We were offered a nice amuse bouche to start the evening. It consisted of a creamed goat cheese spread served a top a crunchy housemade chip with mint and raspberries. Definitely a nice surprise, especially when they brought out the complimentary housemade flatbread shortly afterwards. The bread was warm, chewy and served with a citrusy olive oil dip.

Scallops

Without much deliberation, we knew what we wanted from the menu and shortly afterwards our appetizer arrived. The Pan Seared East Coast Organic Scallops were crusted with toasted white and black sesame seeds, served with a carrot ginger puree and a nice carrot slaw. The sweet chili sauce was a nice addition, adding a depth of flavour to the delicate scallops. However, we did both agree that the sesame seeds were a bit powerful for the subtle flavours of the scallop.

Up next were our mains. I had the AAA Alberta Beef Tenderloin, seared rare with an herb verde sauce, a huge panko crusted truffle potato cake and greens. I barely had to cut in to my tenderloin it was so perfectly cooked and when I had my first bite, the meat literally melted in my mouth. I was truly amazed at how well flavoured it was. The panko crusted potato cake was crunchy on the outside, yet creamy on the inside with a nice aroma of truffles. My husband was in awe of the caperberries that they served along side the herb verde sauce since he loves capers and anything to do with them. I thought the herb verde sauce complimented the steak well.

Alberta Tenderloin

My husband ordered the Kalamata Olive Crusted Rack “O” Lamb. He thought it was cooked perfectly however he did enjoy my tenderloin more than his lamb. I had a few bites of his plate and decided on the same. However I really enjoyed the creamy mashed potatoes that came with his meal.

When the server asked if we wanted dessert, it really didn’t take me long to respond since Sticky Toffee Pudding was on the menu (I believe I can start blogging purely on all the places where I’ve had sticky toffee pudding, I wonder if anybody would read it? Although it would make me very hungry all the time, but I digress…). Between our main course and my anticipation of dessert came a complimentary palate cleanser consisting of a light passionfruit sorbet. It was refreshing and if it wasn’t for the sticky toffee pudding, probably would have been enough for me to call it a lovely evening and head off, but of course I could never do that.

Sorbet

Soon enough appeared my lovely pudding and how quickly I dug right in. The cake was moist and sweet without being overly so and always goes well a la mode. There really isn’t anything I could say that’s bad about sticky toffee puddings so I’ll just leave it at that.

We stayed a bit longer to finish off our lovely bottle of wine, which I wanted to highlight since they have a very nice list of wines featured at the restaurant. We ordered a bottle of the La Posta Malbec, which accompanied our meal well without overwhelming the scallop appetizer dish. What intrigued me about my vino experience at the Trough was the fact that they aerated our wine by passing it through a wine aerator and in to a decanter. It was a very nice touch and definitely helped “open up” the wine and helped it “breathe”. This made the malbec very velvety and smooth, pairing nicely to our meal from beginning to lovely end.

Sticky Toffee Pudding
My Picks: Flatbread, AAA Alberta Beef Tenderloin

Overall: The food, wine and personable servers helped launch our weekend of to a great start. Everything was memorable and special. Who said we had to look far for something different and exceptional?

TroUgh Dining Co.
725 9 St
Canmore, AB
(403) 678-2820


Trough Dining Co. (Canmore) on Urbanspoon

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Restaurant Review: O Shima

>> Monday, April 4, 2011


Mango Roll

There’s seems to be a ton of different coupon sites like Groupon and Dealfind popping up all over the internet. It’s an ingenious idea to allow people to try different things that they might otherwise not normally do. Ranging from bootcamp classes, to manicures and facials to restaurant offers. I have to admit that I’m guilty of purchasing more then a couple of these “groupons” myself and many of them having to be food related. What better way to enjoy new restaurants or even some of your all time favourites while saving a couple of bucks? One of these deals brought me to a little sushi restaurant that I wasn’t aware existed just off of the main area of downtown 17th Avenue called O Shima.

Atmosphere: A small casual restaurant, great for quick bites and smaller groups.

Price: up to Mid $10s

Food: Like all sushi restaurants, O Shima offers both a raw menu and a cooked menu (for those who haven’t quite ventured to the realm of uncooked fish). When it comes to sushi, I usually enjoy the traditional nigiri sushi (traditional hand form sushi, what you’d think sushi should look like) and sashimi. However, when I’m new to a restaurant I enjoyed also trying some of their house special sushi rolls.

Volcano Roll
We ended up ordering several of the special rolls since they sounded quite unique. Starting with the Volcano Roll, this consisted of spicy tuna, green onions, masago, avocado, tempura flakes, fried onion, cucumber and a mango sauce. I’ve had all those elements in separate rolls before but never together and it was interesting. I quite enjoyed the mango sauce, giving the roll a tangy sweet flavour. However, I didn’t notice the tuna to be very spicy. Since I enjoy my food a bit more spicy, the server offered to bring us some additional hot sauce on the side.

Next we had the Mango Roll, it was very similar to the Volcano Roll except it didn’t have the spicy tuna element and used salmon instead. I personally enjoyed this version better, which I didn't expect since I usually enjoy spicy food more. It could be that the spicy flavour didn't really work with the mango for me. I would probably order the Mango Roll again in the future and skip the aforementioned Volcano.

The third roll we sampled was the Fire Dragon Roll and I’d have to say it was my favourite out of the three. Containing shrimp tempura, tobiko, cucumber, avocado, salmon, tuna, masago, chili peppers and a spicy mayo, it definitely had all elements of crunch, spice and flavour. I also enjoyed the variety of fish as well.

Fire Dragon Roll
To round out our meal we also ordered a seaweed salad (tasted pretty typical), sashimi platter (decently sized) and shrimp tempura (a little soggy, not the typical crunchy batter which I’ve come to associate with Japanese tempura).

My Pick: Fire Dragon Roll

Overall: We had great service at O Shima, the waiter was very attentive (seeing as he was the only one serving the entire restaurant, we were a little apprehensive seeing some of the past reviews) and the food was pretty decent. I would go back for the rolls and maybe try a couple of my favourite nigiri sushi as well and the best part was we got it all at a discounted price. What a deal indeed!

O Shima
1448 A 17th Avenue SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 457-5577
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