Seafood Linguine

>> Friday, April 27, 2012


Now that the weather is warming up, I’ve started to limit my indoor treadmill training and increased my running outdoors. It’s a great way to soak up some vitamin D while exercising, getting the both of immune boosting vitamins and mood improving endorphins all at once.

Of course with this increase in cardio, I’ve noticed that my body is constantly craving sugars. In any form. It’s really easy for me to sit back and just scarf down a bar (or two…or three) of chocolate. However, the healthier more mature side of me has realized that it stems from a deeper need of getting the right fuel for my body so I can better perform. As much as I’d love to eat nothing but sweets and pastries all day, in order to up my performance while training I decided to cook myself a nice pasta dish instead (then end it with sweets, but that’s a blog for another time).

When it comes to pasta, I enjoy nothing more than the accompaniment of seafood and when it comes to seafood, I don’t like heavy creamy sauces. I like to keep the flavours of the seafood intact and really let it shine through on its own. Because of that, I opted to go with a Seafood Linguine with a light white wine sauce. The flavours of the tomatoes provide a bit of tartness and tanginess that compliments the seafood. If you use a nicer white wine, you can also pair it with the dish and be assured that it will go well together.

This is also a great meal to have a day or two before a big race, since the carbs in the pasta will ensure that your muscle’s glycogen stores are full and ready for the challenge. At the same time the protein in the seafood will provide the building blocks required to heal up any wear and tear on the muscle’s you’ve developed from training.

Of course this recipe works well for those of you who aren’t training because really…who doesn’t love pasta anyhow?


Ingredients:
1/2 box of linguine pasta
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped or use a bit less if using dried herbs
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped or use a bit less if using dried herbs
1 tsp chili flakes
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
8 mussels
8 clams
6 medium shrimp
Salt
Pepper
1-2 tbsp butter (optional)
Parsley, chopped

Preparation:
In a large stock pot, add in water, 1 tbsp olive oil and a good amount of salt. Bring to a boil and add in the linguine. Cook for 8-9 mins or until al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside. Do not rinse because the starch thickens up the sauce at the end.

In a skillet over medium to high heat, add in 1 tbsp of olive oil and stir in onions. Cook for 2 mins and add in the garlic. Cook until the onion becomes translucent.

Add in tomatoes, herbs and chili flakes and then the white wine. Let simmer for 3 mins before pouring in the chicken stock.

Allow the flavours to build, taste and adjust with salt and pepper. Once the flavours are where you want it to be; add the seafood.

First add the mussels and clams to the broth, let it cook for 5 mins before adding the shrimp. Once the mussels, clams open and the shrimp begin to curl you can turn off the heat. The residual heat will be enough to finish the dish.

For an extra bit of creaminess you can drop in a tablespoon or two of butter, which is completely optional if you wanted to keep the broth healthier.

When ready, put the pasta in to the sauce, stir and allow the pasta to soak up some of the flavours of the broth.

Plate, top with parsley and serve! This recipe makes enough for 2 people and is very easy to double up for 4 or even more. Enjoy!

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Banff Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival Ticket Giveaway!

>> Tuesday, April 24, 2012


It’s time again for the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival, which is being held in Banff on May 4 - 5, 2012 at the Fairmont Banff Springs. It’s a great time to sample the best that Banff has to offer along side some amazing wines and spirits. Even better when you make a weekend getaway out of it! 

I have a set of tickets to give away for the Saturday May 5th Afternoon Session from 2-5pm (they are entrance tickets only, sampling tickets will need to be purchased). Please let me know if you’re interested in the draw, either through twitter (@ScrumpFitFood) or reply to this post. I will announce the winner of the free tickets next Monday April 30th.

For those who are interested in attending the other sessions, I’ve posted additional information below. The tickets to the events are selling out fast (Saturday evening session is already sold out), so be sure to pick them up soon!


The Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival Returns to Banff
Sip, Sample, and Savour at the Fifth-Annual Celebration of Banff's Finest Fare

BANFF, AB, April 19, 2012 /CNW/ - It's time to once again celebrate the world of epicurean and spirituous pleasures during a festive weekend in Banff National Park.

Recognized by TripAdvisor's 2011 Traveler's Choice Awards as one of Canada's top 10 food and wine destinations, Banff will play host to the fifth-annual Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival May 4 - 5, 2012.

The Festival will feature a sizzling array of culinary offerings, Friday through Sunday, throughout the town of Banff. The main event will be the Grand Tasting Hall at The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel - Conference Centre, where samples of the finest local cuisine will be specially prepared by the area's top restaurants over the course of three tasting sessions. In addition to all the fine food fare, Festival-goers will have the opportunity to sip an extensive selection of unique wines, high quality ports, fine single-malt scotches, premium spirits and import and micro-brewed beer.

"Banff is truly one of Canada's culinary capitals and the official home of Canadian Rocky Mountain Cuisine", says Julie Canning, President & CEO of Banff Lake Louise Tourism. "The Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival perfectly showcases the gourmet talent in Banff National Park."

It's the perfect opportunity for a weekend visit to Banff or Lake Louise, as local restaurants will be adding to the excitement, hosting a variety of unique and tempting side events from rib cook-offs to lobster boils to winemaker's dinners to clambakes.

"Not only is there a fantastic sampling of local restaurants and tasty sips in the Grand Tasting Hall, but many of the restaurants, hotels and venues have also created special events throughout the weekend. Banff is just a short drive for many Albertans, so there's plenty of time to hop in the car after work and catch Friday evening's tasty festivities," says Cathy Miller, Festival Director.

Grand Tasting Hall event tickets are available online at www.banfflakelouise.com/wine-food for $27, or $30 at the door based on availability. Sampling coupons are available for purchase onsite for $0.50 each.

Grand Tasting Hall - The Fairmont Banff Springs Conference Centre

Friday, May 4, 2012 - Evening Tasting Session 7-10pm

Saturday, May 5, 2012 - Afternoon Tasting Session 2-5pm

Saturday, May 5, 2012 - Evening Tasting Session 7-10pm

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Interactive Mondays at Casel Marche

>> Thursday, April 19, 2012


After several months of back and forth through email with the organizers of Interactive Mondays at Casel Marche, I was finally able to get a hold of my schedule and attended the event. Since I booked it in February, I would see it every time I looked at my calendar and couldn’t wait for the date to approach, which felt like forever. Of course when I wanted the time to fly, it didn’t. So when the right Monday finally rolled around, my husband and I fought our way through downtown traffic and off to Casel Marche we went.

When we arrived, there was already a group of people at the J. Webb Wine store, the retailer that provided all our libations for the evening. They also offered several wines for tasting. Apparently this happens monthly and there are different wines featured each month. We were able to sample a 2009 Schloss Reinhartshausen German Riesling, a 2010 Domaine Serol ‘Les Originelles’ gamay from France, a 2009 Mastroberardino ‘Lacrimarosa’ aglianico rose from Italy and a Nebbiolo (which I didn’t quite catch the name of). We’re generally red wine drinkers but both my husband and I were very impressed with the Riesling and had to pick up a bottle right away.


Before we sat down for dinner we also got to tour Market 17. They were the providers of all the ingredients for our meal that night. We’re no strangers to the market, picking up items that are unique only to that location, also for some Sidewalk Citizen baked goods and Vie Café treats. We learned that they’re also willing to bring in items on specialty order. So if you’re looking for a specific ingredient and can’t seem to find it anywhere, check out Market 17. They might just solve that hankering for pickled harissa smoked jellyfish (if that is your thing).

Pierre Lamielle author of Kitchen Scraps (I highly recommend his cookbook, great fun to read) was the guest chef that evening and prepared us a wonderful meal, which we got to enjoy in Cassis Bistro’s dining area (for those who haven’t been to Cassis, don’t wait…run there and order the Paris Brest dessert if its available). The meal consisted of 3 courses showcasing the spring season. The first course was a light Fennel Apple Radish Salad with blue cheese dressing. Everybody agreed that it was refreshing and tasty. It had the perfect hint of blue cheese taste without overwhelming the palate, which I find is often the case with such a strong cheese. The natural marriage of apple and fennel brought forth both sweet and earthy flavours, all of which were accented by the crisp radishes.


Our second course was termed a Green Risotto, topped with savory ratatouille. After hearing Chef Pierre described the dish, I learned that the green was obtained from extracting the chlorophyll from the parsley and mixing it in to the base of the risotto. It provided a slight hint of herbaceousness to the base of the risotto where all the flavours just built on top. The rice was cooked al dente and provided that much needed texture against the creamy sauce, while the ratatouille gave the dish a salty character. I soon realized that each perfect spoonful had to include a bit of the tasty ratatouille.

Dessert was a smooth and silky Avocado Panna Cotta, topped with a tangy lemon syrup. The tartness of the lemon was a distinct contrast against the buttery avocado, which brought the dessert to new heights. Without the lemon it would have been similar to other panna cottas, soft and rich. However the lemon added the needed kick, preventing the dessert from being overly sweet and had me craving for more.


As an encore to dessert, we were also treated with Gluten Free Nanaimo Bars and Organic Chocolate from the market. I made a mental note to pick up a couple of each as we were sampling them. Dark chocolate with quinoa, orange dark chocolate and mint dark chocolate, who can say no to any of those?

Aside from the wines we started with at the beginning of the night. J.Webb also paired our meal with a La Vis Storie Di Vite Pinot Grigio. It was clean and crisp with hints of pears and grass. The PinoG complimented the risotto nicely, refreshing the palate after every bite, so I could enjoy each spoonful like I did the first. It also highlighted the other dishes we tried that evening as well, since they were all lighter akin to the spring season.


At the end of the meal, we were introduced to the different partners that own and operate Casel Marche and we were allowed to purchase products offered by each of the vendors at a discounted price. I meant to pick up a list of items (mentally adding to it as the evening went on). However we got a bit sidetracked chatting with the owners, learning about their backgrounds and what led them to pursue this venture. It was a neat story indeed. It’s refreshing to meet people who have a passion for what they do and understand the value they’re bringing to both the community and this city. It wasn’t my first time at Casel Marche and after meeting the individuals behind such an innovative concept, hearing their stories and experiencing the hospitality, it definitely won’t be my last (I still need to pick up that list of items)!

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Restaurant Review: Rush Restaurant

>> Thursday, April 12, 2012




I have another dinner date coming up with some of my closest friends soon and it reminded me of the last time we all got together. I’ve known some of them for more than 20 years. Growing up with them every step of the way! All through school we supported each other, be it good times or bad times, we were always there for one another. Even now when we’re all working and on different schedules, we tend to find time to meet up and reminisce. Even though it’s not nearly as easy now compared to when we were all still in school, but everybody makes a tremendous effort to keep in touch especially when we know good food and fun times are involved. This time at Rush was no different!

Atmosphere: Contemporary and elegant, with an impressive dining room which truly showcases both art and design.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $30+


Food and Wine: It has been a while since our group got together for dinner and when we usually get together, we try to taste everything! For starters we were able to sample almost all of the appies, the ones that resonated with me included the Duck Confit and Foie Gras Ravioli. It came as a single ravioli serving, which was a bit hard to share, but it was large enough that everyone got a couple bites and got to enjoy the velvety foie and duck. It was accompanied with earthy shitake mushrooms, creamy celery root and a tangy red wine jus. The Seared Sea Scallops had a nice charred outer layer without being overcooked on the inside. I enjoyed the sun chokes and bison which gave the scallops a nice texture contrast.


Majority of the group decided to order fish that evening and I was able to sample both the Ahi Tuna and Sablefish. The sablefish was pan seared, with a nice crust served with squid ink fettuccini a light dashi ginger sauce and fresh baby bok choy. The tuna was nicely rare in the center with a thin pepper crust, which was accented by the parsnip puree and horseradish foam. My entrée that evening was the Rack of Lamb, being the only person who ordered red meat, I didn’t regret my decision on bit. The lamb was done a perfect medium rare (I wouldn’t have it any other way) served over top autumn vegetables, perfectly smooth chickepea puree and a sweet port jus.

Our trend of trying almost everything on the menu continued with dessert when we ordered one of each. My favorite was the Chocolate Mousse with chocolate sorbet and raspberry coulis. It was decadent without overwhelming my palette and went very well with our wine. I’ve never been a bit fan of crème brulee, but I also never turn down dessert. The Trio of Crème Brulee that evening was espresso, vanilla, and peanut. Each pot was light and I believe was the crowd favorite that night. Next up was the Citrus dessert with meringue and a light sorbet. It was definitely refreshing, but I’m not a huge citrus dessert fan. Last but not least was the Rush S’mores with hazelnut ice cream. It consists of a thin graham cracker crust on top of slightly toasted marshmallows and a dusting of chocolate. The marshmallow itself was creamy, but I really enjoyed the hazelnut ice cream and wished there was more of it even if it was served by itself.


Our wine that evening was a relatively inexpensive bottle, but provides a bold complex flavours. The Dona Paula Malbec is my go to wine, when I want something I know will be big in character but without the price point. It tastes of berries with a peppery finish. Long smooth tannins and a nice medium to full body. The wine complimented my lamb well and accented the chocolate dessert perfectly.

My Picks: Duck Confit and Foie Gras Ravioli, Rack of Lamb


Overall: I’ve had the opportunity to visit Rush several times now and each time has surpassed my expectations in both flavour and service. Now that I’ve conditioned myself to great food and great service, how can I not come back with my amazing friends? If not anything, what are friends for but being able to share with one another remarkable experiences!

Rush Restaurant
100, 207 9 Ave SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 271-7874
Website: http://www.rushrestaurant.com/

Rush on Urbanspoon

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Restaurant Review: Craft LA

>> Thursday, April 5, 2012



Growing up in an Asian family, eating dinner together every evening was a must. Everyone had to be at the table and the dishes were always served in the middle and shared amongst everyone. It was a time used to catch up and bond as a family. To me, this was the norm. It never even occurred to me that not everybody dined like this and definitely not on a daily basis. That most often people ate with a plate of food in front of the TV or on the go. The so called “family style” dining, only ever occurred during celebrations or gatherings. Needless to say I was shocked at first, but now that I’m older and time is more limited, I realize how easy it is to fall in to those habits. However, I tend to make an effort to follow in my family’s footsteps and dine family style everyday with my husband. So it’s even more special to me when I go out to restaurants that allow me to do that and Craft LA is definitely based on that concept.

Atmosphere: A beautifully open and warm dining area with large windows highlighting a neutral wood accented interior.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $40+


Food and Wine: After being seated and admiring the warm color tones especially under the great dim lighting, we ordered and it was fairly shortly afterwards that our server arrived with the amuse bouche of Leek and Potato Soup. The soup was creamy and light, the leek bringing a bit of brightness and contrast to the dish. It was just the right amount to start off the evening.

Since the concept of all of the Craft restaurants is to serve the food family style, our appetizers came in that fashion. Lucking out and having it be LA dining week, Craft served all of their appetizers as the first course instead of having their patrons pick and choose and I’m glad they did. I would have hated missing any one of these dishes. The first appetizer was a Chicken Liver Mousse served with crispy shallots and house made crisps. The pâté was smooth and flavourful. There was a good amount of it as well and it lasted us the whole evening, not because we didn’t like it, but because I was trying to preserve eat bite. The Blood Orange and Fennel Shrimp were extremely light and sweet. The shrimp cooked to perfection and really allowed to shine is the tangy sauce. The Wintergreen Salad with gorgonzola and walnuts was something special indeed. We’ve never tasted such amazing greens during the winter. They were crisp and crunchy, had a very nice texture and flavour that I have never tasted before and we’re still wondering why type of leaves they were!


Since the portion sizes were so generous, we were already satiated, but there was no holding back. We continued on to our mains. I ordered the Short Rib Ravioli served in a mushroom broth. The dish came with three big raviolis covered with pecorino cheese. Every bite was a burst of flavour, the earthiness of the mushrooms complimenting the soft tender short ribs and al dente paste shell. The husband ordered the Skate Wing, which was super crispy contrasting perfectly with the parsnip purée and sweet swiss chard. Both were amazing in their own unique ways and I wished I had a chance to try the rest of the mains because they all sounded incredible. We also ordered an extra side of Roasted Beets, which were sweet and tender, a nice addition to the meal (although we were beyond stuffed).

For dessert, we were again served in a family style manner with a Chocolate Ganache Cake, Salted Caramel Ice Cream and Banana Gelato. I’m a sucker for ice cream and gelato so it didn’t take long before they were both devoured. Having a bit of this and a bit of that really created some interesting flavours. The chocolate ganache was dark and decadent, luckily the gelato was just the opposite and mixing the all three felt like I was eating a dark chocolate dipped banana with caramel. If I had to pick though, the salted caramel ice cream would be my favourite (just barely though, they were all so good). Just when we thought we were finished, they brought out some candied nuts and snickerdoodle cookies and additional granola as a take home gift! What a fantastic idea!
With our meal we had the option to do wine pairings and decided to go with it. I had the Nero d’Avola from Sicily, earthy and peppery; it complimented the braised short ribs nicely. The hubby was paired with a Viognier from the local Santa Barbara Bonaccorsi winery. It was grassy with just the right amount of acid to pair with the oiliness of the fish.


My Picks: Chicken Liver Pâté, Winter Greens and Beef Short Rib Ravioli

Overall: It wasn’t the first time I’ve had the Craft restaurant experience and this definitely doesn’t signify the last either. I enjoy both the food and the concept because really what’s more important then good food and family?

Craft LA
10100 Constellation Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
(310) 279-4180
Website: www.craftrestaurant.com/craft-los-angeles

Craft on Urbanspoon

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Restaurant Review: Bistro 2210

>> Monday, April 2, 2012



With so many great restaurants around town, it’s often hard to pick and choose where to go. I enjoy trying new restaurants and tasting different dishes like the next person, but I do find that I tend to wonder back to certain places. True, the décor and setting might not have changed but the menus often do. So whenever I do return to a restaurant I’ve previously been to, it’s always a different experience and sometimes that’s just what I’m looking for. The known and unknown all wrapped in to one. Enter Bistro 2210.

Atmosphere: Cozy, comfortable and intimate defines this dining space. Warm accents are found surrounding the petite tables, where many are hungering for more.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $30

Food and Wine: The menu features a daily special and we happened to be there on Moules (mussles) night. So I had to get an order. We decided to share the Provencal Mussels, made with the quintessential white wine, garlic and butter, with a bit of tomato thrown in for extra acid. The sauce was very light and the butter just managed to enhance the flavours as opposed to drown them, which added to the sweetness of the mussels. The Frites (fries) were extremely crisp, the only way fries should ever be served in my opinion. The crispier the better, it helped that they were cut extremely fine as well. Helps with the crunch factor.


For my main, I ordered the Steak Frites (I couldn’t get enough of the fries…). It was a 6oz tenderloin, seared to a perfect rare state. The meat itself was tender, as a tenderloin should be. The fries were just as crispy as before and it reinforced my decision to stick with more fries. The creamy aioli dip was irresistible as well. My friends all seemed to enjoy their entrees as well, most of them deciding on the more decadent Mac n Cheese.

A dinner isn’t dinner without dessert. I opted for the Pumpkin Mousse, which tasted exactly like the middle of a pumpkin pie. Light but satisfying, it was all topped off with a sweet whipped cream and a little ginger cookie, what a perfect ending to a gratifying meal!

I don’t believe we had wine that night, opting to go with the other libations that Bistro 2210 had to offer. However, I remember enjoying a Bordeaux and wanted to include it here. The bottle was a blend from Chateau Nenine, it had bold berry flavours which could be picked up right away. It definitely mellowed out after a bit of aeration, allowing the oak to shine through a bit more. A nice medium bodied wine.


My Picks: Mussels and House Cut Fries

Overall: Like the many other times I’ve been to Bistro 2210, it was another satisfying evening. I truly enjoy ‘tasting the seasons’ so to speak, in the menu they’ve created, making the unknown part of the known, that much more exciting.

Bistro 2210
2210 4 Street SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 228-4528
Website: http://www.bistro2210.com/

Bistro Twenty Two Ten on Urbanspoon

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