Restaurant Review: Midtown Kitchen

>> Thursday, October 31, 2013


 

Fresh oysters have really taken off in Calgary and being one who loves raw oysters, I can’t be happier. Lucky for us, Tuesday is Midtown’s $1 oyster night, a new place that opened up over the summer in Kensington where Broken Plate was (which I do miss). We weren’t the only ones taking advantage of the special though, the place was packed, which is awesome for a Tuesday night!
Atmosphere: Energetic and lively crowds fill the upbeat dining space with casual modern-day décor.
Price Range: Mid $10s

 

Food & Wine: We had to start with a dozen oysters that evening. Probably would have had more, if it wasn’t for all the delectable sounding dishes on their menu. There was a tangy mignonette sauce accompanying the oysters and each one was perfect topped off with a bit of the mignonette, a squeeze of lemon and a dash of tabasco. The oysters were meaty and fresh, definitely worth a try.
Next we decided to order several items off the small plates menu, we’re the sharing type. It’s a great way to interact during dinner, sampling all the different types of dishes since you can try a little of every dish. Beginning with the crispy Pork belly served with tomato confit on the side.  The pork belly was cut in to 1 inch pieces and deep fried giving it a nice crispy texture, perfect for dipping in to the sweet and tangy tomato jam. Each piece of pork belly had a healthy amount of marbling, definitely an indulgent plate perfect for sharing.


 

To balance out the fatty goodness of the pork belly we had some of their Street Tacos, made with rotisserie chicken and topped with a creamy cabbage slaw, some tasty salsa and white cheddar cheese. I enjoyed the combination of flavours in the taco. There wasn’t an ingredient that overpowered the others, which is very important. I was able to taste the chicken through the creamy mayo and cabbage then the tang of the salsa with the sharpness of the cheddar. I could see myself eating all three tacos that came with the order.
It’s always hard for me to pass up Chicken Liver Parfait when I see it and this was no different. I’m extremely glad we ordered this dish because it was my favorite of the evening. The creamy chicken liver was served with crispy baguette slices and a sweet fig jam.  In my mind there’s no better combination – sweet, savory, unctuous and crunchy, hitting all the right notes. Helps that this version is light even though it could be heavy if not executed well, plus they give a very generous portion. We had to ask for more toasts in order to finish off the parfait and I’m certainly not complaining about that!


 

As the finale, we had to order the Toffee Pudding with caramel sauce. It’s hard to refuse anything with caramel on it, especially a toffee pudding! We also decided to add some vanilla ice cream on the side for a slight cost, which was totally worth it. There is nothing better than the warm and cold contrast of a dessert. The pudding had a nice chewy top layer with a soft gooey center. I did find the caramel sauce a bit sweet and might ask them to put it on the side next time, but the ice cream helped mellow out the flavours. It was a very comforting dessert and great for this time of year.
My Pick: Chicken Liver Parfait


 

Overall: I’m glad that there are so many restaurants in and around town serving oyster deals. I remember when a dozen oysters used to cost more than $25 per platter. It also helps that Midtown has a great sharing menu for those who want to sample a bit of each plate.  But no worries if you have a larger appetite, with choices which range from Very Small, Small to Big plates, Midtown covers everybody’s hunger scale.
Midtown Kitchen
302 10 Street NW
Calgary, AB
(403) 474-2555
Website: www.midtownkitchen.ca

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Restaurant Review: Posto Pizzeria and Bar

>> Wednesday, October 23, 2013



 
There has been a new trend building on social media. It seems everybody is taking food photos and posting them on instagram. I knew a lot of people did it, I’m one of them! But I didn’t realize how crazy this trend has gotten until one night when I saw my in-laws family all taking them. Yup, we’re in an interesting time. For a foodies and people like me, there is nothing better than others who want to share photos of their food. It really helps me decide what and where I want to eat. So when I saw people starting to post all the delicious dishes from Posto, a new restaurant in town, I couldn’t help but start imagining what I’d order when I went and it surely did not disappoint!
Atmosphere:  A relaxed atmosphere reminiscent of its sister restaurant Cibo with similar interior designs but with a more intimate setting. Perfect for those looking for something a little less boisterous and more laidback.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $20s
Food & Wine: I was extremely excited for the soft opening after seeing all the delicious photos on instagram for the last little while. It was really hard deciding what we were going to get, so we decided to go with something a bit light and work our way down the menu starting with the Mussels. They were served in a light broth seasoned with garlic, leeks, pancetta, a bit of chilies and topped with parsley.  I really enjoy leeks and love seeing them used in seafood dishes. The earthy mild onion flavours of the leeks brings out the brininess of the mussels when combined with the pancetta, gave the dish a level of depth in the dish. We also ordered a side of the exquisite Bonterra focaccia bread for dipping.
The Scallops were served shortly after. It was a beautifully plated dish.  The scallops themselves were seared perfectly with a nice translucent center.  It was a fun experience mixing and matching the different ingredients to find the right flavour combination. I enjoyed a bit of green apple, a little pistachio with my bit of scallop. I found the smoked ham hock along with the brown butter cauliflower to be a nice bite in itself and that the ham would slightly overwhelm the delicate scallop flavour, which is why I enjoyed the two separately. Definitely let the dish speak to you in terms of which flavours you’d like to combine.

 
Continuing our seafood courses, we had the Halibut next. Seared and served with polenta fries, celery root slaw and topped with green romesco (a spread made with green peppers, chilies, garlic and almonds). The fish was cooked to perfection, each section flaking off. No knife required here, but I did find that I wanted a bit more seasoning. I couldn’t stop eating the polenta fries though, they were extremely crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. I could have used just a plate of those alone. The slaw itself was refreshing and a nice contrast to the polenta fries as a side.
Moving away from the lighter dishes, we had the Beef Crudo (same as a tartare), which is rare beef mixed with capers, shallots and garlic served with a fried egg on the side and crispy toasts.  You have to mix the fried egg in with the crudo so that the egg yolk is nicely combined. This enhances the creaminess of the beef especially when spread on the crispy toast.
 
I couldn’t wait to try the next dish, the Squid Ink Ravioli with Lobster and saffron cream. The pasta had a nice chewy texture and was perfectly al dente. When combined with the savory lobster filling featuring large chunks of fresh lobster, it was an explosion of flavour. I would definitely order this dish again.
Our last plate that evening was the Beef Cheek and Bone Marrow served with crunchy sunchokes and mustard greens. The beef cheek was phenomenal! The word tender doesn’t begin to describe how succulent it was. There is no need for a knife when enjoying this dish. Just scoop a bit of the marrow on top of the beef cheek and dig in with your fork. Its decadent and delightful, a perfect plate.
 
Pizza is a must when dining at Posto, where the pizza dough is truly the star making every pizza a great choice. The chewiness of the dough itself is always my favorite part and I always savor the crust. We had the Smoked Salmon Pizza topped with leeks, capers and crème fraiche that evening. The flavours reminded me of eating bagel and lox. I highly recommend this pizza to those that are looking for something a little less traditional on a pizza.
One thing I couldn’t pass up on was dessert, particularly when the server told us what the specials were that night. The Zeppole (little Italian donuts) were served with a sweet milk chocolate dipping sauce, reminding me of churros and chocolate. The zeppole itself is doughier with a soft exterior, perfectly paired to the silky milk chocolate sauce. I could have eaten a whole basket of these, luckily for me they only brought out taster. I’m glad somebody was looking out for me. They were also serving a traditional Cannoli filled with orange mascarpone cream. It tasted very light due to the twist of citrusy tang mixed in to the cream. The cannoli shell was crispy and nicely coupled with the crunch and flavour of the pistachios, a lighter end to a meal if you’re not in to heavy desserts.


They were providing a sampling of the different wines they had on hand that evening, starting with the Briccotondo Fontanafredda from the Piedmont region of Italy. A medium bodied wine featuring blackberries with cinnamon and pepper with a long slow finish. Next we had the Morellino di Scansano by Castello Romitorio, which is a blend of Cabernet and Sangiovese from the Tuscany region. Full of plum and cherry notes, medium bodied with a lingering finish, it was my favorite wine of the night. Finally we also got to taste the Surrau Sincaru made from cannonau grapes from the Sardinia region of Italy. It had bold earthy and spicy flavors, full bodied and long finish, definitely a wine to be enjoyed with a meaty dish.


My Picks: Beef Crudo, Squid Ink Ravioli, Beef Cheek and Marrow
Overall: After seeing the menu at Posto, I was glad to have a game plan because I wanted to order and try everything on the menu! So continue to post those delicious food photos instagramers! Helping everyone decide on what they need to eat because when you have a menu like Posto’s, that’s as delicious sounding as it tastes, we need all the help we can get.
Posto Pizzeria & Bar
1014 8 Street SW
Calgary, AB
(403)263-4876
Website: www.posto.ca

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Beer Can Chicken Recipe

>> Thursday, October 17, 2013

 

There were a couple recipes that I’ve been meaning to post on the blog, but it’s been hard to pick and choose which recipe to post first. However, due to some feedback I got through twitter and email I had no choice but to post this one first…Beer Can Chicken!
We decided to cook this as our 2 person Thanksgiving dinner main this past weekend because there was no way we were going to finish a whole turkey to ourselves. I wanted to try, if for nothing but to use the leftover turkey in other delectable recipes (turkey congee anyone!?), but my husband gave me ‘the look’, the one that stated that it was not my brightest idea. Since he’s not around during the week, I literally would have had to eat turkey morning, noon and night for the next week… probably closer to two weeks.  Better to go with a smaller sized fowl, we’ve already had turkey over the weekend anyhow. Especially after we had the first bite of the chicken, we both realized that we made the right choice!

The only drawback with this recipe is that it requires prep work. You could marinate the chicken shortly before cooking, but realize that the flavours aren’t going to be as robust as leaving the chicken overnight in the fridge. Though if you’re looking for a chicken that’s juicy and tender but lacking the time to prep the chicken, you’ll still receive those results due to the low and slow cooking process (maybe just add a bit of salt when consuming). Either way, I’d love to hear your feedback once you have a chance to try it out!


Ingredients:
1 2-3 lb whole chicken (free range preferred for better flavour)
3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 tsp dried thyme (or 1 tbsp fresh, chopped)
1 tsp dried rosemary (or 1 tbsp fresh, chopped)
1 tsp dried parsley (or 1 tbsp fresh, chopped)
1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tbsp fresh, chopped)
1 tsp dried sage (or 1 tbsp fresh, chopped)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper

Alternately instead of all the herbs you could purchase a poultry bundle which would include all the herbs up top and then add a bit of dried herbs to make up the flavours noted.

1 can light beer (eg. Bud light or Coors light)

Preparation:

Place the chicken in a medium sized bowl (ideally you want to prep and marinate your chicken the night before for the best flavour)
Slip the thin slices of garlic underneath the skin making sure they’re evenly spread apart, save any leftover garlic for the cooking the chicken (if there are any left)
Sprinkle the salt all over the chicken on the outside and try to get some salt on the inside as well
Next, mix all the herbs together in a small bowl and pat them on to the chicken

Cover up the bowl with cling wrap or lid and place in refrigerator overnight
When ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 425ºF

Open up a can of beer, pour out 1/3 of the beer in to the bottom of a baking dish
Sit the can of beer in the middle of the baking dish, toss the rest of the leftover garlic in to the beer can

Slowly place the chicken over top the beer can

Place the baking dish in to the oven at 425ºF for 10 mins
Turn the oven down to 325ºF for another 45 mins (or until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165ºF)

Remove the chicken and tent with tin foil for approximately 10 mins before serving
Enjoy!

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16th Annual Calgary Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival - Tickets Giveaway

>> Thursday, October 10, 2013


Fall is definitely hitting Calgary and I heard we’re supposed to be expecting snow soon! Yikes! I guess it is Calgary after all, at least we had a relatively mild September, but now that it’s October we can look forward to other things. Like the Rocky Mountain Food & Wine Festival happening next weekend October 18 & 19 at the BMO Centre in Stampede Park.   It’s one of the best parts of the autumn season!

Again, I have a set of tickets for Saturday October 19th afternoon session (12-4pm) to give away as well! So message me through twitter or respond to this post and I’ll do a random draw next week for the winner.

For all of you that are interested, here’s a bit more information.  Plus there are still additional tickets available for purchase, but they might sell out soon so don’t wait too long! Also, new for this year, they’re holding an afternoon tasting session for those that want to avoid the long lines and big crowds. It’s also great for those that already have evening plans!


Sip, Sample and Savour at the 16th Annual Calgary Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival

What:    The Calgary Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival is back for two days of indulgence, offering a little something for everyone. The Grand Tasting Hall will be bustling with more food and beverage exhibitors than ever before, leaving taste buds seduced and craving more. The Festival offers the opportunity to sample an extensive variety of world-class wine, scotch, premium spirits, import and micro-brewed beer along with gourmet culinary creations from local restaurants, hotels and food purveyors.

Liquor Depot will once again feature an on-site liquor store, where attendees can purchase their favourite finds from the weekend. Liquor Connect will also be available to demonstrate how LiquorConnect.com can help find sensational sips after the Festival. Additionally, Sunshine Village will be sponsoring the Grand Prize All-Inclusive Weekend Getaway for two, including two nights’ accommodation at Sunshine Mountain Lodge, VIP parking, a $100 gift certificate for food and beverages, a couple’s spa treatment and next day lift tickets.

Who:     Wine, spirit and beer enthusiasts, food lovers with healthy appetites will unite to indulge in a tasty selection of mouth-watering delights. It’s a weekend of excitement and flavourful fun for those who are passionate about wine and food.

Why:     To celebrate the art of food and beverage creations brought to light by talented local restaurants, hotels and food purveyors, as well as wine, spirit and beer providers. The weekend presents Calgarians with an exclusive night of indulgence, sampling and savouring with friends, family and co-workers alike.

When: Friday, October 18, 5-10 p.m.

Saturday, October 19, 12-4 p.m.

Saturday, October 19, 6-10 p.m.

Where:  Stampede Park’s BMO Centre, Halls D & E

For ticket information visit:


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Restaurant Review: MONKI Breakfastclub & Bistro

>> Wednesday, October 9, 2013


 
Sometimes I find that I’m a very impatient person (well depending on who you talk to…it might be more then sometimes), driving in rush hour traffic, waiting in line at a supermarket or..well you get the point. This trait has therefore prevented me from going to eat at a lot of the diners in and around town because 1) I pobably have less patience in the mornings when I’m starving and ) I get angry when I get hungry, where the perfectly coined term 'hangry' comes to mind. Luckily for me, when we decided to go check out Monki, there was somebody that was willing to go and grab us a table, solving my impatient problem for the short term (I secretly think they offered because Monki serves delicious coffee while you’re waiting in line)!
Atmosphere: A cozy laid back establishment reminiscent of a place you’d find by the coast.
Price Range: Mid $10s
Food: Shortly after placing our order, the table next to us received theirs and they happened to order the Brisket & Monki Sausage Hash also, I knew at that point that I’d made the right choice, especially with all the amazing eggs bennys to choose from. The hash was topped with perfectly cooked fried eggs, each having an oozy yolky center. I love cutting in to the egg yolk and watching it spill over to hash serving as a sauce. The dish was also topped with a creamy hollandaise sauce, but since the eggs were so gooey and rich, I felt that I didn’t even need the hollandaise. The potato hash very flavourful, extremely crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, holding up well against the saucy brisket and egg yolk. They would also be good alone with just a creamy mayo. They serve it as a side if you’re looking for your fill of carbs that morning!  I really enjoyed the braised brisket, very tender and savory. I preferred it over the sausage. I found the sausage to be a bit more gamey then I’d expected. It’s perfect for those that love lamb or venison. The fruit cup on the side was a nice complement to the salty bold flavours of the hash and brisket.

My friend ordered the Smoked Salmon, Asparagus Eggs Benedict which came with crispy capers and prosecco hollandaise sauce. The eggs were also cooked to perfection, the egg yolk spilling over mixing in with the buttery hollandaise. Whereas smoked salmon and capers are a classic combination. Throw in a bit of asparagus and it kept the dish fresh and inventive. The eggs bennys also came with a side of the crispy hash and a fruit cup, making for a perfect set meal. If you’re feeling adventurous, they also have a huge selection of various hot sauces to top off your meal. Feel free to try them all!
My pick: Brisket & Sausage Hash with Fried Eggs, Hashbrowns with Aioli
Overall: I’m crossing my fingers that the line ups get shorter as the weather cools down, but I guess the lines are a testament to the food being served. I guess I’ll just have to keep sipping on that coffee to keep me warm while patiently waiting for my next table at Monki OR better yet, anybody else want to come for brunch (wink wink)?
MONKI Breakfast Club & Bistro
1301 10 Ave SW
Calgary, AB
(587) 352-7131
Website: www.monki.ca
 
MONKI Breakfastclub & Bistro on Urbanspoon

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Restaurant Review: Briggs Kitchen and Bar

>> Thursday, October 3, 2013



 

Stress has reached brand new heights at work lately and when I think it can’t get any more demanding….it does. Every request is priority number 1, urgent or they need it ASAP. However, I know I’m not alone and try to take solace in that. So I jumped at the chance when my coworker decided that we should go for a quick lunch. Sometimes, it helps to just turn my brain off even if it’s only for an hour. We decided that it would be nice to get away from our usual neighbouring joints and head a little further out, which is how we found ourselves at Briggs Kitchen and Bar, a new restaurant that opened up on 10th Ave, a perfect distance for a quick lunch getaway to allow ourselves some time to relax.

Atmosphere: Rustic meets contemporary in the edgy dining area, featuring a great patio, open kitchen and a large bar. One can definitely start and end the night here.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $20+

 
Food & Wine: We dropped by for a quick lunch the other day and it was tough to pick and choose what we wanted to try. We finally opted on the ‘Sharing Plates’ giving us the best of all worlds. The kitchen was extremely quick and our food arrived shortly after we place our order, perfect for those that are in a hurry during a weekday lunch. The first dish was the Crispy Humbolt Calamari with fresh and light fennel, arugula and a creamy tomato aioli for dipping. The calamari was presented with a thicker cut, which I preferred because you can really taste the squid itself. Since it’s humbolt squid, it was extremely tender. The breaded crust added the nice crunch that I was looking for. I also really liked the flavor combination of the fennel with the squid, making the dish feel extremely light.

We had to order the Salmon Pretzel Sliders. How could one resist anything on a pretzel bun? Served with pickled cucumbers, a caper mayo and chunks of salmon, the flavour combination was on point. The chewiness of the pretzel bun added the needed mouth feel and really brought the sandwich together. I probably could have eaten another 3 of these...or more.

 
Up next were the Herb & Potato Gnocchi in a sage brown butter sauce featuring lots of smoky mushrooms and doughy gnocchi. The first few bites were great, the gnocchi themselves were soft and tender however it did get a bit heavy due to the brown butter sauce. I found that it needed a bit of citrus to brighten as well as lighten up the dish. It’s definitely one to be shared.

At the last minute we decided to add the Hearty Flatbread and I’m glad we did.  Like a breakfast in pizza form the combination of prosciutto and swiss cheese topped with a perfectly fried egg tasted like the perfect hearty breakfast sandwich. A comforting and warm dish that I wished could have been served to me in bed. I would highly recommend it to those that are looking at alternative brunch options!

 
We didn’t sample any of the wines or cocktails that day since we there for a quick lunch, but they looked really tasty (here’s looking at you, Strawberry Pisco Sour), plus the cocktails are all 1.5oz which never hurts!

My Picks: Hearty Flatbread, Salmon Pretzel Sliders

Overall: Both my coworker and I were very impressed with the food, service and atmosphere at Briggs. We agreed that it was the perfect location for a quick lunch getaway, especially if you’re looking for a nice walk to a place outside your usual lunch spots yet not too far away. However, I’m curious about what it would be like during dinner. Guess I’ll just have to stop by again and check it out! Update: I definitely recommend Briggs for dinner as well. There are many great options to choose from, the Tomahawk Steak being one of my favorites. I'll make a note to do a dinner post soon.

Briggs Kitchen and Bar
317 10 Ave SW
Calgary, AB
(587) 380-5015
Website: www.briggskandb.com

 
Briggs Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon

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