Restaurant Review: Bocce

>> Monday, July 28, 2014

Friends often ask me about my favorite restaurant in Calgary and with all the great choices it’s always hard for me to pick just one. However Mercato’s has always remained a top restaurant on my list. So when they opened a Mercato West near Aspen landing, I had to make my way out there and it was no different when I heard they were opening a restaurant specializing in pizza on 4th street. It was inevitable that I would have to stop in to Bocce and order myself some pizza pie.

Atmosphere: Bright modern dining area featuring white and green décor, patio seating and extensive bar.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $20

Food and Wine: The mussels sounded intriguing so we got an order to start. Cooked in a white wine garlic broth with semi dried tomatoes, fennel and caper berries, the mussels
were fragrant and flavourful. The broth was perfect for dipping. It was light and didn’t mask the taste of the mussels, a great plate for sharing.

It was hard to choose from the menus since everything sounded delicious, but we knew we were there for the pizza and ordered one red and one white. The Calabrese Rosso Pizza had spicy fennel sausage, black olives, and roasted red peppers topped with mozzarella cheese. It had a bit of a kick due to the sausage but that just added to the allure of this pizza. It wouldn’t be the same without that bit of spice making it a delicious bite. The extremely thin crust was truly amazing, both chewy and crispy, epitomizing the perfect pizza pie.

My favorite was definitely the Boschetto Bianca Pizza featuring mortadella, pistachios, semi dried tomatoes, olive oil and both mozzarella and parmigiano cheeses. Everything on this pizza was a winner from the meaty mortadella slices to the crunchy pistachios, it all made sense and packed a whopping flavourful punch. Couple that with the amazingly thin dough and it’s a true taste of Italy.

We sampled both the Umani Ronchi montepulciano d’abbruzzo and Castello Romitorio chianti colli senesi wines with our meal. The chianti was smooth, medium bodied and a nice pairing for the mussels or lighter fare. I really enjoyed the Umani montepulciano, with flavours of plum and cherries, this medium bodied wine really opened up and had an amazing finish. Both our wines were served in little glass cups as opposed to wine glasses to elicit the feeling of eating in an Italian bistro on the streets of Naples.

My Picks: Boschetto Bianca Pizza

Overall: After dining at Bocce I have definitely added it to my list of restaurants to recommend to family and friends. Not only a great dining space, but the food and service were excellent. If you haven’t gone, definitely make your way over to sample some of their delicious offerings.

110 2207 4 Street SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 516-6162

Bocce on Urbanspoon


Restaurant Review: Black Pig Bistro

>> Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bridgeland has always held a special place in my heart. When I young I attended the local Langevin Elementary school when I lived nearby. Now when I drive or walk by it still brings back great memories. It hard to imagine what the old Bridgeland community used to look like now with all the new development since they tore down the old General Hospital, but everything looks amazing and I’m so glad they revitalized that area. Especially with all the new great stores and restaurants opening in the area, it’s really turned in to a quaint little part of town. Plus with the new addition of The Black Pig Bistro, it was just what the area called for.

Atmosphere: Bright dining area with windows providing natural light

to the room contrasting the dark eye catching décor. An intimate space well suited for romantic dinners or small group get-togethers.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $20+

Food & Wine: It’s not often you see Iberico ham on the menu and therefore whenever we do, we indulge. The Fermin Jamon Iberico is a Spanish delicacy, it’s a top grade cured ham made from black pigs that are served with an acorn diet. At the bistro they serve the ham with traditional tomato olive oil rubbed baguette slices which allow the taste of the salty ham shine through. The best part of the iberico ham in my opinion is the fatty slices, which melts like butter on the tongue and best eaten by itself.

Another item that’s our usual choice is the Chicken Liver Parfait when it’s on the menu. There’s just something special about the whipped creaminess of the parfait especially when spread over some crispy crostinis. It’s also the perfect pairing for wine and makes for a great sharing platter. The Salt Cod Tortellini definitely caught my attention. We could never get enough of bacalao (salt cod) while we were in Spain and Portugal, another specialty of the region and not very prevalent in North America. The tortellini had a nice chewy pasta layer encompassing the briny cod mixture inside. Served with a piquillo pepper puree and crispy kale chips, it made for a visually striking dish.

For the mains we started with the Beef Cheek Risotto, made with mascarpone giving it a nice buttery texture and saffron which provided the beautiful golden hue. This is the perfect plate for sharing because of its generous portion size. Plus, then you can also sample the other mains such as the Pork & Beans. It’s a combination of edamame, broad and white beans with fennel and mint served with roasted porchetta. I really enjoyed the different textural contrasts of the various beans used in this dish combining it with the au jus and smokiness of the porchetta the overall plate was well composed. The Alberta Rib Eye Steak was prepared with latin flavours utilizing chimichurri on the dish to bring forward the meaty flavours of the rib eye. Accompanied by crunchy broccolini spears, it’s perfect for those who are carb conscious. The rib eye itself is tender and cooked perfectly to order.

There were quite a few different dessert selections that caught our eye but we decided on the Flourless Chocolate Cake and the Passion Fruit Panna Cotta. They were a nice contrast to each other, the chocolate cake being dark and decadent with peanut butter fig ice cream and a velvety smooth chocolate pudding. Out of the two I would have to choose the panna cotta due to the citrusy passion fruit. Along with the coconut brioche, pistachios and toasted coconut, it was truly amazing. The flavours were so bright and perfectly balanced, not overly sweet yet still enough flavour so you can taste the passion fruit in each bite plus the panna cotta was so smooth. The perfect ending to a great meal!

My Picks: Jamon Iberico, Pork and Beans, Passion Fruit Panna Cotta

Overall: A bistro was exactly what Bridgeland needed especially one with Spanish flare. I was extremely excited to hear about the new restaurant and it’s definitely lived up to its hype. I’m looking forward to what’s next at the bistro and can’t wait to come back.

Black Pig Bistro
825 1st Ave NE
Calgary, AB

Black Pig Bistro on Urbanspoon


Healthy Herbed Chicken

>> Thursday, July 10, 2014

Seeing as its stampede week there's quite a bit of indulging. Who can resist trying all the new goodies on the grounds like red velvet donuts, bacon wrapped pork belly, cotton candy flower and the scorpion pizza?? Well maybe I’ll skip out on the last one but I definitely need to get the infamous 'Those Little Mini Donuts' and the turkey drumstick. It's become a yearly traditional for us and it just wouldn’t be stampede without them.

With all those indulgences, it makes sense to want to eat cleaner at home to maintain a balanced diet. For this reason I wanted to share a flavorful herbed chicken recipe which is healthy and satisfying. Pair it with a fresh salad and some potatoes and you have a meal that's quick and delicious. Plus, since our weather has been so warm recently, this recipe also works great on the grill!

Nutritional Tidbit: Herbs pack a powerful punch when it’s comes to the health benefits they provide. Since they’re extremely concentrated, using only a bit of them in our recipes not only enhances the flavour of our food but also increases the nutrition of our dishes. Simple herbs as basil and parsley can prevent cancer, lower blood pressure and reduce heart disease. Some herbs also reduce inflammation in our body and helps lower blood glucose. All these great benefits plus being flavour boosters, there’s really no reason why they shouldn’t be included in every recipe!

Salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp oregano, dried
1 tbsp basil, dried
1 tbsp thyme, dried
1 tbsp chili flakes
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 lbs chicken drumsticks
4 tbsp olive oil


Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.

Using a smaller bowl, combine the garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, chili flakes and fennel seeds. Feel free to use fresh herbs, which is what I did but double the amount of herbs used because dried herbs are more concentrated. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add in the chicken drumsticks and rub with salt and pepper.

Coat the drumsticks with olive oil and slowly sprinkle on the herb mixture until each drumstick is evenly covered. If you have time, leave the drumsticks to marinte for an hour or overnight in the fridge for even better flavour.

Place the drumsticks on the baking sheet, leaving at least 1 inch between each to avoid crowding and undercooking of the chicken.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Remove from oven and serve with sides.

Makes 4 servings.


A Stampede Drink - The Cowboy's Breakfast

>> Thursday, July 3, 2014

The whole city is gearing up for the biggest outdoor show on earth, the Calgary Stampede, officially kicking off this Friday July 6th! Definitely the largest celebration in the city, the stampede represents not only our historical culture but also a generation of new traditions. Drawing travelers from around the world, everybody is out to experience their own part of the stampede whether it is the rodeo, pancake breakfasts or the infamous Cowboys. There is a bit of something for everyone.

As part of the celebration this year Bar C is creating a brand new cocktail to showcase what the Calgary Stampede means to them with a drink called the ‘Cowboy’s Breakfast’, which is served during the 10 days of the Stampede. We recently got a sneak peek of the drink paired alongside some delectable dishes and amazing cocktails at Bar C’s patio, truly a hidden oasis on busy 17th Ave.

The Cowboy’s Breakfast combines bourbon, tequila, bacon infused maple syrup, egg whites, liquid smoke and topped off with a piece of candied bacon. A bit sweet and a little savory, each sip is reminiscent of the ingredients required for a perfect stampede breakfast especially with the addition of the liquid smoke. Our drinks were paired with Seared Scallops served with spinach, charred tomato, bacon and a whiskey maple vinaigrette. The scallops remained opaque inside while developing a nice brown crust due to the searing process. I really enjoyed the whiskey maple vinaigrette which enhanced the subtle sweetness of the scallops. The spinach and tomato added additional texture and flavour contrasts creating an overall harmonious dish, which left me wanting more. Overall the different hints of maple flavour from both the drink and the vinaigrette in the dish played well off of each other highlighting different elements of each!

A couple other cocktails that Bar C is currently featuring on their menu include the New Old Fashioned, a lighter take on the original Old Fashioned with sherry whiskey to smooth out the taste of the bourbon. The Mojitolatoialato-aia, quite the mouth full but something I wouldn’t be able to stop ordering because of how delicious it is. A perfect patio drink during our hot summer months. It’s their version of a strawberry mojito with black pepper and balsamic. It’s dangerous because of how delicious and how easily it goes down, I can probably drink a pitcher of them! Both are great accompaniments to the bison or tuna tartars, something light and tasty for summer.

So for those that are looking to do something a little different this stampede, be sure to drop by Bar C to try their unique Cowboy’s Breakfast cocktail. Who kn
ows, maybe there will be a new tradition created this year!

Bar C
340 17 Ave SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 984-3667

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