Restaurant Review: Scopa

>> Wednesday, August 27, 2014

 
We’ve been talking about Europe a lot lately, how we miss the scenery, the coffee, wine and most importantly the food. We really should plan for another visit soon, but until that can happen we heard of a new restaurant in town that was cooking rustic Italian in the Tuxedo area of town. Since it’s so close to home we had to drop in one evening.

Atmosphere: An intimate dining room with rustic charm making one feel like they’ve stepped in to the countryside of Italy.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $20s


Food and Wine: Their pane selections sounded divine and we decided to order the Polenta Bread to start. Composed of creamy polenta, smoked pancetta and topped with buttery goodness, sweet honey and chilies, it was an exquisite first bite and introduction to our meal. I easily could have eaten the whole order and more, but reminded myself that we’ve only just begun our meal.

Our first appetizer were the Polpettes, moist veal meatballs topped with a tomato based marinara sauce and lots of grana padano. The meatballs were incredible! They were very well seasoned and generously portioned. Each bite of the meatballs was a burst of flavour and the marinara was the perfect complement. I felt like I was invited in to the home of an Italian grandmother. I relished the sauce and even used it as an accompaniment to the Calamari, our second appetizer.


The calamari was lightly coated in batter and fried, served with arugula, pickled cucumbers and mild chilies. I liked the contrast of the pickled cucumbers and chilies providing the needed punch of flavour, but did find that it was still missing an element and found the marinara from the polpettes to be the perfect addition. The main course was the Ippoglosso, pan seared halibut with asparagus, fingerling potatoes and pepperonata, Italian for slow cooked peppers with onions and garlic. The dish was light and fresh where the ingredients elevated the halibut as opposed to overwhelming it. The fish itself was well cooked with each portion showcasing a nice crisp exterior while remaining flaky inside.


For dessert we wanted to end with something that wasn’t overly too rich, so we ordered the Panna Cotta. The White Chocolate Panna Cotta was the perfect dessert. Light and refreshing, it was a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. The buttermilk complimented the tangy berries and the praline provided a nice texture contrast making for a perfect summer dessert.

My Picks: Polenta Bread, Polpette Veal Meatballs


Overall: Great portion sizes and delicious menu selections made our visit to Scopa quite memorable not unlike some of the food we experience in Italy. We might not be heading to Italy right away, but we can definitely stop by Scopa whenever we are craving some Italian.

Scopa
2220 Centre St. NE
Calgary, AB
(403) 276-2030
Website: scopacalgary.com

Scopa Neighbourhood Italian on Urbanspoon

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Ready, Set, Sushi Roll! Edo Japan Sushi Roll Competition!

>> Wednesday, August 20, 2014


To showcase Edo Japan’s new sushi menu, Edo hosted a fun sushi roll showdown. Where I along with six food bloggers were challenged with the task of coming up with a creative and delicious sushi roll within 20 minutes. Looking around, I was up against some pretty stiff competition! We all had shared ingredients that were provided and was allowed a secret ingredient. The sushi expert gave us a quick sushi rolling demo and then we were off.


After what felt like a second, who knew 20 minutes could fly by as quickly as it did! I fortunately had my sushi rolled and ready for judgment. Everybody was able to finish their rolls and they all looked fabulous. Each entry was unique including a surf n turf roll, a roll that didn’t even include nori (seaweed) or fish, one that featured goat cheese and the list goes on. I was pretty nervous because my secret ingredient required some finesse, I figured over charred sushi probably doesn’t taste too good.


The judges did their rounds and when it was time to announce the winner I was pretty shocked to hear my name! I guess the blowtorch did the trick! All in all it was a fun experience to battle alongside my fellow foodies. My only regret was not being able to taste everybody else’s rolls as well! They all looked delicious and in my mind we were all winners.

As part of the win, I received some gift cards to Edo Japan and would love to share them with you guys, my readers! Please respond in the comments below or tweet me @ScrumpFitFood if you're interested!


My creation - the Autumn Fire Roll - creamy crab mix with avocado, cucumber and topped with strips of tuna and salmon, a bit of tobiko, all flamed and served with a tangy ponzu sauce.

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Restaurant Review: Hapa Izakaya

>> Monday, August 11, 2014

 
Vancouver has always been known for its amazing sushi. Their fresh seafood is hard to beat and therefore the sushi and sashimi are always top grade. One of the most popular sushi places is Hapa Izakaya, known for their unique take on classic Japanese dishes. They’ve now brought their flavours to Calgary, recently opening on 11th avenue and we decided to drop in to check out their locally inspired menu.

Atmosphere: Contemporary and modern interiors with a lounge like feel.

Price Range: Mid $10s


Food and Drink: The menu was nicely divided in to various sections highlighting hot and cold appetizers, small sharing plates, stone bowls and different sushi selections. We decided to try a bit off of each starting with the Tuna Avocado Salsa Dip which reminded me more of a tartare due to the addition of the creamy avocado. Served with a side of plantain chips it was a nice light start to our meal. Next up were the apple soy marinaded Beef Short Ribs. The flavour of the short ribs were good, but I did find them to be a bit chewy and hard to bite through, it would have been nice to be accompanied by some more lettuce or additional sides and served as wraps.

It was hard to decide between the stone bowls so we ordered both the Spicy Pork Ishi-Yaki and the Kinoko Ishi-Yaki. The pork stone bowl was comprised of minced pork, garlic sprouts, egg, tomato, lettuce, spicy miso over rice and the Kinoko featured mixed mushrooms, iwanori seaweed with rice. Both of them were served in a hot stone bowl and the server will help mix them when they arrive, however since the bowls are quite hot it ultimately creates little pieces of rice crisps on the bottom of the bowl. I found that the crisps added a nice crunch to each bowl making them even more amazing.


Instead of having to decide which sashimi to order we got the Sashi Mori, a chef’s daily selection of fresh sashimi. It’s perfect for those who are a bit adventurous and would like to sample different types. It has a good selection of unique pieces, not just your typical salmon and tuna but pieces that are fresh and flavourful like the tuna belly.

We couldn’t leave without trying the sushi rolls. Sadly the Kin Roll was not available that day due to a back order on yellowtail but we did get to try the Hapa, Umi and Hanabi rolls. It was hard to pick a favorite. The Hapa roll had avocado, cucumber, carrot, asparagus, kaiware (radish sprouts), topped with salmon, spicy mayo was all torched which provided a really nice charred flavour profile to the roll. The Umi consisted of chopped scallop and mayo mix, avocado then topped with ahi tuna and tangy onion vinaigrette. All the ingredients melded together nicely and the vinaigrette was light and refreshing. The Hanabi roll was a play on the traditional spicy tuna roll but topped with lots of tobiko for added texture and presentation.

You don't have to worry about being thirsty at Hapa, their drink menu which rivals their food menu has anything and everything from sake to cocktails. It'll probably be harder to decide what you want to get over whether you will be ordering a drink.


My Picks: Spicy Pork Ishi-Yahi, Hapa Roll

Overall: Although the menu is different and slightly smaller than Hapa Vancouver, it still featured some interesting items that I would definitely go back for. I already have some dishes in mind for when I return. Aburi mackerel and kin roll, here I come.

Hapa Izakaya
816 11 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 452-6737
Website: hapaizakaya.com

Hapa Izakaya on Urbanspoon

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