17th Annual Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Fest Tickets Giveaway!

>> Tuesday, September 30, 2014

It’s officially fall in Calgary and although it’s sad that the leaves are starting to turn and the weather has gotten a bit chilly, in my opinion it’s also one of the prettiest seasons of the year. Plus, autumn also means the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival is back!

Again, I have a set of tickets for Saturday October 18th 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 17th 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.

They’re excited to welcome Sobeys Liquor as the 2014 Title Sponsor! While at the Festival, stop by the on-site Sobeys Liquor store to purchase your favourite finds to enjoy at home. Also be sure to sign up for Sobeys Liquor eFlyer for great deals on the wines you love by clicking here, and take advantage of this printable 10% off coupon today for savings at the Sobeys Liquor store nearest you!

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 17, 5-10 p.m.
            Saturday, October 18, 12-4 p.m.
            Saturday, October 18, 6-10 p.m.

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

For ticket information visit: http://www.rockymountainwine.com/calgary.html


Simply Better Chocolate Cake

>> Wednesday, September 24, 2014

This past weekend I had the sudden urge to bake. Not necessarily having anything particular in mind I started rummaging through my pantry and fridge only to be disappointed by not finding any eggs (ate too many for breakfast) or butter (ate too much of it for dinner). So I started feverishly searching the internet for any recipe that can be made with what little I had left on hand. Lucky for me something interesting popped up, a cake recipe which didn’t require any butter or eggs. That was my simply better moment of the day.

There is nothing that brightens me up more than realizing that you can make something happen with what you’ve got. I have the adapted cake recipe below to share my simply better moment with everyone. Please let me know if you’ve got one as well. Would love to hear from everyone!

Check out simplybetter.ca for more information.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 tbsp canola oil
1 cup water

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Grease and line an 8 inch baking pan with parchment paper. The parchment paper makes it easier to remove the cake from the pan.

Fold a piece of parchment paper 4 times like in the photo. Place it the point around the middle of the pan, cut the outer edges of the paper. Unfold it and it should fit right in to your baking pan. Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda and salt.

Add in the vinegar, vanilla, oil and water.

Fold the batter until all the ingredients are fully combined. Do not over mix.

Scoop the batter in to the baking pan.

Bake for approximately 35 mins or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let the pan cool for 5-10 mins, remove the cake from the baking pan and let cool entirely before decorating.

You can ice the cake or simply serve it with a dusting of icing sugar on top. It’s also great with melted chocolate on top.




Restaurant Review: Anju 2.0

>> Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I remember back when I first heard of Anju, a little hidden away restaurant just on the outskirts of downtown. Korean tapas, they said. I was intrigued and couldn’t wait to try it. After just the first outing, I was hooked. Then no before long, I heard that they were closing and I was distraught. Where else was I going to get my Oxtail Tortellini fix? Or Crispy Tofu? Luckily for us, Roy Oh, chef of Anju was out growing their space and was looking for a new location where he can truly showcase his talents. Welcome Anju 2.0. Everybody waited in anticipation. Nobody was disappointed.

Atmosphere: A nice contrast to the original Anju location which had its own unique charm, but this new stylish spot is elegant and larger mirroring the amazing dining selections on their bulked up menu.

Price Range: Mid $10 - $20+

Food & Wine: We had to start off with some of my classic Anju favorites. The Yam Fries with the addicting truffle oil and gochugaru aioli have been one of my favorites since they first opened and I’m glad to see they haven’t changed the recipe, we were so excited they were back we had to get 2 orders. Actually I believe we ordered 2 of all the favorites, the Crispy Tofu, Sunworks Chicken Wings with Gochujang glaze and the Oxtail Tortellini. For those who never tried the Oxtail Tortellini when Anju first opened, make sure not to miss them when you visit their new location. Again the truffle oil is used just perfectly here to highlight all the different notes of the pasta from the melt in your mouth oxtail to the al dente tortellini shell. It is truly one of the best bites in town.

Although I could have more than filled up on the originals, I couldn’t pass up sampling their new items and I’m definitely glad I didn’t. The Green Onion & Seafood Pancake, reminded me of the traditional Taiwanese oyster omelets, the pancakes included prawns, squid, mussels and clams served with a side of chili soy sauce for dipping. Fluffy and gooey, the pancake has just the right amount of seafood distributed throughout that every piece is juicy and just as tasty as the last.

The Mussels & Clams were another winner at our table with the flavours of the shellfish brought forward through the expert use of the black garlic. The broth enhanced the sweetness of both the clams and mussels while the toasted baguette was the perfect vessel to sop up all that deliciousness. Another great option for those looking for something soupy was the Kimchi Ramen made from pork broth featuring pieces of pork belly and kimchi. The noodles were well cooked and the broth well-seasoned, this was a pig lover’s dream dish.

It was intriguing to see Lemongrass Brussels Sprouts on the menu and since we definitely required some greens to accompany our protein heavy meal, the sprouts sounded like a delectable choice. However what we received was beyond expectations. The combination of the Chinese sausage (lap cheong) with the fried brussels sprouts was divine. The hints of fish sauce really blended well with the bitterness of the sprouts. The addition of the walnuts and lime only added to the appeal of this side dish and elevated the lowly brussel sprout.

The other side greens we ordered were equally as tasty. The Artisan Green Salad although sounding simple is anything but. Made with fuji apples, romaine hearts, dried cranberries, almonds and a tangy yuja vinaigrette. The salad was both fresh and light, which really helped break up our meal and refresh our palates for more spicy goodness.

We were extremely full at this point it was hard not to order dessert, especially when one stated that it was for adults only. The Black Sesame Punch, a sophisticated twist on your after dinner nightcap was perfectly balanced, not overly sweet or pungent served with some freshly baked gochujang chocolate cookies, made it more appealing as a dessert. The cookies were soft and chewy with a nice lingering spiciness like a hot Mexican chocolate. Take a bite, sip some punch. Repeat.

To finish we had the Apple Pie made with puff pastry and stuffed filled with roasted apples and topped with caramel ice cream. A stark contrast to the first dessert, this one was reminiscent of a childhood apple pie, warm and gooey. It’s perfect for the whole family or those who enjoy a traditional classic.

There’s a nice selection of various wines, which has increased significantly from their last offerings and I found both the Il Feduccio Cerasuolo Rose and the Rusina Cabernet Sauvignon a nice compliment to the various plates we had. The Rusina was a nice full bodied fruit forward wine that was clean on the palate and well balanced. It held up well against the spicy tanginess of the Korean flavours without overpowering them.

For those interested in cocktails, one not to be missed is their infamous Shin Ramen Ceasar, made with a mix of anju’s secret spices, the outcome tastes just like the ramen noodle cups that I remember savoring as a child. Combine it with a thirst quenching ceasar and what’s not to love?

My Picks: Crispy Tofu, Oxtail Tortellini, Mussels & Clams, Lemongrass Brussels Sprouts

Overall: It was exciting to find out that Anju took over the corner spot of 4th and 17th, a great location that was left empty for far too long. Not only does the new space look amazing, but the dishes are equally so. I couldn’t wait to order my favorites but how quickly I realized that the new dishes have gained my adoration. Welcome back the bigger and bolder Anju!

Anju Restaurant
344 17 Ave SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 460-3341
Website: anju.ca

Anju Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Canvas Bistro's Autumn Menu Launch

>> Thursday, September 4, 2014

Now that fall is just around the corner many restaurants are starting to roll out their autumn menus featuring seasonal ingredients. A couple of us were lucky enough to be invited to Canvas to preview their fall menu which officially rolls out this month. Before we started Chef Guru Singh mentioned that the menu at Canvas is meant for sharing and the dinner was laid out to showcase his preferred way of sampling the food – family style.

We were treated a number of different appetizers starting with a light Bocconcini Carrot Salad. When the plate arrived it looked like a painting with splashes of color from the rainbow carrots and beets, accented by the pesto oil and crispy basil on top. Whimsical and inviting the plate really pleased all senses and was a nice play on the traditional Italian bocconcini salad. The frying of the basil really enhanced the aromas of the herb and the dish was a beautiful way to start off our meal.

It was hard to miss the aroma of the Risotto when it entered the room. Truffle oil brings elegance to any dish when incorporated perfectly and this was a classic use of the ingredient. Creamy arborio rice cooked with saffron and topped with wild mushrooms and black truffle oil. I do prefer my rice a bit more al dente but aside from that everything was excuted well. I could probably eat this for the rest of the evening.

Our Filet Mignon appetizer was presented in a deconstructed format with the filet resting on top of a phyllo wrapped mushroom pastry and served with a creamy pea puree resembling a beef wellington. It was a creative twist on a classic and in this case it worked out well. It was fun to try some of the meat with and without the pastry elements allowing the guest to choose which they preferred, but in the end everything was devoured.

The next two courses were presented at the same time. The Rabbit was braised and served similar to a rillette style with bell peppers and roasted garlic that is meant to be eaten on top of an olive naan crisp. The rabbit itself was extremely well seasoned and I could have easily eaten it all on its own, but the naan was a nice additional making the dish more interactive. The Prawns were accompanied by spinach pulled pork, sundried tomatoes and some charred lemon on the side. My favorite on this dish was the pulled pork, savory and moist, it was sublime.

I was nearing capacity at this point due to all the wonderful appetizers and libations, but the entrees were up next and I had to muster up some room to forge on. The Duck Breast was complemented with a hearty seven bean sauce, such as chickpeas, black beans, red beans, kidney beans, black eyed peas and more! The dish tasted like home with the robust sauce reminiscent of a heartwarming chili on a cold winter’s day, a perfect dish for fall!

Next came the Seafood course and it sure did make an entrance, served over sizzling hot stones, the basa was wrapped in banana leaves with sweet pears, carrots, coconut milk and lemongrass, a true fusion dish. We were afraid that the hot stones would overcook the fish but that wasn’t the case. The basa was done to perfection. The fragrant spices mixed with the aromas of lemongrass which all got absorbed in to the vegetables making them sweet and juicy, just lovely with the rice that was served on the side. I was quite surprised at how delightful the pears tasted and it was a hit among all guests that evening.

At this point, it was tough to not throw in the towel so to speak but we still had the dessert course left. The platter was composed by Brulee Patisserie and consisted of Chocolate Ganache Cups which were dark and decadent, a true chocolate lovers dream. The Walnut Brownie was rich and chewy with a nice textural crunch of the walnuts, the third being a Coconut Lime Cakelet the lightest of the three dessert offerings where the tang of the lime and the milky coconut was a nice compliment to each other.

Everything that evening was perfectly executed from the wonderful plating and presentation to the artistic dining room featuring various pieces of artwork from the Gerry Thomas Gallery (including a cozy outdoor patio with fireplace). There is no better name for this restaurant then the one that it already has, a true Canvas for Chef Singh’s creativity.

Canvas Bistro
602 11 Ave SW
Calgary, AB
(587) 353-1299
Website: canvascoffeeandwine.com

Canvas Bistro on Urbanspoon

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