The Art of Sushi Making and Gift Card Giveaway!

>> Friday, June 26, 2015

With summer in full swing, the warm weather has got me craving foods that are lighter, especially items that are raw or cooling for the body. When I think raw, the first thing that pops to mind is sushi and what better time than to make homemade sushi to satisfy those cravings! Or for those who want to just enjoy the sushi, I have a gift card giveaway below to Edo Japan, scroll down for more info!

There are several types of sushi that can be found on the typical Japanese menu, Nigiri Sushi, which are individual pieces of rice topped with different selections of fish. The whole piece is usually dipped in soy sauce and consumed all at once. In Japan it is frowned upon to take small bites of nigiri, it is seen as disrespectful to the sushi chef, so remember to eat it in one bite when you’re there! We’re a bit more lax on sushi tradition here in Canada so feel free to eat as you will.

Another popular option are rolls, there are two types, the Maki Roll, which have the rice and other items on the inside and the Outsider or California roll, named for not its origin but for people who ate it and enjoyed the fusion style. The rice is found on the outside of the roll with different fillings on the inside. My favorite sushi to make at home are these two types of rolls and below I walk you briefly through the steps of doing so. As for fillings and toppings, the sky is the limit, feel free to play around with different flavour combinations or stay to the classics such as spicy tuna or even kappa (cucumber) rolls if you’re looking for something more traditional.

Maki Roll

Lay the nori (seaweed) on top of the bamboo sushi mat. These can be found at any Asian supermarket and are quite affordable.

Put sushi rice – recipe here - on the bottom third of the seaweed – edge closest to you.

Place the fish and other ingredients on top of the rice near the bottom.

Slowly lift the sushi bamboo mat and fold it over about a third and squeeze tightly.

Lift up the remaining portion of the bamboo mat and continue the rolling motion until the rest of the seaweed is all rolled under, give it another good squeeze for good measure.

Now cut the roll in exact halves and then cut them in half again to form 8 equal sections.

To avoid the knife from sticking to the roll, clean and wipe the knife between each slice.

California or Outsider Roll - are made similarly to the normal maki roll however the rice is on the outside. The process is similar to the maki roll except for the beginning.

Lay the nori (seaweed) on top of the bamboo sushi mat.

Put the sushi rice on the bottom third of the nori.

Put any topping you’d like on top of the rice to brighten up the roll and provide a color contrast, this is what will appear on top of the roll when you plate it, tobiko, sesame or even different types of fish are often used.

Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the rice.

Now carefully lift the whole piece of seaweed up and flip it over to the plastic wrap side and rotate it 180 degrees with the nori without rice facing you, the rice portion away from you – this will ensure the rice will be on the outside.

Put the ingredients on the bottom of the seaweed.

The rest of the steps are the same as the maki roll.

Slowly lift the bamboo mat and fold it over about a third and squeeze tightly.

Lift up the remaining portion of the bamboo mat and continue the rolling motion until the rest of the seaweed is all rolled under, give it another good squeeze for good measure.

Now cut the roll in exact halves and then cut them in half again to form 8 equal sections. You either cut the roll with or without the plastic wrap still covering the roll. If you leave the plastic wrap on top it will ensure that the roll remains intact. If you're confident that the roll will hold it's shape then you can remove it prior to cutting.

To avoid the knife from sticking to the roll, clean and wipe the knife between each slice.

And there you have it, two different types of sushi rolls that are perfect for a summer patio party or even a dinner get together. For those who are more sushi eaters rather than sushi makers. Edo Japan is currently featuring different types of sushi rolls at all their stores. For those interested in sampling some of their sushi, I am giving away a GIFT CARD to Edo Japan! Please leave a comment below and I will pick a winner in the coming week. Good Luck!


Restaurant Review - Pie Cloud & Bakery

>> Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A new trend has been emerging in Calgary. Lately there seems to be an increase in restaurants that specialize in a particular form of cuisine. Whether it is a specific type like waffles or a specific region like French or Italian. There seems to be a return to basics so to speak and less fusion, which we all know was the buzz word a couple years back. The latest restaurant to join this food revolution in Calgary is Pie Cloud, specializing in, you got it, pies.

Atmosphere: A large dining room featuring warm accents and homey d├ęcor which livens up the space, definitely more contemporary than what comes to mind when thinking of a diner.

Price Range: Mid $10s

Food: Everything sounded incredible and just the type of comfort food we were looking for that day. We decided to start with the savoury BBQ Pork Pie, made with slow smoked pork – pulled and then tossed with BBQ sauce served in a cornmeal crust and topped with creamy mashed potatoes. I really enjoyed the flavours of this pie, it was like eating a pulled pork sandwich but instead of bread, there were creamy mashed potatoes instead. It was definitely hearty and something I’d order again. We opted for a side of fries. They were well seasoned and crispy but not greasy which is important in well-cooked fries.

Pie Cloud also offers quite a few dishes that aren’t in a pie form and the Chicken ‘n Waffles were one of those that caught our eye. It came with two pieces of chicken and two waffles, perfect for sharing. The chicken was moist and tender inside. I found that it had a good flavour and it was definitely cripsy but I did find that the crust was a bit over fried and unfortunately that detracted from the taste slightly. The waffles themselves were ok. They were a bit thinner than the typical American waffles and what I was hoping for but did have good flavour.

For dessert, we had to get the Ultimate Apple Pie with a side of ice cream. You have to order something when it has ‘ultimate’ in the title, plus I just really love a delicious apple pie where the ice cream is literally just the icing on the cake. My favorite part of this dessert was the apples, nicely caramelized with lots of cinnamony goodness. The crust itself was alright, the pastry was nice and all in all a good homey apple pie. If you don't have time to dine in, you can always order your pies to go!

My Pick: BBQ Pork Pie

Overall: It’s extremely refreshing to see a new restaurant in Calgary that’s focused their cuisine on a classic like the pie. I have had the opportunity to visit other establishments around the world that not only feature but also elevate the lowly pie and I am excited to see how Pie Cloud continues to play on the classic flavours while at the same time, taking pies to a whole different level.

Pie Cloud
314D 10 Street NW
Calgary, AB
(403) 802-3141

Click to add a blog post for Pie Cloud on Zomato


Eating It Up in Melbourne

>> Friday, June 5, 2015

Over the last month I’ve noticed that we’ve begun to watch more shows on the new Gusto channel. Gusto is a channel that’s dedicated to food related shows similar to the Food Network. It’s a Canadian channel that feature lots of great local content, but it also airs quite a few shows from Australia and Europe, which I don’t mind what so ever! It’s actually a nice change to watch programs from a country other than the US.

I find that watching these shows about Australia has gotten me nostalgic about the country and all the sights, sounds and of course, the amazing food. Australia is similar to North America in many ways - they speak English, their classic dinner is meat and three veg, not unlike Calgary’s steak and potatoes – but there are many differences as well. Great beaches anyone? There are a ton of great products that we don’t often see here in Canada, Moreton Bay Bugs? They’re actually lobster like crustaceans with a quirky name.

When thinking of food and Australia, Melbourne always comes to mind since it is known as the food capital in Australia. You never know what you’re going to find when roaming Melbourne’s famous laneways. Hidden between the grand art deco buildings and new age skyscrapers of the CBD (Central Business District) are wonderful restaurants, bars and pubs, all surrounded by amazing urban art. These arcades were a result of the laneways used during the Victorian era. Be sure to stop in to some of these great restaurants for a bite and enjoy the atmosphere. I recommend checking out Coda, Silo by Joost, Hardware Society.

Just south of the CBD on Finders Street you’ll see the famous Railway Station and Federation Square. This is a great area for a stroll and you can continue south past the Yarra River to the National Gallery of Victoria and the Shrine of Remembrance. From the top of the shrine, built to commemorate WWI soldiers, you can see Melbourne’s skyline. If you keep going south, you’ll eventually reach St Kilda, a suburb of Melbourne famous for its St Kilda Beach. There are many great places to grab a bite here and I suggest the Stokehouse, situated in a restored 1920s building. You’re bound to find something to your liking in one of their two restuarants – Stokehouse City and Stoke Bar & Kitchen. It’s also a great place to take in the spectacular views of the coastline.

North of the CBD and worth checking out is the Queen Victoria Market, this is a perfect place for those who have a vacation rental and can source out some local ingredients for some delicious home cooking. All the fruits and veg looked amazing and fresh. Another great area is Little Italy on Lygon Street. Here you’ll find amazing restaurants serving pasta and pizza. We tried Mercandante, a family owned Italian eatery that had some pretty amazing pizza offerings. The dough is definitely the star! If you’re up for something sweet, there’s also Brunetti famous for its delicious cakes.

If you’ve got a couple days in Melbourne, I highly suggest traveling on the Great Ocean Road, it’s roughly a 4-5 hour drive from Melbourne starting in Torquay and goes to Allansford. It was built as a memorial for the soldiers who sacrificed their lives during WWI by the soldiers who returned home. We decided to drive directly to the end of the road and work our way backwards towards Melbourne. Because we only had one day to complete the trip and wanted to make sure we didn’t miss the Twelve Apostles, which are 50 meter high limestone formations created through years of water erosion. There are currently only eight stacks left and they continue to be eroded by the ocean waves. I’m glad we did it that way because we got to check out quite a few sites without having to worry that we were going to run out of time (unlike another drive we did in Hawaii). This would definitely be my top must see when in Melbourne. It’s hard to compete with the beauty of Mother Nature.

Just thinking back to our experience in Oz has made me quite sentimental. There were many great memories from our trip around the eastern side of Australia and it’s definitely a place I would love to go back to but I guess for now I’ll just have to suffice with the shows on television that bring the world to me!

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