Category Archives: Food

My Calgary: Pigeonhole

Eating at a hyped up restaurant can be dangerous. When an eatery comes highly recommended by trusted friends or has been given prestigious awards, it’s easy to come in with sky-high expectations and be disappointed when the food doesn’t quite measure up. I’d eaten at Pigeonhole prior to its Air Canada Best New Restaurant win, but last week was Zevi’s first time at the restaurant, and we were counting on a meal worthy of a big winner! Spoiler alert: it lived up to our expectations and then some! 

Pigeonhole scored points with me before I even walked in to the restaurant because of their small-plates format. Choosing what to eat at a restaurant is always an incredibly agonizing ordeal for me, so what could be better than getting to sample five dishes instead of just one! Even with the opportunity to choose multiple dishes, though, Zevi and I had a pretty hard time picking just five plates to share. The menu is divided into vegetables, meat, seafood, seasonal, and dessert categories, and we were tempted by so many of the offerings from each section.

 After we’d come to a hard-won consensus, we were presented with our first two dishes. The lamb tartare and tuna crudo, much like the other dishes we’d eat through the course of the evening, came out on adorable mismatched saucers that looked like they’d been stolen from my grandmother’s china cabinet (or maybe a hipster’s apartment ;). My enthusiasm for the plates was soon forgotten as I took my first bite of silky raw tuna with bright radish and the perfect crunchy pop of crispy puffed rice. Slathered on crusty bread oozing with burnt onion butter, the lamb was gone in a flash. If Pigeonhole started selling that burnt onion butter my toast would be dripping with it every day of the week!

Things only got better as our next three dishes made their appearance. Pillowy ricotta and spinach dumplings begged to be broken open and dunked in their lucious mushroom sauce. Every bite of halloumi was both soft and chewy, its saltiness perfectly complimented by mini bites of beet and caper. Zevi and I consider ourselves semipro-level halloumi connoisseurs, and we’ve never made any that’s close to as good as Pigeonhole’s. The flank steak, cooked to medium rare perfection, absolutely blew our minds and made us question everything we knew about cooking beef. Each thinly sliced piece all but melted in my mouth, and I’d be hard pressed to think of a more expertly prepared steak.
The memory of that juicy beef singing on my tongue would have been more than enough to keep me smiling for the rest of the night, but my dessert-loving husband was pretty keen on trying something from the sweet side of the menu. Zevi’s a diehard chocolate guy, so I knew we’d be going with the chocolate pot-de-creme. Rich, dark, and not too sweet, the creme-filled teacup was everything I love in a chocolate indulgence, and the perfect way to end a delicious evening. 

Pigeonhole is not only the best new restaurant in Canada, it’s one of my all-time favourite restaurants in Calgary, and I don’t give out that kind of praise lightly! If you love to share delicious food as much as I do, you should definitely check out this 17th avenue spot. Just save a little flank steak for me, ok?  

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My Five: Favourite Online Recipe Finds

Macheesmo beef slow cooker tacos

I love scouring food blogs and online recipe websites for inspiration and ideas on what to make for dinner. I’ve made countless meals from many different sources and have found some repeat-worthy dishes that are definitely worth checking out! Here are five of my favourite online recipe finds.

1. Macheesmo’s Slow Cooker Korean Beef Tacos

We just bought a slow cooker and this recipe was our first foray into crockpot cooking. If every slow cooker recipe results in meat this tender, juicy, and flavourful, I’ll be taking that thing out of my pantry on a regular basis! With my favourite condiment, gochujang, enhancing the beef’s deep umami flavours and giving it a little bit of spice, these tacos were spot on. I can’t wait to scarf down the leftovers!

2. Pinch of Yum’s Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Rice Noodles

I only recently started following this ultra popular food blog, but I’ve already made a bunch of Lindsay’s recipes. Everything she posts makes my mouth water, and most of her dishes are high on flavour without being overly time consuming. My favourite so far was this asian inspired chicken salad – juicy poached chicken, chewy rice noodles, bright herbs, and a zippy dressing come together for the perfect party in your mouth.

3. Shutterbean’s Curried Chicken with Coconut Rice

This is a recipe I’ve made quite a few times, and I find myself craving it if I haven’t eaten it in a while. Cooking the rice and chicken along with coconut milk, aromatics, and some warming spices, makes for an easy one pot dish that will have you scraping for those brown bits at the bottom. It makes enough for eight people, but luckily it tastes just as good warmed up two or three days later!

4. Spoon Fork Bacon’s Blood Orange and Kale Salad

Just to prove that not everything I eat is asian-inspired, I’m putting this kale salad on the list. Actually, I’m putting it on the list because it’s the best kale salad I’ve ever had, and everyone who tries it agrees! I’ve made it more time than I can count and brought it to potlucks, work parties, and family dinners, and it’s been a hit every time. The tangy dressing balances out the bitterness of the kale, and the goat cheese adds the richness that turns kale haters into believers. I’ve tried it with a variety of different nuts and a few different types of kale, and it’s always tasted terrific.

5. How Sweet It Is’ Beef Enchiladas

I’ve made and loved a ton of Jessica’s recipes, but these beef enchiladas have probably been the biggest hit. I love how the tortillas slathered in chili-infused tomato sauce soften and absorb the delicious flavours of the beef, and the cheesy topping melts and browns beautifully. Enchiladas are the sassier sister to lasagna, and these ones pack a punch.

I’ve found so many other great recipes in the great wide internet, but these are a few that I wholeheartedly recommend. What are your favourite food blog finds?

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My Calgary: Mugshotz

Mugshotz dill pickle wings

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, so much of the best food I’ve eaten comes from places without beautiful decor or a high end price tag. That is definitely true when it comes to Mugshotz, a bar in Calgary’s South East that’s about as divey as they come. With one of the city’s radio stations, complete with ads, playing over the speakers, splotchy formica tables, and fluorescent lighting, Mugshotz isn’t a place you come for the ambience, or for Instagram-worthy food photos. It is, however, a place you come for the wings.

Mugshotz wings two plates

Mugshotz wing flavours

I’ve tried my fair share of chicken around Calgary and beyond, and when it comes to wing night, Mugshotz beats my neighbourhood haunts by a long shot. If you’re looking for something standard, you can find hot, honey garlic, salt and pepper, teriyaki and all of the usual suspects on the menu. They make a mean medium according to Zevi, who’s a bit of a hot wings connoisseur. For those of us who like something a little more outside the box, Mugshotz delivers in a big way, with a whole host of flavours that you won’t find anywhere else, or at least anywhere else that I’ve been. The Sweet and Sour Sriracha has a subtler heat than your typical Franks-doused chicken, and the tangy spice makes for a much interesting bite than the usual one-note hot wing. The Louisiana Garlic Parmesan is another favourite – how can you go wrong with a thick coating of savoury, salty cheese? The Dill Pickle wings come covered with crunchy chunks of real pickle, one of many flavours accompanied by fun garnishes. There are so many types that I still want to try, and with Soy Sensation, Sultry Ginger, and Raspberry Chipotle calling my name, I’ll have to head back for more soon.

Mugshotz wings close up

Great flavours make Mugshotz unique, but the quality of the wings themselves make the place truly awesome. There are no bony, overcooked bites to be found here, and the meat melts in your mouth the way a great piece of fried chicken should. I’m partial to the mini drumsticks, and there were plenty of meaty ones to be found on my plate.

There are lots of spots servings wings on a Wednesday, but I’m more than willing to go out of my way to eat the ones Mugshotz is serving. At eight dollars a pound, they’re not the cheapest wings in the city, but you won’t lament the price tag when you bite in to that first piece of juicy, flavourful chicken. If you’re looking for cheap beer and a top-notch version of the most classic of bar snacks, Mugshotz is the place to go!

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On Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping

There aren’t many chores I’m wild about, but grocery shopping is one that I actually look forward to every week. For the past few years I’ve done the vast majority of the grocery shopping for Zevi and me, and it’s one of those errands I never feel like passing off.

I suppose it shouldn’t be all that surprising, based on my love for anything and everything food related, that grocery shopping isn’t something I dread, but it occurred to me today that most people don’t get much joy from walking up and down the aisles of their neighbourhood supermarket. I don’t mind driving from one store to another to find what I want, or going to specialty stores to get the obscure ingredients I need. I love browsing for the week’s essentials at off peak times when it’s quiet and I have lots of room to explore. I like to go by myself, so that I can walk slowly and haphazardly around as I try to find what I need. I try to stick to a list, but one or two random finds usually end up sneaking in to my cart.

I honestly don’t get all that much pleasure out of browsing for clothes or accessories, but I could walk around The Cookbook Co. Cooks, or Silk Road Spices, or any Asian grocery store for a long time, just and seeing what kind of interesting things are available. I love to window shop at farmers markets and check out the unique stuff that each vendor has on offer. Being in those places inspires me to try new things when I’m cooking, and to think outside the flavour box. Screw designer jeans, I’m all about high end olive oils and fancy finishing salt.

When I travel, I love to walk around grocery stores and see the things that are available that would be hard to find at home. In South America, I would linger in the aisles, looking over the strange products that I’d never seen before. I love to learn about a culture through food, and supermarkets are my version of a museum.

Do you like shopping for food, or do you dread it? Does anyone want to hire me to be their personal grocery shopper ;)?

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Easter Weekend at the Cabin

Drive home from Shuswap

I made the long drive home from the cabin with my brother today. It’s nice to be back in the land of wifi and reliable internet, but it was pretty hard to leave BC on such a beautiful, sunny day! We ate our lunch outside in Revelstoke in the warm sunshine and there was a brief moment where I contemplated staying right where I was instead of coming home to snowy Alberta.

Shuswap fire Shuswap wood pile Shuswap Julia breaking picnic tableShuswap vertebrae Shuswap buds

Signs of spring were all over the place at the cabin. Buds were starting to peek out of the ground and appear on the trees, and the dock was starting to float out in to the water as the lake level began to rise up to it’s lofty early summer levels. We did some work to get the outdoor areas ready for a new season of fun, including working in the garden and burning some leftover firewood. Someone also decided it was time to get rid of our old decaying picnic table so we got to do some demolition, which is always a good time.

Shuswap Benny Dad Shuswap Benny on deck Shuswap Benny sniffing Shuswap Benny dirty face Shuswap Benny high ten
Shuswap canoeing

Although I’ve never heard him say it, I’m pretty sure that the cabin is as close to paradise as you can get for Benny. Instead of being stuck inside all day, he got to sprint along the beach and through the forest trails to his hearts content. Between my parents and brother and sister, he was pretty much lavished with constant attention, and he always had someone to play with. He even went for a canoe ride one day! With so much running to do and so many interesting things to smell, he was always absolutely exhausted at the end of each day. For a dog who seems to have never ending energy when he’s in the city, it’s amazing to see how truly tired out the cabin life makes him.

Shuswap Easter egg hunt Julia Stephen Shuswap easter egg hunt StephenShuswap easter egg hunt chocolatesDSC01387Shuswap hamShuswap Easter dinner

Of course it was Easter weekend, so we couldn’t forget about the chocolate and amazing food. My mom came up with an elaborate rhyming treasure hunt on Saturday morning that lead us to some delicious goodies. I love that she realizes that her twenty something year old children are still kids at heart ;). That night we made an incredible easter dinner. The piece de resistance was a gorgeous glazed ham that came out beautifully moist and dreamier than I could have imagined. Can a ham be dreamy? I don’t know, but it’s the stuff that my dreams are made of. We also made roasted potatoes, butternut squash puree, kale chips, and steamed asparagus, which were all incredible as well. I missed taking a picture of the key lime pie we had for dessert, but trust me when I say that it was citrusy perfection. We always eat so well at the cabin, which, predictably, is one of my favourite parts of being out there.

Shuswap selfie DSC01380 Shuswap dock view Shuswap woodpile view

It’s good to be home, but I’ll miss the relaxed vibe, beautiful view, and quality family time until I get back to the Shuswap again.

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My Calgary: OEB

OEB eggs benedict

I still remember the first time Zevi and I visited OEB. We tried to go to a well known breakfast joint down the street, but since there was such a huge line up we decided to take a chance on a little spot that had just opened a few doors down. It may have been the one and only Saturday in its existence when we could just walk right in and get a table! I was instantly impressed, and had a feeling that that it would become a favourite.

Let’s be honest, the last thing I really want is for OEB to gain more popularity. There are already hordes of people spilling out the doors on weekend mornings, and even on a weekday you’ll probably have to wait a few minutes to score a seat. As much as I’d love to keep it to myself, though, there’s no way I could talk about my favourite spots in Calgary without mentioning this gem.

The number one thing everyone mentions when they talk about OEB are those potatoes. And man are they some incredible potatoes – the best ones in Calgary in my books. If a french fry and a hash brown made sweet sweet love, OEB’s breakfast potatoes would be their offspring. The wedges of potato are fried to crispy perfection, and seasoned with just enough special spices to make you wonder exactly what they sprinkled on there to make them so addictive. Anyone who doesn’t order these in some form gets a serious side eye from me. Zevi’s lucky I let him steal some of mine ;).

OEB Duck PoutineOEB soul in a bowl

OEB has a mind-bogglingly expansive menu, so basically any breakfast items you can think of, and some you’ve never dreamed of, are there for the taking. From crepes to eggs to toast of all kinds, it’s on the menu. I often find myself gravitating towards the “Box’d” section of the menu, which features some wildly creative, and, more importantly, wildly delicious breakfast poutines made with those delicious potatoes. You really can’t go wrong with melty, squeaky curds and crispy spuds, topped with bacon, duck, or even fois gras. They’re pretty much breakfast perfection in a cute little take out box, and so easy to take home to snack on later if you can’t digest all of those saucy carbs in one go.

OEB Zevi

If you’re looking for the best breakfast in Calgary, I know many people will agree with me when I say you’ll find it at OEB. You might have to wait a while to get in on a weekend, but now that they’re using the NoWait app, you can put your name down in the comfort of your own home and just wait for the text saying your table is ready. There’s pretty much nothing stopping you from stopping in now! Just save some potatoes for me, ok?

OEB

824 Edmonton Trail NE

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Brunch Parties

Brunch Julia and ZeviBrunch saturday one

I love having people over, especially when there is food involved. Dinner parties are the classic choice, but lately I’ve hosted a couple of brunch get togethers and I’ve really loved having people over earlier in the day! They’re usually a bit more casual, no one’s worried about spending a ton of time on hair and make up because you’ve all just rolled out of bed, and there’s no need to worry about appetizers or dessert.

Brunch Saturday twoBrunch mango mint lassis

Here are a few things I’ve learned about hosting brunch that you might find helpful should you ever want to give it a try.

  • Do as much prep as possible the night before. When you’re crawling out of bed in the morning, you want to have as little as possible to do before your guests show up. Don’t leave yourself a ton of cooking to do in the morning before everyone shows up and you will feel much more relaxed! Last Saturday, I made these baked eggs, which I’d made with success in the past, and I was able to do everything other than cracking the eggs in to the dish and baking them on Friday night. I also made these potatoes, which are always a hit, and I boiled the potatoes the night before so I just had to smash them and bake them in the morning. I also cut up a bunch of the fruit for the fruit salad so that I only had a bit of chopping to do on the day of. Zevi and I made a delicious baked caramelized banana french toast a couple of weeks ago that we just had to pop in the oven in the morning, which made things a total breeze. You never know what will come up, or how may cocktails you’ll have the night before, so being extra prepared is the way to go.
  • Master your coffee making set up in advance. Coffee is pretty key to most peoples’ wake up routine, so it better be on point! We normally use a two shot stovetop espresso maker in the mornings but that wasn’t going to suffice for a group of six people, so I had to use our Chemex. We’ve had the thing for years, but I’ve barely used it, so I was frantically googling tutorials and watching youtube videos on Saturday morning. The coffee turned out ok, but I wish I’d done a couple of test runs with the Chemex to get the system down pat beforehand.
  • Make something you love, but don’t be too ambitious. Your friends are counting on you to provide their first meal of the day, so maybe don’t try out that amazing looking souffle you’ve never made before that has a high chance of failure. Brunch should be fun, and you don’t want to be stressed about things not working out on a weekend morning.
  • Make something that doesn’t need to be eaten immediately. Things get a little unpredictable on a Saturday morning. Sometimes alarms don’t go off, or hangovers are raging, or people are just a little slow to get themselves out the door. Whatever the reason, it’s highly likely that someone you invited won’t show up on time, so making something like that’s best eaten right as it’s finished cooking, like scrambled eggs, can prove problematic. You’ll have more success and feel less stress with something that’s still great after sitting for a few minutes.
  • Most of all, don’t sweat the small stuff. I tend to obsess over what I’m going to make when I’m having people over, whether it be for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but I try to remind myself that people really aren’t going to be that upset if their yolk isn’t perfectly runny or you burn a couple of potatoes. As long as you don’t give them food poisoning, your friends are going to be grateful for the opportunity to get together and chat above all else. Yes, it’s great to be mindful of the food you’re making, but in the end what you’re eating is secondary to the conversation.

The first meal of the day is often so rushed, so it’s fun to have the opportunity to sit down and eat something delicious in the morning. I’ve loved having people over for brunch recently, and I can’t wait to do it again soon!

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Morimoto Napa

Zevi in front of Morimoto fish wall

We ate a lot of great food when we were in Napa a couple of weeks ago, but the big standout for us was Morimoto Napa. Based on Morimoto’s title as Iron Chef and all of the fame and prestige that comes with that, we were afraid that the restaurant might be all style and no substance, but when we tasted the food we couldn’t have cared less whose name was on the front of the building.

Morimoto kitchen Morimoto Heather

Don’t get me wrong, though, the place has plenty of style. As we walked in, I was immediately captivated by the oversized fish mural. How can I get one of those for my kitchen? The dining room was polished and elegant, and the music was just at the right volume for good conversation. I loved peeking over at the brightly lit sushi bar to see an army of chefs working behind display cases filled with raw fish. There aren’t many sights more beautiful to me than giant slabs of raw salmon and tuna waiting to be turned into delicious sashimi.

Morimoto carpaccio

We were enticed by some of the creative main courses, but we decided to share a few of the smaller plates instead. I love to eat off of everyone’s plate so sharing is always right up my alley! We started with the meltingly tender waygu beef tartare, thin strips of beef brightened up with a sweet ginger-garlic sauce.

Morimoto sashimi

Next up was the most unexpected dish of the evening. We’d ordered the Morimoto sashimi, which was described as “seared toro, salmon, eel, tuna, hamachi, five sauces”. I’d expected the fish to be presented in the regular sashimi style, but I’d forgotten that we weren’t at my neighbourhood sushi joint (which I love, by the way). I was surprised and intrigued when the we were presented with the plate pictured above. The pieces of fish were layered one on top of the other, each with a different mini garnish, and accompanying them were droppers filled with the aforementioned five sauces. The server demonstrated how to put little drops of each sauce on to our plate and dip our fish towers in as we saw fit. I wouldn’t want to eat my sashimi like this every day, but I really appreciated the whimsical and creative presentation. Most importantly, the fish was delicious!

Morimoto fried rice Morimoto bone marrow

I’m a sucker for a runny yolk, and egg on top of our duck fried rice provided the perfect mix-in for this flavourful dish. While the fried rice was good, the bone marrow was a true standout. I’d been eager to try bone marrow for some time now, and I managed to get Zevi on board. We were both glad we’d jumped on that train! The marrow was silky smooth, and the spiced panko breadcrumbs cut its luscious richness just enough. We were still trying to scoop out more of that heavenly stuff even when we knew in our hearts that we’d eaten every last drop.

Morimoto sushi

When sushi’s on the menu there’s no way I won’t order at least a little bit of plain old raw fish. While this was the simplest thing we ate that night, it was probably my favourite. The fish was extremely fresh with a perfectly firm texture, and the rice was expertly prepared. In fact, it was so good that we ordered another round!

Morimoto dessert

After seeing how inventive our savoury courses had been, we were eager to check out what the chefs at Morimoto had up their sleeves on the sweet side of things. We ordered the “s’more”, and while this wasn’t your campfire special, when we ate all of the components together we could certainly identify one of our favourite summer treats. The presentation was gorgeous too, and there were no sticky hands in sight.

We were thoroughly impressed with Morimoto, and I would make a point to go back there if I return to Napa. It’s definitely a special occasion type of place, but if you’re looking for a high end meal in California’s wine country, it’s certainly worth checking out.

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Napa Valley – What We Ate

Addendum flowers

If you know me, you know that my main goal when I travel is to find and eat delicious food. The Napa Valley is wine country first and foremost, but all of those wine obsessed tourists bring a lot of money in with them which means that there are lots of world class restaurants to choose from. We barely scratched the surface of the dining scene when we were there, but we did eat some pretty delicious meals!

Ca'Momi cheeseboard Ca'Momi prosciutto and burrata Ca'Momi pizzas

The evening after our wine tour we got together with the rest of our group and went to Ca’Momi, an Italian restaurant in downtown Napa’s Oxbow Market. We sat on their covered patio which was perfect for a large group and plenty warm on a spring evening. Zevi and I had actually visited this place on our last trip to Napa, and the crust was as perfectly chewy and tender as I remembered. I’d filled up on too much free cheese and fruit at our bed and breakfast before heading out for dinner so I wasn’t able to enjoy as many of the appetizers as I would have liked to, but they looked great as well. The menu is huge, and there’s really something on there for everyone. To me, the crust is the defining element of a restaurant that claims to be making authentically italian pizza, and this was some of the best I’ve had outside of Italy.

Bouchon coffee and pastry

It’s hard to talk about food in the Napa Valley without renowned chef Thomas Keller’s name making its way in to the conversation. While we weren’t planning on making a trip to the highly touted French Laundry, I did want to sample some of his offerings, so we made a stop at Bouchon Bakery. Located in Yountville, or “Thomas Keller-ville”, as one shop employee in a nearby town jokingly called it, Bouchon is celebrated for its amazing pastries, breads, and other baked goods. We tried the monkey bread, and it was incredible. I was expecting more of a cinnamon bun type of dough, but it was actually almost as light and flaky as a croissant. The salted caramel glaze gave it amazing flavour, and every bite had me wishing I could try one of everything Bouchon had to offer.

Zevi at Solbar Duck bahn mi at Solbar Fish tacos at Solbar

We spent one day laying off the wine and driving to check out a few of the towns in the area. Solbar is part of the Solange Hotel in Calistoga, and we stopped there for lunch during our travels. The weather was sunny and gorgeous, so we sat on their beautiful patio and sampled their globally influenced fare. The duck in my bahn mi sandwich was extremely tender and juicy, and the cucumbers and jalapeños provided a great crunch, but the bread could have been better. The mango slaw on the side may have actually stolen the show – I loved the tart bite of the barely ripe fruit. The flavour (and the gorgeous plating!) of Zevi’s fish tacos was spot on, and I loved the pickled cabbage that accompanied them. It was a beautiful spot to grab a bite and wish just a little bit that we could sneak in to their pool and soak up some sun on such a gorgeous day.

Lunch at V.Sattui Lunch at V.Sattui

If you need some lunch during a busy day of wine tasting, or if you just need a little something in your stomach to soak up some of that vino, I would highly recommend heading to V.Sattui. Not only do they offer great wine and a top notch tasting experience, they also have a deli where you can buy delicious food to eat at picnic tables outside. It was hard to choose what to get from their dizzying selection of cheese, charcuterie, breads, salads, and warm entrees, but in the end we went with a baguette, a couple of cheeses, a golden beet salad, some truffle mac and cheese, and some prosciutto (just for me, of course). Everything was delicious, and we (Zevi) left feeling ready to make the drive back to town.

Addendum sign Addendum meal Addendum Heather

When I heard that Addendum, another Thomas Keller spot, was opening up for the season, I knew I didn’t want to leave the Napa Valley without paying it a visit. On our last day in the area, we made a stop in Yountville to try some fried chicken in a gorgeous garden setting. At Addendum, you get the choice of either fried chicken, pulled pork, or pork ribs, plus whatever two sides they are serving that day. As tempted as I was to go for the pork, after reading many rave reviews of the chicken I just had to try it, and I knew that stealing a bite of Zevi’s wouldn’t suffice. After ordering from a little shack in the back, we sat down at a table with our sides, which that day were a macaroni and a beet salad. I knew I’d enjoy the beets, but I’m normally not a fan of mayo based pasta salads so I was surprised by how much I loved Addendum’s version! The fried chicken was even better than advertised, with ultra crunchy skin and tender, juicy meat. The flaky salt and rosemary sprinkled on top made it extra flavourful, and Zevi and I agreed that it was some of our favourite fried chicken ever.

I love the opportunity to try amazing wine in the Napa Valley, but the food scene is another great reason to head there. Among all of these great meals, I didn’t even talk about our favourite, which was at Morimoto, bus since this post is plennnnty long I’m going to save that for another day.

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First Impressions: Monogram Coffee

Monogram Coffee Julia holding cup

When I heard that Jeremy Ho and Ben Put were gearing up to launch a new coffee project in Calgary, I was excited. Both have been crowned Canadian Barista Champion, and, along with Monogram Coffee‘s third cofounder Justin Eyford, they have extensive experience working at Phil and Sebastian, one of my long-time Calgary favourites. Zevi and I took a coffee brewing methods class with Jeremy a couple of years ago, so we got to experience his amazingly in depth coffee knowledge first-hand. I couldn’t wait to see what these pros would bring to our city’s burgeoning coffee scene.Monogram Coffee DaDe Gallery

Monogram’s first venture was a little coffee bar in a corner of Inglewood’s DaDe Gallery. They opened in time to take advantage of the holiday hustle and bustle and get their name out there before their Altadore cafe was ready to go. I was eager to check them out when we got home from South America so I stopped in during a Christmas shopping mission. The coffee was just as good as I expected, and I loved the excuse to check out a quirky art gallery that I normally just walk by. It sounds like they’ve found a great home in Inglewood and are planning on keeping their spot in DaDe Gallery for the foreseeable future. Inglewood coffee lovers rejoice!

Monogram Coffee cafe interior Monogram Coffee cafe vignetteMonogram Coffee bags

After much anticipation, Julia and I checked out Monogram’s new Altadore cafe this morning. This is their first week open, but there was no shortage of excited caffeine addicts flowing through the door. Nestled between a liquor store and a convenience store in a small strip mall in the south Calgary community of Altadore, you’d risk missing it if you blinked on your drive by. Seating in the cafe is limited, but what they do have is beautiful – a rustic wooden bench sits in the front corner and a communal table cuts the room in half. Its small size means it’s probably not somewhere I’d go if I wanted to sit and do work for a couple of hours, but it makes for a very intimate setting with excellent service. The candy coloured bags of beans and soft blue pendant lights add a colourful pop to the white walls and ceiling.

Monogram Coffee cappucino Monogram Coffee Julia holding cup 2

Of course, what really matters is the coffee, and my cappuccino was spot on. Smooth and rich but not too milky, my drink was made just the way I like it, and that’s what will keep me coming back for more. The friendliness of the staff certainly doesn’t hurt either. We chatted with Jeremy for a few minutes on our way out, and he told us that they hoped to make high end coffee more approachable, which is what prompted them go in a “cute” direction with their coffee bean bag and to go cup designs. Whatever the reason, it’s working for me, and I kind of want all of the Monogram-branded things, including one of their beautiful handle-less ceramic mugs. Don’t you?

Monogram Coffee

4814 16 St. S.W.

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