Tag Archives: Calgary

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!

Tagged , ,

Live Curling Action at the 2015 Brier

The Brier - Cheers

I can’t explain how it happened, but some time during my high school years I got pretty into curling. That interest quickly grew in to a full-blown obsession, and before long I was watching every draw of the Scotties and the Brier and checking box scores and stats online when I wasn’t near a TV. This is especially strange since the only curling I’ve ever done was in a couple of very recreational bonspiels where there may have been more drinking of beers than throwing of rocks but nonetheless, I’ve looked forward to the late February/early March Season of Champions for many years. I was especially excited about the national men’s curling championship this year as it would be taking place at Calgary’s very own Saddledome!

Brier Ice view

Brier ice sheets

My uncle was given a bunch of tickets by a friend and was generous enough to donate some to me. The seats were in the 11th row, and I couldn’t help but think about how great a spot it would have been for a Flames game, but seeing some high level curling action from only a few rows up was pretty awesome too. I watch a lot of curling on TV, but I don’t think you can get a true appreciation of how much precision and accuracy these guys are throwing with unless you’re watching live. With four games going there was almost always something happening, and we often felt like our heads were spinning trying to figure out which sheet to watch! I did miss the commentary and the strategy talk you get to listen to when you watch on TSN, though.

Brier with Stephen Brier popcornBrier Heather and Julia selfie

There aren’t a lot of people younger than my Grandma that get as excited about curling as I do, but each of my siblings was nice enough to come along with me to one of the draws I had tickets for. I think they ended up having a pretty good time! Julia decided that drinking Saddledome beer through a straw was the way to go, and it definitely proved to be a good spill preventing strategy. I wanted to check out the Patch, the much-talked-about Brier bar, so Julia and I headed over there after our afternoon draw. We weren’t in much of a partying mood that day, so we stayed just long enough to see some giant Jenga and hear a girl sing Shania Twain karaoke.

It was a lot of fun watching really fit guys (seriously, have you seen how ripped some of them are?) throw around some heavy granite. The highlight was being only metres away from Brad Gushue’s mind-blowing shot that was probably the best of the tournament. Even though it was against the hometown team, the crowd went wild. Seeing something like that live is pretty special!

Tagged , , ,

My Calgary: Blue Star Diner

Calgary’s got so many great places to eat and things to see, and I think they deserve some love. In this series, I’m going to talk about the places that I think make Calgary such a great place to be.Blue Star

Take a drive down the main drag of Calgary’s trendy Bridgeland neighbourhood on a weekend morning, and you’ll most certainly see a group of brunch lovers waiting for a table at a little whitewashed cafe. While it isn’t as miniature as its sister restaurant, Dairy Lane, Blue Star Diner‘s cozy interior isn’t big enough to accommodate the ten AM Saturday crowd that shows up in search of the restaurant’s delicious fare. As these patient diners know, though, the wait is well worth it.

Blue Star Diner bar

Blue Star Diner Mom and Grandma

While I’ve happily waited my turn on lazy mornings in the past, my most recent trip to the diner was on a Thursday at lunch time. After a few minutes of admiring the beautiful robin’s egg blue-backed open shelving behind the bar as we waited for a larger table to free up, we were seated by the window, which was perfect for both people watching and for getting that all-important natural light for food photos (kidding…sort of).

Blue Star Diner yam fries

To get the meal started, we ordered a bowl of yam fries to share. I don’t know what kind of magic they work on the potatoes before they put them in the fryer, but they managed to achieve the much sought after combination of a light, crunchy outside and a silky-soft interior. My Grandma declared them the best yam fries she’d ever tasted, and when someone’s made 92 trips around the sun their opinion shouldn’t be taken lightly!

Blue Star Diner Pulled Pork Hash Blue Star Diner grilled cheese

We may have officially been there for lunch, but that wasn’t going to stop me from ordering from the breakfast menu. Who says that delicious breakfast foods should be reserved for early in the morning? My pulled pork hash was subtly spiced and full of tender peppers and creamy yams, and the pork was perfectly juicy and shreddable with the touch of a fork. The runny yolks from the poached eggs were a delicious mix-in, and the thick cornbread sticks provided the perfect vehicle for soaking up extra sauce. Everyone else gave rave reviews for their dishes as well, with the only niggle being a few too many onions on my dad’s grilled cheese.

Blue Star obviously shines in the early hours of the day, but they shouldn’t be overlooked for dinner. They make a mean traditional margarita, one of my favourite drinks, and I’ve had to restrain myself from scooping up the last bits of their guacamole with my fingers. They’ve got burgers ranging from beef, to chicken, to lamb, to veggie, and they’re all top notch. I’m always tempted by their tacos, but have yet to pull the trigger. Something to look forward to for my next visit!

Whether it’s breakfast, brunch, or burgers you’re after, Blue Star Diner is a great Calgary choice. I could go for one of those margaritas right about now…

Blue Star Diner

801 1st Ave NE

Tagged , , , ,