Tag Archives: food

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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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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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

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Cafayate – Part one

Domingo Molina

Cafayate was pretty far off my radar when we were planning out our time in Argentina. When we started doing research for our road trip, I started to realize that it might be somewhere we’d want to spend a bit of extra time. As it turned out, the city had even more to offer than we’d expected, and we ended up spending a lot more time there than we thought we would.

One of the reasons we had such a great experience in Cafayate was the excellent advice we got at the hostel we stayed in. As soon as we walked in the door, one of the owners sat us down and gave us a full overview of the activities she recommended in and around town. She also showed us a book they’d created that had instructions and maps detailing everything she’d explained to us and how to get to each place she’d suggested. This was SO helpful, and more hostels should really adopt this practice. After her fifteen minute explanation we felt totally prepared to plan out our days in Cafayate. Many of her suggestions involved wine, food, and being outdoors, which was just perfect for us.

Cabras de Cafayate Goats at Cabras de Cafayate Baby goats

Road to Cabras de Cafayate

After we’d dropped our things off in our room and gotten settled at the hostel, we decided to check one of the suggested activities off our list and go for a tour of a local cheese farm. Located a couple of kilometres outside of town, Cabras de Cafayate offers tours every hour on the hour, with a mid day break for lunch. We were lucky enough to be the only people there for the 5:00 tour, so we got our own private visit! They only offer tours in Spanish, so I asked our guide to speak slowly and let me translate for Zevi as we went along and he was happy to oblige. We visited the goats, and even got to see some little babies as it was birthing season. Unfortunately they were a little bit camera shy but just trust me when I say that they were painfully adorable. After learning about the process from milking to transportation to processing to the shaping of the cheese, we got to sample some of the goat and cow cheese that is produced in the farm. It was all delicious, and if we’d been closer to home we definitely would have taken a few different varieties home with us.

Lunch at Piatelli

Chicken at PiatelliPastel de choclo at PiatelliHeather and Zevi in front of PIatelli Wine barrels at Piatelli

The next day it was time to truly get down to business and check out a couple of wineries. The first winery recommended by our hostel was Piatelli. We weren’t surprised to learn that this vineyard had been started by a Californian, as its grand buildings and architecturally impressive grounds reminded us of the wineries we’d visited in Napa a few years ago. Piatelli’s restaurant is touted as one of the best places to eat in the area, so we sat down to grab a bite to eat before taking a tour. We were not disappointed, as Zevi’s chicken was perfectly cooked, my corn pie was full of balanced sweet and savoury flavour, and our bottle of torrontes was crisp and refreshing on the sunny spring afternoon. The beautiful views didn’t hurt either!

When it came time to take a tour, we got lucky again. The next tour was supposed to be in Spanish, but since we were the only ones there at that time our guide agreed to do the explaining in English, which meant that I could leave behind my role as translator for the time being. Though it’s always interesting to learn about each winery’s unique wine making process, we’re always in it mostly for the tasting, so we were excited to sample the wines produced at Piatelli’s Cafayate location at the end of the tour (they also have a location in Mendoza). We were already fans of the Torrontes, but the reds were equally good. I really enjoyed the Cabernet, while Zevi was a fan of the Malbec.

Domingo Molina Vineyards at Domingo Molina

White wines at Domingo Molina

Our second stop that day was at Domingo Molina, a smaller and more unassuming winery than Piatelli. The wines here were some of our favourites of the entire trip, and the entire tasting experience was a highlight for both of us. We were the only ones there that afternoon, and as we sat in the sun overlooking vineyards that stretched to the majestic mountains, sipping wine and munching on cheese and crackers, it seemed that life couldn’t get much better. Although we really enjoyed all of the wines we tasted, the Finca Domingo Torrontes and Cabernet Sauvignon were standouts, and we bought a bottle of each for an astoundingly cheap $14 Canadian. This price included the tasting, which made us feel like we’d really come away with a steal!

We were only planning to stay in Cafayate for two nights, but we loved it so much that we decided to extend our stay for another day! I’ll wrap up our time there in a second post.

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Calgary Poutine Crawl 2014

I’d heard about it on social media in past years, but it was only this year that it was really big on my radar. It had piqued my interest in the past, but I always thought that it sounded just a little too crazy. I mean, eating poutine all day? That’s just a recipe for disaster and an extremely bad case of indigestion, isn’t it? But then I came to my senses and remember how much I love poutine, and how much I love being a part of cool food events going on in our city, and decided that I had to buy tickets. I was one of the lucky 60-some that scored a spot on the crawl (it sold out in ten seconds!!) and brought my fellow foodie friend Alanna along for the gravy-filled ride.

We started our day at Wurst, one of my favourite places for a some late night table dancing and giant beer drinking. I did grab a Stanley Park Pilsner, but only a pint, as I needed to save room in my stomach for all the carbs that I would inevitably consume. Wurst’s poutine had peas, duck confit, a speck sauce, and a little truffle oil to go along with the traditional fries and cheese curds. This one was one of my favourites. The fries were well cooked – crispy, but not overly so, the cheese curds were salty and squeaky, and the truffle oil added that little depth of flavour to put it over the top. I appreciated the small portion size they presented us with as pacing was definitely key on this day.

Wurst poutine

After we had all gobbled up our first course, we hopped on two busses, complete with stripper poles and a sweet sound system, and headed over to National, where Anju‘s Roy Oh was serving his Korean-inspired poutine. Being a lover of all things Korean, and especially all things Anju, this was the stop I was the most excited for. Roy brought us chewy rice cakes, which acted as the fries, with cheese curds, gochujang gravy, lardons, and a little bit of cucumber to add freshness. This was by far the least traditional of all of the poutines, and it may have been that creativity that made me love it so much. Well… it also might have been the gochujang – any dishes that incorporates my favourite condiment of the moment gets full marks from me. As much as I love eating Roy’s food, it always makes me a little sad, too, because I don’t know when I’ll get to have it next. I am chomping at the bit for the opening of Anju 2.0!

Anju poutine

Our next stop was Naina’s Kitchen. I was excited to visit this unassuming strip-mall spot, as I had heard about their amazing stuffed burgers (which I still want to go back and try!). They presented us with a caramelized onion and meatball poutine, with a sweeter gravy that had hints of maple syrup. Although the meatballs were yummy and the gravy was unique, this was probably my least favourite poutine of the day, mostly because the fries were undercooked. The portion was also huge, and while I appreciated their generosity, it took up a bit more room in my stomach than I would have liked.

Naina's poutine

We’d reached the halfway mark, and I was definitely starting to feel a little bit weighed down by the gravy-soaked portions we’d had so far. But we were in it for the long haul, so onward we went! Our next destination was The Libertine, a Steven Avenue pub, where we were greeted with cute little boxes of fried chicken poutine with pork belly and coleslaw. There was no shortage of pork among the various offerings, but this pork belly stood above and beyond them all – it was out of this world delicious! I appreciated the freshness that the coleslaw added, but I felt like the big piece of fried chicken was unnecessary and a bit out of place. It had gotten a bit soggy from sitting on top of the poutine and the two just didn’t seem to marry well together, in my mind. The pork belly more than made up for this, though, and I did enjoy the poutine as a whole.

Libertine poutine

At this point I was so full that I suggested that we walk the three blocks to downtownfood just so that we could get a bit of exercise and fresh air to counteract the heaviness of everything we had eaten. It wasn’t much of a jaunt, but it was still nice to get the blood flowing a little bit before round five. downtownfood was the 2013 Poutine Crawl winner, and they delivered again this time around. They started us off with an amazing lemon sorbetto that was meant to serve as a palate cleanser “to get rid of the taste of all of the gross poutines you’ve eaten” according to the chef. As weird as it is to say this after an event that was supposed to be all about the fries and gravy, this sorbetto may have been my favourite thing I ate all day. The flavour was perfectly tart, and the texture was silky smooth. downtownfood certainly scored some points with me for that extra little touch. It was soon time for the main event, though. The servers uncovered bowls of steaming hot fries right at our table, and we dug into housemade cheese curds, duck confit gravy, smoked mushrooms, and, of course, bacon. The gravy had amazing depth of flavour, my only complaint was that it was a little too thin, or perhaps there was a little too much of it, almost turning the dish into poutine soup. I quickly forgot about that tiny shortcoming, though, when they brought out macarons that were made to look like mini burgers. They were so adorable I could barely eat them, and they were delicious too!

dtf poutine

Finally it was time for our last stop, and a reprieve from my crying stomach. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every bite I took, but I was ready to lay off the potatoes for a while. We got off the bus at Kensington’s Oak Tree Tavern, a pub that always has a fun atmosphere and a great craft brew selection. We were greeted with a free beer courtesy of Wild Rose, a pretty good welcome, if you ask me. Oak Tree’s poutine was a vegetarian offering featuring a delectable sage gravy. I wasn’t too upset to have a break from bacon, but the cheese curds were a bit lacking – they were too small and missing their characteristic squeaky chew.

Oak Tree Tavern poutine

When all was said and done, downtownfood took the Calgary Poutine Crawl title as voted on by all of the participants. Anju was my pick, but dtf’s was my favourite of the more traditional poutines, so I certainly wasn’t upset about that choice (the lemon sorbetto didn’t hurt either). To be honest, there’s no way I could have been upset about the choice of winner after such a delicious day. Thanks to Karen Richards for organizing such a fun event! I’ll have my speedy mouse finger at the ready next year in hopes of getting a spot for a second time around.

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A family dinner

The spread

One of the things that brings me the most joy in life is sharing a meal with others. Food is one of my greatest passions, and, to me, there is nothing like sitting down at a table with family or some good friends and revelling in the shared glory of a delicious bite. I love going out and trying new restaurants and discovering hidden gems in the Calgary food scene and beyond, but I get the most satisfaction out of having people around our table in our little house and serving food that we have made. It’s a lot of work to make a meal for a big group, but the effort is worth it when it comes time to enjoy it.

Appies are always necessary

Appies are always necessary

This past Sunday we had my family over for an easter/passover/togetherness celebration. My sister has just arrived back in town for the summer after finishing her semester in Victoria and my brother is also back at home after having worked at Revelstoke for the summer. It was a lot of fun to have all five of us (plus Zevi) laughing and chatting and enjoying each other’s company. There was even a singalong to Tiny Dancer with me on piano thrown in there for good measure.

The fam jam

The fam jam

Back to the food. I feel very lucky to be married to someone who enjoys cooking and eating. I won’t say that he loves it as much as I do, because my love for food borders on obsession (most of my reading material consists of food blogs, cookbooks and Bon Appetit magazine), but it is a passion that we can share, and for that I am very grateful. We worked together to prepare the meal we served on Sunday, and being able to share the work with him not only lightens the load immeasurably, but it also strengthens our bond. I think we make a pretty darn good team!

We started the meal with a traditional matzo ball soup. This is something that I first had made for me by Zevi’s grandmother, so it was really special to make it ourselves for the first time. There was a lot of time spent waiting while the broth bubbled and simmered, but that patience was well worth it, as we were rewarded with a subtly flavoured soup that was so much better than anything you can find in a can or a carton. Our matzo balls were fluffy and tender, and I would call it a pretty great showing for rookie chicken soup makers. I think Baba would be proud.

The soup

The soup in process. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of the finished product.

The main course was brisket with crispy smashed potatoes and a simple salad. We made a home made bbq sauce for the brisket that really stole the show. If you haven’t made these smashed potatoes, I’m telling you, you need to drop everything and do it NOW! Crunchy on the outside and silky smooth on the inside, they’re everything you could ever want in a potato. I’ll be hard pressed to make them any other way now! Zevi made a spicy mayo with Franks hot sauce, chili powder, and garlic powder that was the perfect counterpoint to the salty starch nuggets.

Smashed potatoes ready for the oven

Smashed potatoes ready for the oven

Every time I have people over for a meal I am reminded of how rewarding it is to spend time preparing something for someone and then watching them enjoy the fruits of your labour (and enjoying it with them, of course). There are always lots groceries to buy and veggies to chop and dishes to do, but, in my mind, knowing that you did that work and seeing it all come to life makes it all the more worth it.

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Vancouver – What I Ate

Zevi and I are on a little road trip out to the coast in search of some rest, relaxation, and delicious food, of course! Vancouver was the first stop on our journey, and I thought I’d recap some of the places that wowed me in this great city.

Kadoya Sushi

Kadoya has long been a favorite of mine. I believe that Zevi and I went to this small sushi spot the very first time we road tripped out to the coast together only three weeks into our relationship (what??) and we’ve been going back as often as possible ever since. With creative rolls, super reasonable prices, and quality that is above and beyond anything that I’ve ever found in Calgary, I dream about this place on a regular basis and count down the days until I can make it back for another visit. My favorite roll is the Snow White – prawn tempura, ebi, tamago, and a delicious dusting of coconut on top. I think that a great measure of a place is if they can make something seemingly mundane into something memorable, and Kadoya does that with their Spicy Salmon roll, with the perfect amount of spice and the crunch from the tempura bits on the inside making this menu staple an irresistible treat.

Kadoya - spicy salmon roll

Kadoya - Zevi and sashimi

And then of course there is the sashimi – I am a sucker for atlantic salmon, and Kadoya serves huge pieces of fish that melt in your mouth like butter. I always know what to expect from this great little joint, and it hasn’t disappointed me yet!

Yolk’s Breakfast

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On the second morning of our visit we were headed to see a Vancouver Whitecaps and wanted to find somewhere to grab some brunch along the way. After a couple of failed attempts at nearby restaurants, we decided to give the Yolk’s breakfast cart a try. Conveniently parked right beside the Stadium-Chinatown Skytrain station only a couple of minutes from BC Place, we weren’t the only soccer game goers taking advantage of their breakfast offerings.

Their special sounded amazing, but unfortunately they had run out by the time we arrived, so I settled (not unhappily) for an egg sandwich on an english muffin with ham, dijon, spinach and hollandaise. Extreme messiness aside, the sandwich certainly did not disappoint, with the tang of the dijon acting as the perfect counterpoint to the rich yolk and hollandaise sauce. I also tried the truffled-lemon hash brown skewer, and was impressed by the perfectly soft potatoes with a crispy exterior and the flavour combination of the truffle oil and the lemon. Zevi ordered blackberry pancakes, and although they may have been slightly underdone, they had great flavour as well. Based on what we were able to sample I would certainly go back for more!

Tacofino Commissary

Tacofino - Albacore Tuna Tacos

We were very excited to eat at the recently-established Tacofino Commissary, having gone absolutely bananas over the original truck when we were in Tofino after our wedding last summer. Sometimes high expectations can lead to disappointment, but let me eliminate the suspense for you – pretty much everything we ate was incredible.

Tacofino is a self-described tapas type joint, where sharing is encouraged and plates come out as they are ready. As its name suggests, the menu consists mainly of tacos, with a few appetizers and desserts thrown in as well. The first dish I got was the Albacore Tuna Taco (pictured) – I had sampled this taco in Tofino and couldn’t resist going back for more. The amazing seared tuna, crunchy cabbage and salty seaweed salad made for a combination that was just as good as I remembered it. Other standouts were Zevi’s extremely flavourful skirt steak taco, his light and crunchy fish taco and the brussels sprouts appetizer that my sister and I shared. Unfortunately there was a ferry that needed to be caught so we didn’t have time for dessert, but when we come back (and there will be a next time, that’s for sure) I hope that the Banana Sriracha Ice Cream is still on the menu!

Fable Kitchen

Being a fan of Top Chef in all of its many incarnations, Fable, started by TC alum Trevor Bird, had been on my radar for a while, so when we were looking for a place to go for brunch with friends I jumped at the chance to try it. We managed to arrive just before the rush would have forced us to wait in line, and the hostess even agreed to break the rules a little bit and seat us before our friends arrived, so things were off to a great start. The rustic feel of the dining room really reflected their farm to table focus, and the open kitchen let us peek at what the chefs were up to as we walked in.

Unfortunately I was too busy stuffing my face with my blood sausage eggs benedict (the special of the day) to get any photos, but everyone at the table pretty much licked their plate clean, which gives you an idea of how good the food was. Though I usually love a savoury breakfast, Zevi’s french toast was a major standout. The bread had an almost cake-like texture and was moist and incredibly flavourful. I will most definitely be visiting again to try out their dinner menu!

Jun Sushi

Our final meal in Vancouver, other than the bagels we grabbed from the always-delicious Siegel’s on our way out of town, was at a small sushi spot recommended to us by a friend of Zevi’s. Since we’re usually pressed for time when we’re in the city we don’t usually stray away from what we know and love (read: Kadoya) when it comes to sushi, so I was glad to have someone steer us outside of our comfort zone.

Jun’s food far exceeded its unassuming decor. The sashimi was incredibly fresh, with the tuna being a standout for me (that’s a big deal considering we got salmon, my usual favorite, as well). The rolls were also delicious, with my favorite being the Vancouver roll – prawn and yam tempura with mango and masago and avocado on the outside. It’s hard not to be jealous of all of the amazing sushi places that charge next to nothing for something that can’t be matched in Calgary, but I guess it’s just a reason to keep visiting the coast!

I think it’s pretty evident that Vancouver is a great place to eat and of course there’s way more to offer than I had the chance to try. I can’t wait for our next visit!

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