February 20th, 2017

Food Notes for February 20, 2017

It sure was nice to have an extra day off from work this weekend – I hope you made the most of it too! On to this week’s food notes:

  • FEAST: Recipes & Stories from a Canadian Road Trip is a new book by Lindsay Anderson and Dana Vanveller that spawned from an epic five month journey across the country. The book features over 100 diverse Canadian recipes. The authors are launching their book at Audrey’s on February 27, 2017 from 6-8pm.
  • Chef Allan Suddaby (who is the Executive Chef of Elm Catering) will be teaching a series of classes at Metro Continuing Education from March to May 2017 on topics ranging from deep-frying without a deep-fryer, Irish food for St. Patrick’s Day, and the perfect burger. He’s a great instructor, so the sessions are worth considering if you’re wanting to learn a new kitchen skill!
  • Chef Travis Petersen (based in Vancouver) is hoping to host a dozen pop-ups across the country. He’ll be making a stop in Edmonton at Northern Chicken on March 8, 2017. Tickets for the local pop-up are $110.
  • Barrel Chicken Co. is hosting a pop-up at Solstice Seasonal Cuisine on March 12, 2017. Tickets are $50 for the 5-course meal.
  • Alta, one half of Chef Ben Staley’s duo of new restaurants (the other half being The Alder Room) will open on February 24, 2017. Alta is located at 10328 Jasper Avenue.
  • A new Thai restaurant, Songkran Thai, is now open in St. Albert at 20 St. Anne Street.
  • Takami Sushi opened recently at 10430 61 Avenue.
  • Amore Pasta, a pasta bar concept launched by the family behind Cafe Amore and Black Pearl, offers the same quality that we have come to expect at Cafe Amore, writes Jonny.
  • Cindy shares her favourite dishes and cocktails off the menu at Baijiu.
  • Twyla enjoyed her dinner of comfort food classics at Dogwood Cafe (located at the Victoria Golf Course).
  • Rebecca paid a visit to the expanded location of Calle Mexico on 107 Avenue.
  • Crystal checked out Old Strathcona’s NongBu.
  • Why have so many bakeries opened in Edmonton recently? Vue Weekly looks into the answer.
  • It’s always great to hear about the successes that may have started off small, such as Alberta-based food companies that have grown in size in our expanding agri-food industry.
  • There seem to be subscription services for all types of food, so I shouldn’t be surprised that a Fudge Club exists with Phil’s Fudge Factory – 3, 6, or 12 month subscriptions are available.
  • I was so sorry to read about the burglary that left Sambol Sri Lankan kitchen in shambles – I hope they’re able to re-open soon.
  • Wildcard applications for the Canadian Food Championships (held in Edmonton this year July 21-23, 2017) are now open.
  • Lillian tried ChocoVine (which blends wine with chocolate) in a recipe for pot de creme. She’s also giving away two bottles to one lucky reader.
  • Planet Organic released an ad today apologizing to their customers and promising to do better. It was probably meant to be amusing, but I just found the tone and production values slightly off.
  • The Winter Shake-Up Fest coincided with one of the warmest weekends this year, but we still enjoyed ourselves. Stilt-walking is harder than it looks, but it was fun to give it a go – thanks to Lincoln for the photo!

Winter Shake-Up Fest

Stilt-walking at the Winter Shake-Up Fest

  • Mack and I also wandered over to Hawrelak Park for the Silver Skate Festival. Rain boots were definitely more appropriate than snow boots, but people were making the most of it!

Silver Skate Festival

Bannock making at the Silver Skate Festival

  • The warm weather means street food may have another prolonged season (as was the case in 2016). It was definitely nice enough for a hot dog from Fat Franks on Saturday in Old Strathcona!

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Fat Franks

  • When Love Pizza announced their next feature would combine two of our favourite things: pizza and mac and cheese, we knew we had to try it. The mac & cheeza, topped with Irvings Farm Fresh bacon, was everything we hoped it would be.

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Mac & cheeza at Love Pizza

February 19th, 2017

Brunch with a View: Dogwood Cafe at Victoria Golf Course

We’ve been fortunate that the weather has been so cooperative that it seemed prudent to take advantage of it this long weekend. I’d been wanting to try Dogwood Cafe at the Victoria Golf Course for some time, so Mack and I headed down the valley on foot this morning to build up our appetite and revel in the current state of Edmonton’s winter.

This is the second year the Culina family of restaurants has operated Dogwood Cafe, serving brunch in the winter months out of the Victoria Golf Course. This year, Culina added a second brunch option at the Riverside Golf Course, in addition to dinner service at the Victoria location. It’s a great way to increase traffic to centrally-located city-owned facilities in the off-season, and because they’re situated adjacent to prime parkland, there’s the hope that diners might take the time to explore their surroundings before or after a meal (we walked over to Hawrelak Park after brunch for the Silver Skate Festival).

By the time we arrived at 12:30pm, most of the peak brunch traffic had dissipated. We were able to snag a window seat in the dining room, lit with abundant natural light. Located on the second floor of the clubhouse, Dogwood Cafe overlooks the snowy fields. The blonde wood furnishings are reminiscent of an outdated cafeteria, but small touches in the room – antique lamps, a rustic cabinet showcasing Jam Lady products – added some understated refinement.

Dogwood Cafe

Mack at Dogwood Cafe

The menu at the Victoria location, offered on weekends between 9am-3pm, is straightforward, with many brunch favourites to be found, including French toast, eggs benny, and a breakfast sandwich (there were a variety of tempting baked goods available as well). I was swayed by the mushroom-cheese omelette ($12), served with rye toast and tomatoes. Mack selected a dish that could have been served at the now-defunct Culina Highlands restaurant – fried eggs with Fuge Fine Meats kielbasa and potato-cheddar perogies ($15). We added a side of potato hash to share ($4).

We ordered at the counter, and waited less than ten minutes for our dishes to be served. My omelette, crowned with a creamy mushroom sauce, was comforting without being heavy. The tomatoes provided a pop of freshness (and colour) to the plate, and the crispy potatoes rounded out my meal nicely.

Dogwood Cafe

Mushroom-cheese omelette and side of potato hash

Mack was initially underwhelmed with the portion size, but commented after that because his dish was fairly rich, it ended up being the right amount of food. He found that the Fuge-made sausage had been cooked to snappy perfection, and really enjoyed the perogies (made at St. Basil’s Church) topped with sour cream and crispy bacon.

Dogwood Cafe

Eggs, kielbasa and perogies

While some tables were in and out of the restaurant, Mack and I chose to linger a little longer over our bottomless coffees. Staff didn’t mind at all; the relaxed atmosphere befit the natural setting just beyond the windows. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend brunch at Dogwood Cafe – the great food and efficient service is a welcome addition to Edmonton’s brunch scene.

Dogwood Cafe at Victoria Golf Course
12130 River Valley Road
Saturdays and Sundays, 9am-3pm

February 16th, 2017

Home Cooking Convenience: Chef’s Plate

For many years, consumers who wanted access to “home cooked” dishes but did not have the time to cook helped make meal assembly services like Simply Supper in Edmonton and Dinner Factory in St. Albert a success. But what about those looking to create dishes from scratch in their own kitchens, but without the time or will to grocery shop?

Meal preparation kits have grown in popularity in the States, eventually spreading to Eastern Canada, and in the last year or so, to Western Canada. The kits contain recipes and nearly all of the ingredients needed, pre-portioned, for meals that can typically be prepared in 15-30 minutes. In an age where we are increasingly time deprived and reliant on ordering goods online, grocery delivery with such pre-packaged convenience is a logical progression.

In Edmonton, services available include Chef’s Plate, Hello Fresh and Miss Fresh, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this list expands further this year. Our first meal kit experience was with Chef’s Plate – Mack’s brother Thom and Alicia are big proponents of Chef’s Plate, and gave us a gift certificate for Christmas.

I will admit that even before we placed an order, I was already biased against services like this – could the end justify the costs? Mack had to remind me that I am far from their target customer because I actually enjoy grocery shopping, prefer shopping local, and prioritize meal planning. Still, the gift certificate was an incentive to try it, so we took the plunge and selected two meals to start with in late January.

The full price of the order (not including $6 delivery fee) was $49.80, meaning each two-person serving rang up at $24.90. I happened upon an offer that reduced the charge by 50%, which made the two meals a much more palatable $24.90. Without the discount, it could escalate your food budget quickly.

Chef's Plate

Chef’s Plate delivery

The order was dispatched from their Vancouver-based centre on a Thursday, and arrived as expected on the following day. We received an insulated box with ice packs (not dissimilar from what we received from SPUD) that would have easily kept the contents cool for hours. Unlike SPUD, however, the boxes and ice packs aren’t re-used – there isn’t currently any mechanism in place for Chef’s Plate to pick up perfectly good packaging. Sure, they encourage recycling of the materials, but that doesn’t discount the energy used to unnecessarily break down and re-make packaging. Thom and Alicia’s boxes have doubled as cat havens, but given many delivery recipients are repeat customers, I hope Chef’s Plate looks into this.

Chef's Plate

Packaging

The produce and seasonings for each meal were grouped into brown bags, and the proteins were packed separately. Along with the food, we received full-colour recipe cards to accompany each meal. Each recipe contained enough detail so the meal could be replicated apart from Chef’s Plate (e.g., the seasoning packets were broken down into proportions and ingredients). The ingredients themselves were comparable in freshness to those picked up at a supermarket (I found it amusing that they felt the need to label the bag of tomatoes).

Chef's Plate

Ingredients for one 2-person meal

The Moroccan braised tilapia was a straightforward steamed fish meal, served with sweet potatoes, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and pepperoncini peppers. I did appreciate the seasoning; the flavours were something we hadn’t previously combined with fish. It was also my favourite type of dish for a weeknight: the one pot variety that made for an easy clean-up.

Chef's Plate

Moroccan braised tilapia (complete with an Instagrammable backdrop)

On the other hand, the second dish, a chicken with dijon gravy with thyme smashed potatoes and a baby kale salad, required a pot, pan, and a sheet tray. The final product was worth it, but the mess would have been better suited for the weekend.

Chef's Plate

Chicken with dijon gravy

Both dishes included fairly generous portions – one of my concerns had been whether or not we would need to supplement the meal with other ingredients. That said, my usual meal planning builds in our need for lunches, so unless we had ordered the more expensive family plan, Chef’s Plate still required us to rely on our other large-batch meals to generate leftovers.

On the plus side, Chef’s Plate forced us to try new recipes. We had been craving something different, so it was refreshing to have new recipes essentially chosen for us, including everything we needed for those dishes.

That said, convenience does come at a cost, so it’d be hard for us to justify ongoing orders, especially since we prefer to do the bulk of our shopping at farmers’ markets. We’re more likely to be occasional subscribers, when we’re looking for something to change up our routine.

February 13th, 2017

Food Notes for February 13, 2017

Bar Clementine

Bar Clementine

February 8th, 2017

Welcoming Vivo Ristorante to Downtown Edmonton

Ice District has not been kind to all businesses – the day that I attended a preview of a new restaurant in the neighbourhood was the same day that Transcend Coffee announced that they would be shuttering their Mercer Warehouse location. Still, optimism abounds in the area, with no less than new three restaurants now open, or poised to open, within two blocks of the arena this month. Baijiu and Bundok are the newest additions, soon to be joined by Vivo Ristorante’s Downtown outpost.

Located just west of Rogers Place, Vivo’s new two-story location will host three concepts under one roof. Two are new to the Vivo brand – Vivo Taverna will feature more casual small plates, while Vivo Pizzeria will offer sit-down and take-out pizza options. Upstairs, Vivo will be replicating the family-style Italian fine dining concept they’ve successfully operated on the city’s west end for more than five years.

Vivo

Vivo interior

Last week, Vivo still couldn’t confirm a firm opening date due to permitting challenges, but they hope to launch the second floor restaurant this month. The Taverna and Pizzeria will follow in the weeks to come.

I was a little embarrassed to admit that this was my first proper introduction to Vivo. I had seen the owners at the City Market picking up produce from a number of farmers on different occasions, so knew that they invested in our local food systems, and should have made an effort to support them in turn. Chef Michael Hassall highlighted many producers throughout the meal, including Pine Haven Farms, Doef’s Greenhouses, and Gull Valley Greenhouses.

We were fortunate to be able to sample many dishes from their menu, mirroring the family-style way diners are encouraged to embrace at Vivo. Most serving sizes were reduced to allow us to taste the breadth of the kitchen’s offerings.

No doubt my favourite dish of the evening was one of the simplest, but one that really let the ingredients shine. The caprese salad, a mix of Doef’s and Gull Valley tomatoes, sunflower seed-based pesto, and bufala mozzarella, was full of bright flavours and moves the idea of “seasonal vegetables” forward.

Vivo

Caprese salad

The Vivo signature pasta – a house-made fettuccine – was as rich and savoury as promised. Made up of a combination of four cheeses (bufala mozzarella, fior di latte, parmigiano reggiano, grana padano), butter and garlic, it was comforting and delicious.

Vivo

Fettuccine

The ricotta gnocchi was on the lighter side, pan-fried and served with walnut butter and sprinkled with pecorino, crispy sage and orange zest. The pillowy-soft gnocchi, paired with the orange, could have doubled as dessert for me.

Vivo

Gnocchi

The land, sea, and air platter was made for families who can’t decide between proteins, featuring chicken, beef tenderloin, and sea bass. Of the three, I enjoyed the sea bass, garnished with fennel, orange, and a fresh drizzle of grapefruit.

Vivo

Platter

Vivo will be a welcome addition to Edmonton’s Downtown – not only are they adding several new dining options to the neighbourhood, but they’re choosing to highlight local producers in the process. Thanks again to the staff for hosting a wonderful evening!

Vivo
10505 106 Street
(587) 525-7500

February 6th, 2017

Food Notes for February 6, 2017

  • Custom treats by Donut Pals will be available at Malt and Mortar from 10am-4pm for your sweetheart on February 14, 2017.
  • Missed the Honest Dumplings and Prairie Pigeon pop-up at The Chvrch of John last week? Well you’re in luck – the pair are joining forces again for Valentine’s Day! 2 seatings of dumplings and desserts for your valentine on February 14, 2017.
  • The next Second Line pop-up is taking place on February 28, 2017 at The Lingnan. Tickets for the seafood boil are $60.
  • Congratulations to Darren and Maria of Zwick’s Pretzels, who are finally satisfying the city’s craving for fresh pretzels. They just launched the storefront last week at 12415 107 Avenue.
  • Doughnut Party (from the folks behind Moonshine Doughnuts) also had their soft opening last week, and sold out several times over. They’ll be re-opening again on February 9, 2017 at 10938 119 Street.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if the students at the U of A are jealous of their peers at MacEwan – with the addition of Prairie Noodle’s udon-serving Prairie Outpost that opened today, their food options just keep getting better and better.
  • Speaking of Prairie Noodle, congratulations to Chef Eric Hanson on capturing bronze in the 2017 Gold Medal Plates competition!
  • Baijiu is now openTwyla previews what you can expect.
  • Cindy has one of the first reviews of the restaurant inside the Crash Hotel (formerly the Grand Hotel).
  • Jonny visited a new-ish Korean restaurant called Miga on the south side.
  • Vue Weekly checked out Wheat Garden Noodle & Dumpling Bazaar.
  • Twyla enjoyed her ramen experience at Nudoru.
  • Don’t click this if you’re hungry – Cindy presents Cafe Linnea’s new winter menu in pictures.
  • It’s so great to hear that the Italian Bakery will not only be fully up and running (after the fire in 2016 that destroyed their bakery), but they’ll still be adding a St. Albert location to their family in July.
  • I’m sorry to hear Transcend Coffee wasn’t able to make it work at the Mercer Warehouse – the downtown location will close February 26, 2017.
  • The food section in the Edmonton Journal has been whittled down over the past year to a random collection of articles on Wednesdays and small local pieces on Saturdays, so it’s no real surprise that Gastropost is also being eliminated. After 167 missions, this week’s mission will be the last.
  • Should you take a chance on higher-end take-out? Avenue explores this question.
  • The Toronto Star wrote a nice piece about some of our great local restaurants.
  • The latest local business to turn to crowdfunding is Cafe Bel-Air, which is hoping to raise $8,000 towards finishing their popsicle truck in time for summer.
  • I missed linking to this last week – congratulations to Fuge Fine Meat, who exceeded their Alberta BoostR campaign goal of $20,000.
  • Three Edmontonians are vying to make the Masterchef Canada cut beginning March 2, 2017.
  • Will our food one day be prepared by robot chefs?
  • I’ve been meaning to visit Macarons and Goodies on my way home, and finally made the time to do so last week. It’s a charming little shop, with a good selection of cakes and pastries, and a very friendly owner.

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Macarons and Goodies

  • I love seeing local product integrated with other similar products (as opposed to being segregated into a separate “homegrown” section), so it was nice to see a product from Strathcona Spirits Distillery on the shelves (and Eau Claire, too).

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At Chateau Louis Liquor Store

  • Soup is always my meal of choice, both at home or out and about – so Mack and I stopped at Pho Hoan Pasteur while we were nearby running errands this weekend.

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Pho for two

January 30th, 2017

Food Notes for January 30, 2017

Happy Lunar New Year to those of you who celebrate! I had a lovely weekend full of family festivities – though it’s hard to believe the first month of the year has already passed us by. On to this week’s food notes:

  • La Mision is back with its first pop-up of 2017 at The Chvrch of John on January 31, 2017 from 5-7pm.
  • The next event in the Dining with Friends series will be a Buddhist feast hosted at Padmanadi on February 9, 2017. The family-style meal will include nine dishes for $43 per ticket.
  • Mark your calendars: the 14th annual Downtown Dining Week will take place March 10-19, 2017. Menus will be up by February 15, 2017.
  • Avenue Edmonton is getting ready to celebrate their annual “best restaurants” issue – tickets for the launch on March 13, 2017 are now on sale for $44 each.
  • Thanks to Jenn for the heads up – Tokiwa Ramen is coming to the Brewery District this spring at 11978 104 Avenue.
  • Avila Arepa, an “urban Venezuelan kitchen,” is also forthcoming in Old Strathcona – 10760 82 Avenue.
  • Blink and you’d walk right by it – Bundok in Fox One is now open at 10218 104 Street.
  • Just down the street – Baijiu, the new Asian-inspired cocktail bar (and sister restaurant to North 53) opens on February 1, 2017.
  • The folks behind El Cortez are expanding their Old Strathcona empire to include a third restaurant inside the same historic building this summer.
  • Chef Nathin Bye has put his stamp on the menu at the restaurant inside Crash Hotel (the former Grand Hotel).
  • Cindy is among the first to review new Old Strathcona restaurant Pho Boy, and its somewhat modern take on Vietnamese cuisine.
  • The Journal enjoyed brunch at the Riverside Golf Course, as prepared by Dogwood Cafe (who also runs the brunch program at the Victoria Golf Course).
  • Twyla shares her experience at a recent Scandanavian-inspired pop-up at Clementine, called Kos.
  • Congratulations to Chef Levi Biddlecombe, who will be at the helm of Packrat Louie.
  • Why did Chef Andrew Cowan of Northern Chicken gravitate towards fried chicken? It’s all about family.
  • Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Jacek’s spring collection (romantically named the Galaxy Collection) is now available.
  • It’s never too early to start thinking about the summer – shares of Riverbend Garden’s community supported agriculture are now on sale!
  • Ian from Winding Road Cheese reflects on his first year in business.
  • Megan checked out the “Meet Your Farmers” event hosted by SPUD Edmonton over the weekend.
  • Sleep in all you want: all-day breakfast at McDonald’s rolls out in Canada on February 21, 2017, followed quickly by A & W on February 27.
  • We’ve been hankering for brunch at Meat for weeks, so we were happy to finally indulge over the weekend.

Meat

Breakfast sandwich and beef brisket benny from Meat

January 23rd, 2017

Food Notes for January 23, 2017

  • Food4Good is hosting two events this week: an affordable Fruit & Veggie Market on January 24, 2017 from 11am-4pm (where nothing is priced over $3), and a collective kitchen on January 27, 2017. Both events take place at the Britannia Youngstown Community League.
  • Vegan food truck Sailin’ On is popping up at Earth’s General Store downtown for lunch on January 27, 2017 from 11am-2:30pm.
  • You can get your Prairie Pigeon fix at downtown’s Evoolution on January 28, 2017 from 11am-2pm and at a pop-up at the Chvrch of John alongside Honest Dumplings on February 2, 2017 at 5pm.
  • MacEwan’s Global Awareness Week features a screening of More than Honey, a documentary about bees and beekeepers. The free event takes place on January 30, 2017 from 4-6pm – RSVP here.
  • A free event kicks off the Cultivating Connections food conference on February 3, 2017: a moderated panel including Mayors Don Iveson, Lisa Holmes (Morinville) and Tom Flynn (Sturgeon County) will discuss agricultural land preservation, food innovation, and local food production. The reception will feature Alberta ingredients prepared by five local chefs. RSVP here.
  • Northern Chicken is partnering with Effing Seafoods on the first Tuesday of every month, starting on February 7pm. On this first occasion you can expect oyster po’ boys and cod and chips.
  • The next Swine and Dine dinner takes place at Dogwood Cafe (located at the Victoria Golf Course) on February 8, 2017. The four-course meal is on for $59 per person.
  • Celebrate Valentine’s Day with the Wild Heart Brunch Club on February 11, 2017, with sides of burlesque and jazz to accompany a 3-course meal prepared by Sailin’ On. Tickets are $30.
  • Learn more about Edmonton’s subscription-based Secret Meat Club from their segment on Global, though it appears all of their subscriptions are currently sold out.
  • The South Edmonton Common location of Burger’s Priest opened over the weekend at 2125 98 Street.
  • Where Edmonton shared that Oil & Vinegar, located in Commerce Place, is closing at the end of February.
  • Cindy is one of the first to review XO Bistro Bar, a modern Vietnamese restaurant located in the Ultima Tower downtown.
  • Twyla shared her love for Northern Chicken on CBC last week.
  • I wish Cindy luck as she aims to cook her way through Edmonton Cooks!
  • If you’re too busy to cook, but want to eat healthy, Careit Urban Deli now offers meal plans that can help you meet those goals.
  • Liane sheds some light on the mental health challenges that some in the hospitality industry may face due to working conditions and industry pressures.
  • Not your grandmother’s apples: an Okanagan orchard has bred the Arctic apple, a GMO variety that does not brown. While it isn’t yet available in Canada, it will be on store shelves in the US next month.
  • I haven’t been to Bonjour Bakery since their renovations last summer – though it’s probably a good thing given I always walk away with too many goodies. The expanded bakery and cheese cases looked great!

Bonjour Bakery

Bonjour Bakery

  • We checked out the new downtown Local Public Eatery (11228 Jasper Avenue) on Friday, urged on somewhat by a gift card Mack had been provided by the restaurant. With the Oilers game on, the atmosphere was quite lively, but the broadcast volume was on the loud side for us. Food-wise, we most enjoyed the nachos, which, unlike other similar dishes we’ve encountered, seemed to have been layered with care, with the chips actually remaining crispy for the most part.

Local Public Eatery

Nachos from Local Public Eatery

January 16th, 2017

Food Notes for January 16, 2017

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Poutine!

  • On our walk home from Deep Freeze, we stopped by Hyatt Place. The restaurant/lounge was a lovely open space, but it was unfortunately dead quiet. It was nice to see a couple of local products on the shelves though – Caramia Caramels and Fudgalicious.

Hyatt Place Edmonton

Second floor lounge at Hyatt Place

  • Mack and I have been meaning to revisit Three Boars for some time – the weather finally cleared up enough so we could walk over to the restaurant this weekend. Mushrooms and toast was as tasty as I remembered, and though I don’t regret the first few bites of dessert, it was definitely meant to be shared by a party larger than two!

Three Boars Eatery

Mushrooms and toast

Three Boars Eatery

Dark chocolate brownie, fernet ice cream, house-made marshmallow, salted caramel

January 12th, 2017

Culinary Highlights: 2016 Edition

I looked back on my year of blogging only to remember how an unexpected project at work derailed the first four months of 2016, severely limiting my free time to write. Although things calmed down in the spring, I’m not sure my work/life balance ever fully recovered.

At any rate – I never managed to put together a 2015 edition of my culinary highlights, so it’s a small victory that I am returning to some old habits.

Here are some of my favourite food-related memories from the past year:

Did someone say pizza? Love Pizza ended up being our go-to downtown addition this year. Great product, and a restaurant we can walk to!

I can’t say no to the Meatatarian

A Streetcar Named Dessert was a unique experience that married Sugared and Spiced cakes with an amazing musician in an unforgettable venue.

How do you choose?

This year’s Grand Taste Tour took us to Tangle Ridge Ranch where we enjoyed one of the best dishes I had all year.

Gnocchi with peas and pecorino

I attended my first Gold Medal Plates in 2016, and appreciated firsthand the skills and talent of all competing chefs. But I would be kidding if I didn’t say that the highlight of the event was a selfie with the gracious Olympic gold medalist Erica Wiebe.

#graniestphotoever

It was also the first year that I attended What the Truck?! as a “layperson”. The festival is a lot of work to produce, so I am grateful to the team for carrying the torch forward!

What the Truck?! at Northlands

A brief stop in Niagara this spring resulted in some wine education for both Mack and myself.

Green Lane Winery

We continued that education in the Okanagan that fall, and at Covert Organics, met a special strawberry patch.

Ain’t nothing like a fresh strawberry

In Chicago, I finally got to taste some of Rick Bayless’s food, and it lived up to my expectations.

Frontera Grill

Smoked pork queso fundido from Frontera Grill

Closer to home, we enjoyed some food with a view in Rocky Mountain House.

Prairie Creek Inn

I also found my new favourite restaurant in Calgary: Ten Foot Henry.

Salt roasted potatoes

In most cases, it’s not what we eat that we remember, but who was around us at the time to make it special. For example, while there were things I would have changed about the Culinaire Treasure Hunt, Mack and I had an absolute blast with our teammates Su and Allison.

Team High Viz!

In that same vein, one of the reasons I’ve grown to love Toronto as much as I have is because of my sister.

Toronto 2016

Cheering on the Raps at Jurassic Park

Thanks for joining me on another year of adventures. Here’s to 2017!