Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Pho Files: Beef Stew at Pho Delight

Beef stew done Vietnamese style is one of my favourite colder weather comfort foods. After a couple of hours outside while I was covering two protests, I took a walk over to Pho Delight where I indulged in a bowl. Plentiful beef and carrots abounded (usually I find the carrot portion skimpy), and the carrots were cooked until they were soft. Some of the fat could have been trimmed off the beef - it was the chewy variety - but otherwise this was an excellent bowl of comfort food.

Dessert at Block 1912

Black Forest is my favourite kind of cake. Most bakeries I have encountered do not make it properly. They make a plain, dry chocolate layer cake with whipped cream and a cherry on top. That is not Black Forest - that is a chocolate layer cake. Black Forest has cherries and cherry liquor or syrup incorporated in the cake itself, as well as the middle layer of cream. Thank you, Block 1912, for knowing how to make a Black Forest cake properly and for giving me such pleasure with your moist, dreamy layers, rich whipped cream, and decadent chocolate shavings.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Winging It at Wild Wing

I was in Sherwood Park last weekend and after I finished at the event I was at, I needed a snack. I noticed the Wild Wing, and remembered how much I enjoy the little morsels.

Opting for a plate of boneless wings, and one of the 100 or so flavours (a mixture of honey-garlic and maple), "little morsels" is an understatement. These were huge, crispy nuggets. I was happily full when done and looking forward to trying the Edmonton location.

Breakfast for Lunch: Omelette at Three Bananas

I have often had coffee or a snack at Three Bananas, but never breakfast. This changed last Saturday when I was in the Churchill Square area for an event, and decided to seek nourishment first.

My Greek omelette was modified without feta. The combination of avocado, red onions, and tomatoes worked well. The onions were sweet and the tomatoes added moisture and were very fresh. The avocado was a little over-rip, unfortunately. The thick slices of toast made me not miss any potato component of the meal.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Breakfast For Lunch: Tutti Frutti

Fruit cocktail at Tutti Frutti Breakfast and Lunch #yegfood

Although the name could be confused with the frozen yogurt chain, Tutti Frutti Breakfast and Lunch (169 Street & 107 Avenue) is also a chain. Like Cora's, it originates in Quebec and the menu is very similar in many respects. There is a huge variety of French toast, crepes, egg dishes (which can be served with anything from wieners to fried bologna to baked beans to ham and bacon), and lunch specials, including a basic hamburger. The atmosphere of the restaurant is a lot more mature than Cora's, which is something I appreciated. I went for the VIP Breakfast, which includes a crepe, two pieces of French toast, and a mountain of fresh fruit on top. On the side I ordered the home fries, because they looked so wonderful in the menu pictures, and a fruit cocktail as my drink.

VIP breakfast at Tutti Frutti Breakfast and Lunch #yegfood

The fruit cocktail was like a smoothie without the dairy. I could just feel the freshness of the fruit, with a texture that was not too thick. Very refreshing. My breakfast plate was huge. The French toast was sweet with just a hint of cardamom or all spice or something to give it a slight kick, in a pastry sort of way. The crepe was thin, plain, and benefited from the syrup on the table. The fruit went perfectly with everything, and I loved how seasonal fruit like plums and nectarines were included, not just grapes and melon.

Home fries at Tutti Frutti Breakfast and Lunch #yegfood

As for the potatoes: for less than $3 we got a rather substantial plate of pan-fried, seasoned, sliced home fries. Because they were pan fried instead of deep fried, the texture ranged from soft to crunchy, which I quite like. I look forward to having these with an omelette or burger on my next visit.

Grilled Turkey Sandwich and Iced Coffee at Gracious Goods.

I had to finish reading a book in preparation for a talk I am giving. Problem is, it seems like no matter which cafe I pick, someone knows me and strikes up a conversation, thus causing me to set aside the purpose for which I am there. So, I headed to Belgravia yesterday to Gracious Goods Cafe where I could read in peace.

Thing is, I was also hungry and thirsty from the bike ride there. I had a grilled turkey sandwich in flatbread (other choices were as a wrap or on focaccia), replacing the provolone cheese with avocado (which normally costs 50 cents extra to add). The flatbread was grainy, with a hint of sweetness, and served almost like a wrap.

The combination of the spinach, cranberry sauce, and turkey made the sandwich almost taste like Thanksgiving dinner, while the avocado added an earthiness. The way the sandwich was heated caused all of the ingredients to be hot, including the avocado, which was a bit strange. However, the most remarkable think about the sandwich was the fact they use actual, pulled roast turkey - not turkey deli. It was also a bit on the small side.

To drink I had an iced coffee. Freshly brewed, it was deep and fantastic.

I really like the location and atmosphere of Gracious Goods and will be back, hopefully on a regular basis.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Veggie Burger at Blue Plate Diner

A quick lunch was in order on the way to an event on Sunday, so Blue Plate Diner it was. I had a veggie burger with fries - I usually love house made veggie burgers, which differ greatly from the commercially available ones.

The fresh, crunch grain bun was a delight. The condiments and veggies were ice cold, which affected the temperature of the burger. I could also have stood to be cooked longer - it was quite soft and the outside should have been crispier. Flavour wise, the dijon mustard dominated, although I could sense a lot of seasonings going on within the burger too.

The house made fries were wonderful - hot, fresh, and plentiful.

I think with some tweaking and better preparation, Blue Plate's veggie burger could be a lot better than it is, or at least it was when I had it.

Dinner at Murrieta's

Quinoa saute at Murrieta's #yegfood

I was excited to have supper on the weekend at Murrieta's. I was in a vegan state of mind, so opted for the quinoa saute, which was a deep dish of the delectable grain with roasted vegetables, lentils, and chickpeas, finished with olive oil and herbs. The flavours blended very well and all of the protein in the chickpeas and lentils really filled me up. I especially liked how the tomatoes added moisture to the dish.

Flour less brownie #yegfood

A healthy main course made me feel less guilty about having dessert. The flourless brownie was so rich, it was almost like eating a chocolate bar, except gooier. The ice cream added moisture and the berry compote was a little too sweet - it was already a sweet dish.

Brunch at Next Act

On Saturday, I was craving breakfast food while on Whyte Avenue. As the rain started falling, I remembered that The Next Act serves brunch on weekends.

I had an eggs Benedict with tomato, avocado, and sauteed mushrooms. The flavours went well together, although the tomato made it hard to cut.

I love hash browns, and the accompanying ones were house made, but were a little too heavily coated in seasonings. It was almost like a crust.

My mimosa was refreshing, but a little bitter - I was not sure if it was the juice or the choice of champagne. Overall though, the value and service was good, and Next Act should not be overlooked for weekend brunch - although I think next time I'll have a beer with it.

Bar Snacks at Brewsters

After a performance over the weekend, I needed some beer and food, but was not in the mood for a full meal. At Brewsters, I had a pint of craft beer with a Bavarian pretzel and gyoza - Japanese dumplings filled with chicken and vegetables. I am glad the Bavarian pretzel was brushed with herbs and served with beer mustard for dipping, because the pretzel itself would not have had much flavour otherwise. The Gyoza was similarly bland - the sweet chilli sauce helped. I think next time I will go for chicken wings.

Snacking at Mercer Tavern

I really like the atmosphere of Mercer Tavern. I was here for lunch this week, but I just wanted a snack, so went for the fritters - they were delicious, like little savoury doughnuts with corn in them, served with jam. All they needed was some confectioner's sugar! Hot, crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside - and they went great with my beer.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Plow and Harvest

As a lover of home cooked, home style meals, I was eager to try the new Plow and Harvest which opened up on 170 street and 100 Avenue, in a large space formerly occupied by a number of restaurants.

I love the decor - the country theme is perhaps played up to the point of kitsch, but that is sort of the place's charm. Our greeter was very friendly and explained how to order. Of course, by the time we sat down, we had completely forgotten. Fortunately, there are staff wandering around, and one of them picked up on our confusion and helped us out.

The line between restaurant and cafeteria is blurred when it comes to payment. I don't mind paying for my food first. The main advantage for me is not having to wait for the bill after (my least favourite part of dining out). Tipping is another matter. Perhaps there is some way to tip afterwards that the management can incorporate.

I ordered a turkey entree and my friend had the "not so sloppy" Joe. Sandwiches come with fries, which cannot be substituted for another side (although sides can be ordered for an addition $4 each). Entrees come with a side, and you can pick one additional one, so I went for fries. I found them crispy and seasoned. My stuffing was one of the best I ever had. I loved the gravy, which was not overpowering and went especially well with the stuffing, and the turkey - five or six thick slices of white breast meat. The accompanying artisan bread (a pumpernickel bun) was also great - and I don't even like pumpernickel!

I did not taste the sloppy Joe but my friend was satisfied with it and said he would order it again. He also had a side of stuffing in addition to his fries and shared my enthusiasm for it. We loved the presentation - sides are in these mini cast iron skillets and condiments are in tiny silver buckets.

My main disappointment was our beverages. I was initially excited about Boylan's pop being on tap. The problem was that it tasted very watered down. Also, the chairs are not comfortable - my lower back felt sort of caged in. The restaurant is definitely not perfect, but I the food and service were good. I am hoping the standard will be maintained on future visits.