Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Taste of Edmonton 2014

Kung Pow Chicken

Taste of Edmonton is a local food lover's paradise. There are a number of new restaurants and dishes in the festival this year. One of the tried and true is the Beijing Style Kung Pow Chicken from The Lingnan. I only had a spoonful of this as it was for someone else, but it was full of spicy flavour and chicken, on top of a bed of rice. Really intense.

Dry Spicy Chicken

For me, the only menu item I chose to get again from previous years was the dry spicy chicken from The Lingnan. I can only eat a few pieces but it is worth the lingering burning on my lips.

Fried Green Tomatoes

The Fried Green Tomatoes from Creole Envie was my absolute must-try for this year, probably for the same reason as many others: the movie of the same name. That being said, for only two tickets I got at least six slices of lightly breaded and fried green tomatoes, which tasted slightly acidic with a nice crunch, accented by the creole aioli.


I was really happy to see Aboriginal food being represented this year by the inclusion of Native Delights. The bannock fry bread, made with non-GMO ingredients, was absolutely delightful: not greasy but crispy on the outside, with a chewy inside and slight sweetness.

Beef Garlic Rump Steak

I have not had the courage to visit Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse as I do not think I have the fortitude to withstand such a meat overload, but the Beef Garlic Rump Steak satisfied my curiosity. Rump can be a very tough cut, but this was marinated to perfection and the garlic was not overpowering. Although I had one bite that was practically all fat, overall I enjoyed the skewer.

Ater Kik Alecha Wok

I love lentils so was overjoyed to discover the yellow lentil dish Ater Kik Alecha Wok from Langano Skies, another restaurant that I have heard many good things about but have never ventured within. Served with a small piece of sour injera bread, this was a great dish for vegetarians and a gentle introduction to Ethiopian food.

Beef Short Rib and Mash

The Beef Short Rib and Mash from Normand's Bistro was one of my favourite dishes of the afternoon. The meat was practically melting in my mouth, the mashed potatoes were creamy, and the sauce was at once sweet and savoury.

Jamaican Beef Patty

I had to wait a while to get a Jamaican Beef Patty from Irie Foods (2807 Millwoods Road), because they were sold out. Once I finally got my hands on one, I could see why. The size is fairly substantial, with a light, flaky pastry filled with spicy beef. Served in a paper bag, it was slightly awkward to eat, but really good value and ideal for people who like it hot.

Pineapple Chicken

The Pineapple Chicken from Blue Willow was for someone else, but I managed to sneak a bite of the lightly breaded chicken in a sweet pineapple sauce.

Black Forest Whoopie Pie

By this point I was winding down and desiring dessert. The Black Forest Whoopie Pie from the Edmonton Petroleum Club was my choice. The whipped cream and cherry filling between two chocolate cake wafers was certainly good satisfaction for my sweet tooth, although I would have enjoyed more of the cherry.

Jack Daniels Apple Crumble

I was out of tickets by now but retrieved dessert for someone else, and how I wish this Jack Daniels Apple Crumble with Ice Cream from On The Rocks was mine!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Vegging Out: Ginger Beef at Padmanadi

Ginger Beef

I had lunch today with a co-worker at Padmanadi. There is an extensive lunch menu featuring perfectly proportioned meals of protein, rice, and vegetables, along with two spring rolls. I opted for the ginger beef, which was strips of soy beef in a tangy ginger sauce. There was a good amount of rice, some broccoli to give the dish colour, and the spring rolls were crispy and excellent. We also shared some corn cakes (sweet, crispy, and gluten free) as an appetizer, two of which you can see in the photo.

Vegging Out: Vegan Bowl at Pho Delight

Vegan Bowl

I went to Pho Delight on Whyte Avenue for lunch yesterday and because it was too hot for soup, had the vegan bowl. This is one of the house specials not on the printed menu. It is a huge bowl of vermicelli noodled topped with picked carrots, cucumber, lettuce, lots of lemongrass tofu, onions, and mushrooms. This is probably the first time I have ever experienced mushrooms in a vermicelli bowl. The flavour of lemongrass permeated the tofu and the onions, which were sweet and delicious. There was a slight spicy kick, but not overpowering. Filling and really excellent. As a note, the bowl does not come with onion cakes or salad rolls - what you see in the picture is my share of some other goodies on the table.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Pub Grub: Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

I had supper at Sherlock's on campus last night following the World Cup final, and ordered a chicken pot pie to help me drown my sorrow after Argentina lost to Germany. Served in a deep bowl, it had a lot of potato and chicken chunks with peas in a creamy sauce - definitely comfort food. The crispy, flaky top crust was perhaps the best part. My friend kept digging his fork in to share the goodness.

All Happy

Garlic Fried Rice

One of the few restaurants in the Chinatown area I had not yet tried was All Happy. I had supper there with a co-worker a few weeks ago. My friend ordered the garlic fried rice. I tried a little and it lived up to its name. Tiny bits of fried garlic were in every bite. It was too much for me, but she really liked it.

Hong King Iced Tea

I definitely needed something to drink at this point, so I had the Hong Kong iced tea. It was strong and milky, just as it should have been.

Onion Cake

I had to try the green onion cake, and was not disappointed. It was crunchy and satisfying.

Beef Chow Fun

My main course was the beef chow fun. This is a beef stir fry with thick rice noodles and bean sprouts. It had a very deep, meaty flavour although the beef was not of the greatest quality. The portion size was very large and I was quite full after. However, a short while later, despite the name of the restaurant, I wasn't very happy. My unhappiness lingered into the next day. If I do visit again, I think I would make a different menu choice and eat less.

Pub Grub: Chicken Fingers and Veggie Plate

Chicken Fingers

I enjoyed one of the World Cup matches at the University location of Sherlock Holmes with friends last week, and needed some food to go with my libations. I had the chicken fingers, which was listed under Appetizers but was huge enough for a meal. Five plump fingers with a mountain of fries. I could not finish - a rare happening indeed.

Veggie Plate

Later on I did find some room to share a veggie plate, with lots of fresh carrots, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, and other veggies, along with pita bread, hummus, and tzatziki. The tzatziki had a lot of garlic, and the hummus was very dense - a little of each went a long way. This is a slightly healthier idea for sharing than my first choice!

Just Desserts: Fudge Truffle

Fudge Truffle

During a meeting last week at Zocalo, I wanted something sweet to go with my coffee. I tried one of the truffles that look so beautiful in the display case. I chose the basic fudge truffle, with a thick milk chocolate coating and a gooey centre that tasted of chocolate and caramel. At almost $4 for one it is a little pricey, but a decadent occasional treat.

Beef Donair

Beef Donair

I visited the new Whyte Avenue location of Kabsa (10332 82 Avenue)a few weeks ago for supper with a friend who sings the praises of the donair. Kabsa refers to rice dishes from Afghanistan, and there are certainly plenty of them on the menu, as well as wraps like the donair. It was packed full of beef, which was nicely seasoned, as well as sweet sauce and vegetables. It wasn't overly messy to eat, and tasted quite different than other donairs I have had. Inexpensive, reasonably quick, and conveniently located.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Just Desserts: Two Treats at Block 1912

Peach Nectarine Cobbler

Block 1912 is one of my favourite coffee shops, not just because the coffee is excellent, but because of the incredible, original desserts. When I wanted a treat, but something lighter, I tried the peach and nectarine cobbler. I loved the gluten free top crust, but found there was not a lot of fruit underneath. I also should have opted to have the dessert cold instead of heated up - I think some of the moisture might have gotten lost in the process.

Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake

On another visit, I had the chocolate cheesecake brownie. Wow. This was a mouthful. A rich chocolate brownie was topped with cheesecake, and baked with actual chunks of chocolate. It tasted exactly like it sounds! Oh, and if that wasn't enough, it was topped with whipped cream and chocolate crisps. I could not finish. Two people could easily share this.

Vegging Out: Lemon Shrimp and Stuffed Tofu at Padmanadi

Lemon Shrimp

Padmanadi is one of those restaurants I love but don't get to as often as I would like. When I had supper there a few weeks ago I tried a new item, the lemon shrimp. The "shrimp" is the same as in the sweet and sour entree, which is one of my favourites. The panko crust and lemon drizzle is very flavourful and made for an enjoyable appetizer.

Stuffed Tofu

The stuffed tofu is something I have had here before, and likely won't order again. The tofu was perfectly cooked with a light coating, and stuffed with minced "ham." I found the ham part to be a bit too baby food-like in consistency, and would usually just fall out of the tofu when I was cutting it. The flavours worked really well though, where the texture didn't.

Vegging Out: Vegan Tofu Seafood Pho

Tofu and Seafood Pho

I had been craving lunch at Veggie Garden (10582 100 Street) for a while, and finally made it there last week. I had a bowl of pho with tofu and "seafood." The seafood was fake shrimp - I was expecting more of a variety (I have had "fish balls" and other imitation bottom dwellers in other places) but at least there was a lot of it. There was also a good portion of tofu and vegetables, and the broth was flavourful for a vegetable-based one. Prices here have gone up - what were once six or seven dollars are not eight, nine, and ten, but the value is still good.

Paneer Kebabs

Paneer Kebabs

Another Saturday at Blues On Whyte can mean another supper next door at Naanolicious. I went for the paneer version of their signature sizzling kebabs. My plate was filled with large cunks of the pressed cheese, cooked perfectly to my taste (I like it mild). The paneer is not as absorbent of the flavours as its meat equivalents, but it was still an excellent alternative when desiring a lighter meal. The accompanying saffron rice was perfect.

Cream of Potato Leek Soup

Cream of Potato Leek Soup

A light supper at Jeffrey's Cafe a few days ago included a bowl of cream of potato and leek soup. It was indeed hot and creamy, with the flavour of potato dominating over the leek. In fact, I am not sure I would have known there was leek in it if it was not in the name.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Just Desserts: Chocolate Brownie Mousse Cake

Chocolate Brownie Mousse Cake

There are times when you need chocolate. Then, there are times when you really need chocolate. If you ever find yourself feeling like the latter, head to Block 1912 and order a piece of chocolate brownie mousse cake. It features a thick layer of rich mousse atop a base of brownie. It is one of the riches pieces of cake I ever have eaten. It is actually more of a confection than a cake. Goes very well with coffee.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Vegging Out: Vegan Lemongrass Tofu Quinoa Bowl

Vegan Tofu Lemongrass Bowl

Supper on a patio in the summer can be really delightful, especially when sharing the experience with a friend. Such was the case a couple of weeks ago when I ended up at the campus location of Earl's. I ordered a vegan bowl with tofu and a variety of vegetables atop a bed of quinoa, served with a lemongrass sauce. Although the portion seemed skimpy at first, there was more than met the eye. The vegetables were cooked perfectly, although the onions, stated on the menu as "crunchy," were actually caramelized, not fried. The sauce really completed the dish, and I loved how it was served to the side so the customer could control the amount (I can imagine it being overpowering for some, but I ended up using all of it). A perfect summer dish!

Smoked Salmon and Avocado Salad Rolls

Smoked Salmon Avocado Salad Rolls

I popped into Pho Delight for a quick supper alone a couple of Saturday evenings ago and in addition to the soup I ordered (medium steak, of course), I was intrigued by the smoked salmon and avocado salad rolls advertised as a special. Very refreshing and delicious, each of the four rolls featured a generous amount of avocado and smoked salmon, along with noodles, basil, and other vegetables typically found in a salad roll. It was indeed a unique combination. I found that the peanut sauce, the same which accompanies other kinds of salad rolls, did not really go well with the flavour combination. Hoisin or plain soy sauce would have been a better choice. However, I was impressed that the avocado was of perfect ripeness (over-ripe avocado makes me gag).

Palak Paneer at Naanolicious

Palak Paneer

I had lunch at Naanolicious with a co-worker last week, and was thrilled to discover Palak Paneer on the menu of specials. The spinach curry with pressed cheese is one of my favourite East Indian dishes, and I had yet to find it on their menu. The curry was creamy, smooth, and not overpowering, while the cheese was delicate in flavour and had a good, firm texture. One of the best I have had in a long time.