Category: Casual Dining

Century Casino – Edmonton Edition (Fort Road)

Century Casino – Edmonton Edition (Fort Road)

Disclaimer:  most of this post is regarding a visit where I was invited by the business to have the full “date night” experience.  Prior to attending the VIP event, I did visit on my own to be able to compare the two different experiences. Please note that all opinions are my own and will not be affected by the complimentary passes.

A co-worker was the first to point out to me that the casinos in Edmonton had really great food specials on a nightly basis.  This gets you in the door so that you will buy a couple of drinks, do some gambling and maybe catch a show. There is actually a lot to do in one of the stand alone casinos here in Edmonton.  She had invited me out to the Century Casino in St. Albert for the rib special one night before a class we were taking together. It was a huge portion, it was really cheap and it was okay (you need to remember I am picky about my BBQ!)  None of us are gamblers, so it is a decent, inexpensive night out with friends.

Fast forward to my invitation.

The original invitation was for one of the concert series of events. It took me forever to try to find a band that I would enjoy watching. (I enjoy really obscure Power Noise bands) I finally picked one and unfortunately one of the members fell ill and they had to reschedule the show.  My schedule is nuts on a good day, so I saved the date to go to the Mid City Grill on my own bill.

It was the Friday Night Buffet for $24.95, but we didn’t do the buffet.  I had a steak sandwich and my husband had one of the burgers. I also had to try the cactus chips with the queso dip. The food was good, my husband really enjoyed his burger.

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At the beginning of the meal, our server was attentive and awesome.  When it came to the end of the meal, not so much. My husband likes to enjoy a post meal beer and some conversation, maybe some dessert.  Our server was intensely focused on cleaning up after the dinner rush and didn’t check in to see if we would like anything else. We got frustrated and just ended up paying our bill and leaving.

So my regular visit synopsis;  the food was good and a good value.  The service was also good but could have been better.

The Influencer experience was similar, only the staff had been briefed that we were visiting.  We were warmly greeted by the Yuk Yuk’s Manager (I am so sorry, I am terrible with names) who escorted us to Mid City Grill.  We were shown to our table.

Thursday night’s special is prime rib for $8.99.  Sold! Prime rib is one of my favourite things to eat.   My husband ordered a very nice looking Beef Tenderloin steak with lobster Bearnaise sauce ($35) that he thoroughly enjoyed.  My Prime Rib was also delicious; juicy and tender. My only wish was that you could choose your “doneness” like you would at a carvery.

They have a really great new featured cocktail menu.  I tried their Negroni, and it was really nice, very refreshing.  I am sure that the rest of the choices are also top notch.

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This time the service was spot on.  Our server was absolutely delightful and made sure that we were well taken care of. We were very full from our meal so decided that we would grab dessert at Yuk Yuks.

We had some time to kill before the Yuk Yuk’s show, so onto the slot machines we go.  Sorry gamblers, it’s not something we do hardly ever.  We put a nice chunk of change in the machines and unfortunately didn’t come out as winners.  It’s a fun way to pass the time though while you wait for your show.

Being all about local, I wanted to attend the comedy night that featured local comedians.  I love to see what talent is up and coming. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Ryan Short was the headliner.  We had the opportunity to catch one of his shows previously and really enjoyed ourselves.

We got upgraded to one of the booths along the back wall when we were seated at Yuk Yuks.  Usually that will cost you an extra $20. I had my eye on a frozen drink from Mid City Grill that I wanted to try with dessert.  I didn’t see it on the Yuk Yuks’ cocktail menu. When I asked the server, they actually have separate menus for the restaurant and the theatre.  She was amazing and went over to Mid City to get me the drink. Thank you!  It was chili and chocolate and delicious! I would go back for a visit just for one of those. Spicy and chocolate is a favourite in our house.

We both chose tiramisu for dessert.  The slabs of cake were HUGE. Neither of us could finish them.  They were very good though, one of those things that you can’t stop eating when it is just sitting there.

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I love that Yuk Yuks is giving the local entertainers a chance at some stage time.  They don’t get long for their set so there were a lot of different acts on the stage.  Honestly, we enjoyed most of them. There were only awkward silences maybe a couple of times where the punchline didn’t land.

Thank you to Chef Walter Esser and the rest of the kitchen team, the food and drinks were top notch!  Thank you to Yuk Yuk’s for the awesome comedy experience.  Thank you to the rest of the Century Casino team for making our “date night” one to remember.

Website:
https://www.cnty.com/edmonton/

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/centurycasinoedm

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/CenturyCasEDM

Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/centurycasino_edmonton/

Underground Tap & Grill Re-Visited

Underground Tap & Grill Re-Visited

Disclaimer: Although I have been to the Underground several times on my own, this particular visit was at the invitation of the business.

I can’t remember how long the Underground Tap & Grill has been around, I know it’s been a few years now.  It used to be a place that I frequented when I worked downtown because it was right across the street and the whole “craft beer” thing was relatively new.  Duck has always been the Chef’s specialty and nothing goes better with a nice cold beer than a nice salty Duck Confit poutine.  My huge dislike for the Underground was that I would go to visit with friends on the weekend and not be able to have a conversation because the music was too loud.

Fast Forward to Today…

No longer working downtown.  Let’s face it – since the new “ICE” district came in the parking is ridiculously expensive on a night where there is an event in the arena.  Most people who have a decent head on their shoulders avoid the whole downtown situation whenever possible at great detriment to the local businesses that depend on us.

Well… Underground has tackled the parking problem and oh so much more!

$3 evening parking after 4pm in the parkade located in the tower right next to Tres Carnales.  Just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Underground.  Aptly named, you will be going down the stairs to the pub to enjoy some great food and now 72 different beers on tap.  72!

There is a wonderful selection of different styles of beer from different breweries.  The selection is always changing.  There is a monthly tap takeover and when the keg is gone, it’s off the menu.  They even have the lovely Brittany as the Beer Manager.  She knows her stuff and is more than happy to help you make an educated choice when you are overwhelmed by the menu. There is also a weekly rotation for the beer cocktails.  These are fun and creative mixtures that will leave you wanting more.

And huge bonus, there is no more live DJ on the weekends so that you can now have a conversation with your friends without having to yell!

Now onto the Food

The menu has also gone through some recent changes.  Duck is still Chef Lang Hsiao’s specialty.   Therefore, we had to try something with duck in it.  We had the Adobo Buffalo Duck Wings ($15) which are also available for the “Wing Wednesday” menu special for half price.  These were just the right amount of spice, moist and delicious.  We will definitely be back for more of these.

There is a new weekly “Chef Special” where Chef gets to be creative.  Of course, I had to try it.  My choice was the “Canadian Back Bacon” which was “Bourbon maple glazed local farmed pork loin, dry cured in house for 10 days.  Served with baked potato, grilled zucchini and egg plant.  Although the flavours were all really good, this was not as tender and moist as I was expecting.

My husband tried the 8 oz. striploin with the peppercorn sauce.  He says the medium rare was done perfectly; tender, moist and delicious.  These come with “all you can eat” sides which are served buffet style.  The peppercorn sauce had a bit of a kick to it that was delightful.

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The Beer…

Oh the beer!  Brittany was wonderful about explaining what a Gose was, as I had not yet had the opportunity to sample one.  The tap takeover was with Red Racer brewery and they had a delicious sounding Gose; the Lime Margarita.

“Inspired by the beaches of Mexico, the essence of a lime margarita is captured in a craft beer. This lightly salted, slightly tart beer is infused with lime juice and a splash of Tequila to give a tropical cocktail take on a German style ale.”

This beer was amazing!  Such a refreshing beer that needs to be enjoyed with some sunshine out on a patio.  I’m a new fan.  Hubby had the Beavertail Raspberry Ale by Grizzly Paw in Canmore.

  • So if you have any burning questions about a particular brew and Brittany is on shift, she has all of the knowledge to help you.
  • We had no room for dessert, however there are 6 lovely choices on the menu for you to enjoy.
  • We were also informed that there is a Saturday Brunch menu available from 11 am to 2 pm on the weekend.
  • The venue is usually accessible but during our visit the elevator was being repaired.
  • There are gluten-free and vegan options available on the menu.

Thank you Underground!  We had a wonderful evening trying the latest menu and taps.  We are looking forward to our next visit.

Website:
http://www.undergroundtapandgrill.com/

Insta:
https://www.instagram.com/undergroundtapandgrill/

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/underground_edm

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/TheUndergroundTapGrill/?fref=ts

Formosa – The Beautiful Island

Formosa – The Beautiful Island

“Formosa” is the former name for the country of Taiwan.  It means “beautiful island”. The owners of the Bistro are lovely people that make the space warm and inviting.  They are often there to answer your questions and make sure you are cared for.

Best Asian Food in Canada

Doing my research before I wrote this article was an eye-opener.  Formosa has won “Best Asian Food in Canada” from asiastar-tv.com in 2018.  I must admit, I have never been to Taiwan but have read that there is a lot of North American influence in the Taiwanese cuisine.  Oreo cookies and cornflakes crumbs are two that come to mind. If you read a review from anyone actually from Taiwan, they complain a lot about pricing and state that they could make the dishes at home.  Please don’t let them distract you from a visit, I promise the food is good!

Best Asian Food in Canada

 

I was originally introduced to Formosa through a Northern Bites experience.  We were treated to the “triangle sandwich” and a panacotta bagged lunch for the ride to the winery.  When we arrived back at the Bistro, we were able to sample the spicy won-tons, popcorn chicken, the yam fries and a Taiwanese version of kimchi.  Chef Yu-Lin Shen showed us all how to make spicy wontons. The highlight of the night was the high mountain tea and an information session on the different types of tea and how they are served.  So informative!

My “solo” journey is when I dragged my husband all the way to the other side of the city because I was craving both the popcorn chicken and the yam fries.

The menu is extensive, but not pages and pages like my favourite Chinese restaurant.  Since Formosa is a “hidden gem” it is not usually busy, although I would love to see that change.  We were promptly seated, I ordered a high mountain tea and hubby had a beer. The tea was a lovely, light flavour compared to most green teas.  They do have a loose leaf version, but unless you specifically ask for it, you will get the convenience of the bagged tea.

High Mountain Tea

I wanted to share my favourites from my preview visit with my husband, so I ordered the yam fries, popcorn chicken and the gyozas.  My husband ordered the Teppanyaki Noodles with Deep Fried Pork Chop.

The yam fries are not like our typical North American sweet potato version.  They are light yellow in color and lightly breaded. They smell like mini-donuts when they are placed on your table!  They have a slightly sweet flavour to them and just the right amount of salt. It tastes like it should be a dessert.

Taiwanese Sweet Potato Fries

The popcorn chicken also has a hint of sweet to it.  You can taste the 5 spice in the breading. They are crispy, not greasy and hard to stop eating!  Tender juicy morsels of deliciousness.

Popcorn Chicken Taiwanese Style

The Gyoza – not the ones you would think… No overpowering vinegar here. Perfectly fried, beautiful texture and a sauce that has a touch of vinegar, grapefruit, soy and wasabi.  The sauce was the perfect companion.

Taiwanese Gyoza

The Teppanyaki Noodles did have the frozen veggies mixed in with them but it doesn’t distract from the taste of the dish.  The noodles were tender without being mushy. This dish is served with a fried egg on top as well as the two large pieces of deep fried pork chop.  It is a very large portion size.

Teppanyaki Noodles

Speaking of portion sizes, Formosa is generous.  After we had eaten our fill, we still had food to pack up in to-go containers.  For two of us, high mountain tea and 2 beer, the bill was right around $50. Great value for your money compared to a lot of places.

The food is nicely plated and the atmosphere is cozy and homey.  The owners try to ensure that everyone feels at home when they walk in for a meal.

It truly is a “beautiful island” tucked away in a strip mall. I will look forward to my next “stay-cation” soon.

Website:  https://www.formosabistro.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BistroFormosa

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/formosa.bistro.ca/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/formosa.bistro/

Golomein – From the Streets of Brunei

Golomein – From the Streets of Brunei

Ever since I was introduced to Golomein at Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market, I have been hooked.  When you get a craving for BBQ Pork Golomein, nothing else will do.

What is Golomein?

“In a traditional broth based noodle, the flavour is contained in the broth itself. With Golomein, the dry mix or “Golo” noodles are cooked separately and then blended with marinating sauce infusing the flavours of the delicious sauce directly into the noodles. The noodles are then complimented with the addition of their homemade oven roasted BBQ pork, spiced ground pork mixture and fresh bok choy.”

Once you have had a taste of these noodles, you won’t want to go anywhere else.

There is always a lovely story on how every small business started and Alex’s story is inspiring as well:

“Our Dad developed the recipe initially 52 years ago where he worked the streets of Brunei, as a hawker trying to earn enough money to support a family of 10.  Struggling against all odds, he developed the awesome recipe he would later bring to North America”.

He made his noodles only to serve his friends, family and coworkers charging them only for their gas and their time it took them to visit his home.  He even delivered packages to his mother who always looked forward to the tasty treat.

The fabulous noodles caught on and before long, everyone wanted more.  People searched for the delicious meals, but they were at the mercy of whenever Dad felt like making them and his kitchen was the only place this amazing taste could be found.

Alex, the youngest, was unable to sleep one night, so he decided to do a marathon session of watching 5 episodes of “Dragon’s Den”.  Tired of beating his head in the corporate world, he decided a change was in order.

It brought back memories of the work his Dad put into his noodle recipe that he created over 50 years ago.  The noodles were so good that Alex’s childhood friend, Paris, would ride his way-too- small bike halfway across the city just to eat the noodles.

Recognizing the incredible opportunity before him, he immediately told his 2 brothers, Albert and Allen.  Alex’s enthusiasm was infectious and it didn’t take much convincing to persuade his 2 siblings to join his quest to bring their dad’s noodle recipe to the masses.  All 3 brothers were excited about continuing their beloved Dad’s legacy and making noodles for future generations.”

For the frozen meal packs, the noodles are lovingly prepared and then packaged in a neatly folded square of butcher paper. Then they are frozen. They are sold individually ($13) or in packages of 5 ($60). You simply pop the frozen package, paper and all, in the microwave for 5 to 6 minutes and then unfold the package to open and enjoy! You don’t even need to transfer the contents to a plate or bowl. They are available with beef, pork or chicken.  I recommend the pork.

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Golomein is located just south of the south leg of the Henday on Ellwood Drive.  It is a bit of a drive for me. I was THRILLED to hear from Alex that the frozen meal packs can be delivered through Skip the Dishes now!  So if you don’t live way down in south Edmonton, you can arrange a time to have the frozen meals dropped off. Bonus, meal prep done for the week.

The restaurant hours are a bit all over the place as the Golomein family is at the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market, the Salisbury Farmer’s Market and the Sherwood Park Farmer’s Market.  If you look them up on Google Maps, the hours listed are very accurate. For an up to date list of markets and hours, please be sure to visit their website.

Website: https://www.golomeinrestaurant.ca/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/golomein/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/golomein/

Skip the Dishes: https://www.golomein.ca/

 

Amore Pasta – New Downtown Location NOW OPEN!

Amore Pasta – New Downtown Location NOW OPEN!

From the makers of Cafe Amore Bistro and the Black Pearl Seafood comes the new and improved downtown location of Amore Pasta.

Family recipes passed down from Italy will tantalize your tastebuds on this budget-friendly, build-your-own menu.  Yes, there is an Amore Pasta on the south side, but that location is just pasta and pales in comparison to the new downtown location.  They are open at 8 am for breakfast – yes, breakfast!

There is a lovely cappuccino bar to serve up some espresso and baked goods in the morning.  If you need something heartier, they have some signature omelettes available as well as the build-your-own versions.  Choose how many eggs you would like, add your choice of veggies, protein and cheese.  You can even choose to have a side of Amore hash (crumbled Italian sausage, cheddar cheese, green onions, mushrooms and peppers).  Can’t decide?  There are five signature Baked Eggs al Forno and omelettes to choose from.

Franchise? No!

The Crudo Family will have none of that!  They would love to have Amore Pasta all over the countryside, but they want to ensure quality over quantity.  They have a central “warehouse” location where the sauces etc. are made lovingly called “Papa Giuseppe’s”.   They are hoping to have more “in-house” made fresh pastas in the future.

Lunch and dinner will knock your socks off!

You can order a beer or wine to go with your dinner creation.  Make sure you try the fried lasagne bites with Papa Joe’s red sauce to start off with, they are very tasty!

This is similar to a Subway concept where you go up and order your food and bring it back to your table to enjoy.  Lunch can be quick, delicious and painless.

The “Return of the Mac” shall be triumphant.  They have 5 signature choices and the macaroni is made fresh daily.  “Pizza Me” is pictured in my slideshow; red onion, mixed peppers, crumbled Italian sausage, cheddar and mozza cheese.  This rib-sticking delight will surely satisfy.

Create Your Own Pasta starts out with the pasta and sauce, you add your choice of veggies, your protein and cheese.  Again, there are five signature pastas to choose from if you can’t decide or are in a hurry.  I couldn’t get enough of the “Sicilian”; made with homemade Strozzapreti, marsala cream sauce, green onions.  All of the flavours blend together beautifully.   It was a delight to eat.

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Where is it?

10235 101 Street, right in the Ice District.  There is a surface Impark parking lot located across the street but that can get pretty pricey during a game night.  There is also parking available in the tower which is much more reasonable.  Open at 8 am for breakfast and closes normally at 9 pm on weekdays.  Open at 11 am and close at 9 pm on weekends.  They will be adjusting hours to the crowd and are wanting to be open for food and drink after the games.

Gluten Free options available.

Since you are building your own meal, you have the option to pick items that are gluten free.  Your food is cooked right in front of you. Ask your server for details.

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Rendezvous Pub

Rendezvous Pub

As I reflect back on some of my favourite moments in 2018, a large quantity of them came from Rendezvous.

As well as being a food judge, I am also a huge metalhead. Rendezvous is like a second home to me.  Calvin, Dez and the rest of the staff have always been welcoming and it feels good to be recognized when you walk through the doors of your favourite pub.

The Vous has stepped it up a lot over the past year.  I can remember the good old days when there wasn’t a lot of choice for what you were drinking when you sat down to enjoy a live show.  Now there are local breweries available on tap. There is a great selection of bottles as well. This beer snob appreciates the chance to enjoy local.

Although the Vous is not renowned for its food, the wings are some of the best that I have been able to find in Edmonton.  Thoughtful right down to the finger bowls, which no one else in the city seems to do any longer. Wing night is Wednesday and they are 40 cents per wing with a minimum order of 12.  You can’t beat that deal!

There is a menu featuring a selection of your pub favourites.  Nothing fancy, just simple, delicious food. If you go for food, be patient.  The kitchen is always open, but there isn’t always a cook for the late night hours.

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Earlier this year, the City of Edmonton had proposed a plan where the building that houses the Vous was to be demolished and the LRT track was going to be built there.  This gave a lot of us in the community a huge panic attack. Calvin and the rest of the crew were not going to stand for it and went directly to City Hall to let them know this was not okay!  Thankfully the decision was rescinded. Way to go team Vous!

The Rendezvous is so supportive of the local live music community.  It’s not a huge venue, but they bring in some great talent and there is a live band just about every weekend.  Calvin is awesome about supporting local charities as well. The Christsmash Eve event complete with Church burning at midnight was awesome for us Christmas orphans. The Edmonton Food Bank was the charity of choice for the night.

I almost forgot about karaoke!  I’m too chicken to get up on stage myself, but I know most karaoke places don’t have a lot of metal on the playlist.  It’s cool to see your favourite front man from a local band belting out some karaoke tune. Only at the Vous.

And we can’t forget about Calvin… Calvin has been the Manager of Vous for as long as I can remember.  He is generally quiet and can appear a bit intimidating, but don’t let that fool you. He works hard for our little community and brings all of his wrestling and Dead Jesus experience to the table.  It’s much easier to book shows when you have actually put in the time on the stage. Thank you for all that you do for us Calvin!

I am looking forward to many more Wednesday Wing Nights with my crew in 2019 and can’t wait to see what awaits the Vous for live shows.

Check out the Vous this year where the wings are hot, the beers are cold and the shows are live!  Tell them YEGfoodie sent you.

Otto Food and Drink

Otto Food and Drink

Anyone that knows me, knows I am not a fan of what Christmas has become…  To me it is not about all of the commercialism and who buys what for whom.  It should be about celebrating with family and friends, spending time with loved ones and enjoying wonderful food and drink together.

Otto was started on that premise.  It was meant to be a gathering place for families and friends where you can enjoy some great Alberta craft beer and some great company.  The food was not the focus, but is still a wonderful part of the celebration that is Otto.

Owner Ed Donszelmann (previously of Culina Mill Creek) is the creative force behind this little neighbourhood Gem tucked away in the Norwood community.  The decor is simple and warm. There is an overhead garage door that can be opened for the summer months. Ed ads to the warmth of the space by being present and making his rounds.  He makes sure each guest is well taken care of.

The liquor menu has a lot to choose from.  The focus is on the beer, but there is a full bar and a wine list available as well.  There is something to quench everyone’s thirst, or to pair with the simply delicious food.

The food… You can clearly see Ed’s Dutch influence on the menu.  Otto’s specialty is Fuge Fine Meats which are now exclusively available only at Otto.  You may have experienced some of Steve’s sausage at one of the local markets. The sausages are flavourful, tender and delicious – even the vegan option!

For our visit we tried the “Otto Dog” and the vegan “Smoked Apple Sage” sausage.  Monday night is a great time to visit with $6 pints of beer and $6 sausages. The sausage is served naked with a small serving of sauerkraut and a home made pickle. If you want a bun for that bad boy, it’s only an extra $2.  The mustards that you have to choose from are also amazing. If I remember correctly, Red Head Condiments supplies them.

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I don’t normally like many versions of vegan/plant-based “meat”.  It is usually an awful texture and not that tasty. Fuge has managed to make a plant-based sausage that is the same texture you would expect from a normal, every-day meat sausage.  The flavours were nicely balanced, slightly smoky and delicious. I enjoyed a side order of the deep fried cauliflower.

My handsome dinner companion was nice enough to give me a taste of the Otto Dog; Sylvan Star smoked Gouda, caraway and fresh garlic are the standouts in this undeniably rich, flavourful sausage.  They are not joking with that description. Juicy, tender and delicious. He had the garlic herb fries with spicy mayo as his side.

I thought that between two of us we would be able to try a few options, but we tapped out after the single sausage and side.  Not even room for dessert! (I hear good things about dessert too though!)

Otto does focus on local suppliers and ingredients, you can see the loving detail that went into the menu with each item that is shared.  You can taste the difference.

Children are welcome at Otto.  Sundays they have a kids meal for only $5.  You won’t break the bank with a visit to Otto, the prices are very reasonable.

Grab a couple of friends and enjoy some great beer, food and sparkling conversation at Otto.

 

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/otto_yeg/

 

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ottofoodanddrink/

 

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/OTTO_YEG

Swiss 2 Go

Swiss 2 Go

Swiss 2 Go is one of those places in Edmonton that you kind of take for granted.  They have been in Edmonton serving Swiss style sandwiches and desserts since 2012.  I have had the pleasure of attending a couple of events catered by Swiss 2 Go but had never stopped by the storefront.  Their specialty is soup, sandwiches and dessert.

Narcity made photos of their teacup cheesecakes go viral and my dessert loving friend Brenna insisted that we make a girl date of it.

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I wanted to pop in and see what the rest of the menu was like before I invited all my ladies out.

My husband and I stopped by one evening for a sandwich and dessert.  Plenty of free parking available out front. When you walk into the café it is like walking in off the street into a grandmother’s kitchen.  Very cute knick knacks everywhere. It is an environment that feels very comforting. The menus are all handwritten chalkboards and selections rotate regularly.  There is a coffee bar, a selection of teas and always some citrus infused water available.

The sandwiches run around $10 – $12 for the smaller size.  Since we were there primarily to try the cheesecake, we opted for the smaller sized sandwich.  They are big!

The sandwiches are served on a bun that is a combination of brioche and pretzel.  It has a beautifully soft inside and that nice chewy crust with the kosher salt. You could almost put anything on that bun and call it delicious!  The sandwiches are made with such care and attention to detail, presented with a Swiss flag skewer to keep it all together. The fillings are made with quality ingredients and piled high.  I don’t know how anyone could finish one of the larger versions.

The teacup cheesecakes will run you $13.  Pricey? Not for what you get. They were almost too pretty to eat.  Once you get over the artistry and dig in, they are just as delicious as they are beautiful.  Hand made with quality ingredients. No artificial flavours or preservatives. We got to try one of the green tea versions and a fresh fig version.

When I spoke with the lovely Drita about bringing my group of ladies in, she was telling me that they have 150 different varieties of cheesecake.  She is always willing to create something new with the caveat that if it is popular, it goes on the menu! Drita was lovely enough to print me off the list of flavours so that I could let the ladies choose and order ahead.

It was exciting being able to see all of the flavours to choose from, but also a bit overwhelming because it may take me a couple of years to try them all!

We got our favourites picked and ordered in advance.  All of my ladies dressed up and wore their fancy hats.  We arrived – the place was PACKED! (this was Saturday afternoon)

PRO-TIP:  Swiss 2 Go does not take reservations!  We had no idea.

We finally managed to sweet talk another table into trading so that we could get two tables together which would be enough space to fit our large group.  Mission accomplished.

We enjoyed our mochas and lattes, and caught up on each other’s lives.  We had a delightfully lovely afternoon. The cheesecakes were heavenly. My flavour was honey lavender.  It was garnished with a sprig of dry lavender. So pretty.

Hicks on Six gave Swiss 2 Go a pretty amazing review and he can be a bit of a hard ass.  Budget and epicurean friendly. Go support local and give them a visit!

 

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/Swiss2Go

 

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/swiss2go

 

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/swiss2go/

 

OSFM Quarterly Local Food Tour – Picnic Edition

OSFM Quarterly Local Food Tour – Picnic Edition

One of the most epic places in the city of Edmonton to be able to support your local small businesses, find sustainable and healthy food choices and get that “Farm to Fork” experience is the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market

The market started outdoors in 1983 in the space that is now the free parking.  It is now Edmonton’s largest year-round indoor market with approximately 10,000 people through the door each Saturday. 

A team of Edmonton bloggers was invited to a meet and greet with some of the local producers and farmers this past weekend.  This was their first “food tour” and they called it the “Picnic Edition”. 

It was an early start for some, but the market gets busy (and quite crowded) quickly.


After we were all introduced to our lovely Hostess, April, we were on our way to our first stop which was Sunworks Farm

Sheila was very passionate when she was talking about her farm and the way that the animals are treated humanely and respectfully.  Coming from an indigenous background myself, this is something that has always been important to me.  The animals should be treated well, killed humanely and we should use as many parts from snout to tail as we are able.  Sunworks does all those things. 

Their farm was started because their daughter had such severe allergies and food sensitivities that they needed to be able to grow their own food.  They started out feeding themselves and through a few requests started raising a little bit more, and a little bit more until it grew into what it is today.  No farming background.  Amazing! 

Free range, BCSPCA certified humane, grass fed, certified organic and “as close to nature as possible”.

These folks are passionate about their farm and their animals and it shows.  The end products are delicious, good for you AND celiac safe and allergy free.  The Chicken Moroccan sausages are so good. 

 

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Sunworks has an open farm day on September 3.  Go and meet the family, have lunch and get a tour.  You need to REGISTER to attend.  See you there!  

 


Our next stop is now one of my new favourite things to eat!  

Alex from Golomein Noodle House introduced us to his fresh, healthy and convenient meal packs.

There is always a lovely story on how every small business started and Alex’s story is inspiring as well:

“Our Dad developed the recipe initially 52 years ago where he worked the streets of Brunei, as a hawker trying to earn enough money to support a family of 10.  Struggling agains all odds, he developed the awesome recipe he would later bring to North America”.

He made his noodles only to serve his friends, family and coworkers charging them only for their gas and their time it took them to visit his home.  He even delivered packages to his mother who always looked forward to the tasty treat. 

The fabulous noodles caught on and before long, everyone wanted more.  People searched for the delicious meals, but they were at the mercy of whenever Dad felt like making them and his kitchen was the only place this amazing taste could be found.

Alex, the youngest was unable to sleep one night , so he decided to do a marathon session of watching 5 episodes of “Dragon’s Den”.  Tired of beating his head in the corporate world, he decided a change was in order.

It brought back memories of the work his Dad put into his noodle recipe that he created over 50 years ago.  The noodles were so good that Alex’s childhood friend, Paris, would rid his way too small bike halfway across the city just to eat the noodles. 

Recognizing the incredible opportunity before him, he immediately told his 2 brothers, Albert and Allen.  Alex’s enthusiasm was infectious and it didn’t take much convincing to persuade his 2 siblings to join his quest to bring their dad’s noodle recipe to the masses.  All 3 brothers were excited about continuing their beloved Dad’s legacy and making noodles for future generations.”

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For the meal packs, the noodles are lovingly prepared and then packaged in a neatly folded square of butcher paper.  They are then frozen.  They are sold individually ($11) or in packages of 5 ($50).  You simply pop the frozen package, paper and all in the microwave for 5 to 6 minutes and then unfold the package to open and enjoy!  You don’t even need to transfer the contents to a plate or bowl.  They are available in beef or pork.  

If you crave them like I do, the family has a restaurant waaaaay in the south with a more varied menu. Worth the drive!


Next stop was Mojo Jojo Pickles and Preserves.  Johwanna has been an Edmonton staple for many years now.  She is definitely a pickling artist and knows how to make the vinegar bend to her will!

Salted caramel pear butter… Do I even need to say anything else?  We were treated to some very lovely marscapone grilled cheese sandwiches with some equally lovely pear butter to dip it in.  This was simply joy on the tongue!  The pear butter would go well with so many things, as do many of her pickled veggies.  Charcuterie anyone? 

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Johwanna was also sampling “Shrubs” which is a drinking vinegar.  I had no idea how tasty they are.  I am a new fan!  

If you can’t make it to the market, Johwanna has a store on the website where you can purchase most of the products. 


Nancy from Market Pizza was our next stop.  “Delicious take & bake pizza made with the finest ingredients”.   The booth smells amazing!  They offer samples all day. 

If you would like to make your own creation, they also offer frozen, ready-made crusts.  They have a secret recipe that makes it the lightest pizza crust that I have ever come across. It is not a thin crust, but it is light and airy, almost like the dough is whipped before baking.  

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The take & bake pizzas are frozen and are $15 each.  There are some amazing flavours available and it will be a different mix every Saturday at the market.  I tried the Bacon Cheeseburger and the Donair pizzas.  It was like you were eating a cheeseburger or a donair, just a flat version without the traditional bun or wrap.  Both of them were delicious, but my favourite out of the two was the donair pizza.  A donair eating experience without all the mess!  

I can’t wait to get my hands on another.  


Monica with Rainbow Acres was our next stop.  Berry farm extraordinaire!! 

How Rainbow Acres farms differently:

From Dave’s own market garden specific equipment to their modified old granary pack house, Dave and Monica are masters at making use of materials to fit their needs. This kind of instinctual innovation is part of what makes their operation so unique.

Their incredible variety of crops is a result of their eagerness to try anything new that comes to their attention. They like to “dabble” in many crops to see what will thrive on their land and add to their already diverse produce offerings. Anytime something new comes up, they want to try it out.

When they started in 1989, Dave and Monica were cautioned against doing fruits and veggies at the same time because their harvest seasons overlapped. While it can be an intense work load, they’ve been making it work for years. While most of their fruit is used in processing their delicious jams, jellies and juices, in her commercial kitchen Monica also processes many of the veggies that are leftover from market. To make sure none of their product ever goes to waste, Rainbow Acres regularly donates left over fresh produce to the Edmonton and Leduc Food Banks.

And those are just the Coles notes!  Rainbow Acres is famous for their carrots, but they have a wide selection of preserves to choose from at the market.  These are some hard working farmers!  

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I used to help my Grandmother with the canning, pickles and jam.  It’s a lot of hard work!  Rainbow Acres makes it easy for you to stock up for the winter and to pop a few of their products into a gift basket at Christmas time (its close folks!) 


Martina’s Vegan House, where veggies are sexy, is up next. 

I got the impression that the Peanut Brittle is what Martina’s passion is.  Vegan Peanut Brittle is available in the regular version, or the spicy version.  The spicy version is amazing.  

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Martina has frozen vegan meals, soups and stews at her booth for all of you folks that are passionate about plant based eating!


Doef’s Greenhouses visit was a bit of an eye opener.  The family has been farming since 1979.  What is grown today is all done hydroponically in greenhouses which allows vegetable production all year round.  Currently the greenhouses span 11 acres and employ 50 people. I had no idea that we even had such an operation near Edmonton.  

Tomatoes are what they started with, their grape tomatoes are juicy and full of flavour. The main crops continue to be Long English cucumbers, mini cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers, with small amounts of eggplant and hot peppers as well.

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Birds & Bees Organic Winery and Meadery was the next stop.  My Grandfather kept bees so I was fortunate to see the whole process of how the honey was extracted from the hives.  A sweet treat for me as a child was to be able to chew on the beeswax that had a bit of honey left behind.  As an adult I still love the smell of beeswax and used to be obsessed with making candles. 

From the website: 

“Birds & Bees Organic Winery and Meadery straddles the fine line between naughty and nice – and sometimes more. Flirtatiously flavored and seductively styled, our full-bodied wines and mead are always up for a one night stand or an evening rendezvous. 

But, you can’t have your Marilyn Monroe without your Jackie-O.

A little restraint can make a true romance.

So how do you like it? The purity and innocence of the Bird? Or the seductive tease of the Bee?”

The statement above from the website sums things up quite nicely.  Naughty names like “Kinky Cranberry” and “Big Tease Raspberry” adorn the bottles.  If you visit the website, it gives you the sassy profile of the wine and tells you what it pairs best with.  

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The wines and meads are available at some liquor stores in Edmonton. Liquor Connect can help you find them! 


Ben was next up with Farm Fresh Lamb/Blacksheep Farm 

Another reason why I love the farmer’s market: Sustainably grown & humanely treated without the use of animal by-products or growth promotants.  No antibiotics, no animal by-products.  The sheep are fed a mixture of oats, barley, yellow peas and alfalfa hay grown on the farm in the Peace Country, and allowed to pasture graze during the summer months.

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I find that when you treat the animals well and give them a good diet, the meat tastes much better.  With lamb, if it is butchered properly, it doesn’t have that “gamey” taste that a lot of people complain about.  I am going to be looking up all kinds of lamb recipes now!  

 


Last, but certainly not least was Sean from Mighty Trio.  (no website)  From Organic Box:
 
“Mighty Trio Organics is a family owned and operated business located on a beautiful acreage just outside of Redwater Alberta. They are both a manufacturer and distributer of highly nutritious, fresh foods such as hemp, flax, and canola oils. This allows them the opportunity to interact directly with customers and seed producers. By bringing people closer to the farms where their food is grown they are able to provide the freshest, most nutrient rich foods available. Mighty Trio Organics values the environment and supports local businesses, which is why they only use seeds that are grown as close to their facility as possible. By supporting Mighty Trio Organics you are also supporting local farmers and because their products have not traveled great distances, you are also making a friendlier choice for our planet. Mighty Trio Organics provides you and your family with the fats, fibers, proteins and nutrients essential for healthy bodies and minds. To your good health!”

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Smoke Point” is a thing.  Hemp is not recommended for frying.  Canola on the other hand has a pretty high smoke point compared to other oils.  So the hemp and flax oils are great for salad dressings etc.  In fact Culina has done a collaboration project with Mighty Trio to make their salad dressing. 

This food tour was an absolutely wonderful experience.  It gave me the opportunity to get to know the people behind the brand.  I am very passionate about shopping local, but not necessarily someone that will approach the owners to get to know them.  This was very informative and very fun.  

I look forward to meeting more of the vendors for the next round, and sharing them with you! 

 

Welcome to Canada Bubba Gump!

Welcome to Canada Bubba Gump!

Today at 11am, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company opens the doors to it’s first restaurant in Canada.

I was shocked to find out that there are only 28 restaurants across the United States.  The company has a relationship with the Mall of America, so West Edmonton Mall turned out to be a logical choice.  If you haven’t been to the mall in a while, Bubba Gump is located on the upper level near the Scotiabank Theatre. (Above RAAS for those of you that shop local!)

If you haven’t seen the movie “Forrest Gump“, you really should.  This restaurant is themed around the movie.  For the preview, they had a lovely gentleman playing Forrest who was greeting all of the guests, taking selfies with everyone and generally being an incredible conversationalist.  I manipulated the conversation into:

“You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. There’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich.”

He didn’t quote verbatim, but he nailed it!  Forrest was such a nice touch for our preview evening.

The menu has a very southern Louisiana feel to it; with a bit of spice and a big dash of southern hospitality!  There is a kid’s menu as well – this is a family friendly environment.

I found out that each restaurant’s “kitsch” is hand picked.  They actually search garage sales and various other places to find all of the objects that adorn the walls of each restaurant.  I noticed some signage that was local.  The attention to detail in the environment lends itself to the total experience.  If you ignore the fact that you are in WEM, you can almost smell the salty air off of the ocean when you sit.

The food is presented beautifully.  There are a LOT of ways that you can prepare shrimp.  There are chicken, ribs and steak on the menu if you are not feeling the shrimp selections.  This is a restaurant that specializes in seafood though, so be prepared.

The food and the cocktails were fantastic.  I didn’t get a chance to take a peek at the beer menu, but it does sound like there is craft beer available.  The staff were so friendly and attentive that you feel that southern hospitality.

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OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE:

EDMONTON, ALBERTA – Landry’s is excited to announce Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. will open its 15th international location in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on Thursday, June 28. The new restaurant will be located within West Edmonton Mall – North America’s largest indoor shopping destination.

“West Edmonton Mall presents a great opportunity for our brand. It is a unique attraction that brings a large, diverse group of tourists and locals through its doors daily,” said Jim Dufault, Chief Operating Officer of Landry’s. “Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is recognized around the world for its entertaining atmosphere, family-friendly service and quality seafood. We look forward to bringing our famous charm and hospitality to the Edmonton community.”

Inspired by the Paramount Pictures’ hit film “Forrest Gump,” Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. presents a down-home, family-friendly dining experience that perfectly captures the charm and American spirit that made the film a smash hit. Each location offers a taste of southern hospitality, friendly service made efficient with its famous “Run Forrest Run” and “Stop Forrest Stop” license plate signs, as well as scenes from the film played throughout the entire restaurant. It also offers interactive movie trivia, a retail market with regionalized merchandise and the iconic ‘Box of Chocolates’ for purchase, as well as photo opportunities with the famous Shrimp Louie mascot and replica bus benches near the front entrance.

Today, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. remains the first and only theme restaurant chain based on a motion picture, serving patrons around the world including Bali, Cancun, Hong Kong, London and Tokyo among many others, as well as major destinations across the United States like Universal CityWalk – Orlando, FL and Hollywood, CA; Santa Monica Pier in California; Times Square in New York City; the Las Vegas Strip; Navy Pier in Chicago; Mall of America; Miami, FL; and San Francisco’s Pier 39.

Known for its quality seafood, the restaurant offers 19 different preparations of shrimp, as well as an exciting variety of fish entrees, steak and chicken dishes, crisp salads, fun kid’s meals, creative desserts and award-winning ribs. Signature menu items include guest favorites such as Coconut Shrimp, Dixie-style Baby Back Ribs plus appetizers like Poutine, Bubba’s Far Out Dip, Shrimper’s Net Catch and the Run Across America Sampler featuring a taste of all of the appetizer favorites. Guests can also enjoy popular entrees like the Grilled Seafood Trio, Jenny’s Catch with Lobster Butter Sauce or the Jambalaya.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. will be located on Level Two of West Edmonton Mall, overlooking the famous Santa Maria – an exact replica of Christopher Columbus’ flagship that sailed to the Americas in 1492. West Edmonton Mall is home to more than 800 stores and services, including nine world-class attractions, two hotels, the widest variety of one-of-a-kind retailers, and entertainment for all ages. The new location will be open SundayThursday from 11 AM – 10 PM and FridaySaturday from 11 AM – 11 PM. For more information, please call 780-244-4867 or visit www.bubbagump.com 

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