Category: Cocktails

Valentine’s Dinner Experience by Chef Mikael Charlton

Valentine’s Dinner Experience by Chef Mikael Charlton

A friend of a friend…

I have had the pleasure of being a Facebook friend with Chef Mikael for a while now. A mutual friend used to always post his creations on her feed. Everything looked and sounded delicious. Being the foodie that I am, I sent a friend request and have been able to watch such delightful creations being posted all the time.

There are many Chefs out there, and many people that like to cook. There are few that have that passion, that fire to create, the delight when someone enjoys their creation. I am delighted to report Chef Mikael has that passion and fire.

Being a Chef is hard work

The average person that sits down in a restaurant to enjoy a meal has no idea how much is going on in the background to make sure that the plate in front of you is perfect.  There is recipe research and development, gathering the perfect ingredients, practicing until you have it right and then making the plating a work of art.  Hours of prep time go into the menu.  Just like a musician or painter, Chefs are also artists.

Let them shine!

My best restaurant experiences have been at the invitation of the Chef for a “not on the menu” tasting.  I have been fortunate enough to experience some world-class food in my time.  When a Chef is given no limitations and just allowed to let their creativity shine, this is when you will see, feel and taste those masterpieces.  This is not just food.  This is an experience.

The delicate balancing of flavours and textures, making sure everything is cooked to perfection, served at the perfect temperature.  The artists do this.

Chef Mikael is currently working with Cask and Barrel located on 100 ave and 104 street in downtown Edmonton.  It is a smaller, cozy high-end cocktail lounge that has eats and sometimes live music.  I quickly glanced at the regular menu and there are some tasty looking things on there, but I was focused on the evening at hand.  Let your light shine Chef!

Valentine's Menu

Let’s start with the Drunken Prawn Bisque.

Drunken Prawn Bisque

Not only is it beautiful, but it was spicy and delicious.  The cream on top and the crunch of the (I think it was green onion, I forgot to ask) made this the perfect, warm cup of love on a very brutally cold winter night.  It was like a hug in a bowl.  This was perfect to wake up those tastebuds for the main.

The next beauty to grace our table was the Spinach and double creme brie stuffed chicken breast wrapped in puff pastry with a Sambuca cream reduction.  It was accompanied by seasonal veggies and brown butter sage gnocchi.

Spinach and Brie Stuffed Chicken Breast

This was perfection on a plate.  It was a large portion, and I just couldn’t stop eating it!  The chicken breast was tender and juicy with the delicately balanced tender/crispy textures and the slightly sweet taste of the Sambuca cream sauce with the spinach and brie.  The gnocchi was addictive, I could have eaten it all night.  Perfectly simple and delicious.  The seasonal vegetables were also cooked to perfection texture wise, and the eggplant that they were served on had a slightly smoky flavour to it.  We both ended up tapping out about half way through because we knew we needed to save room for dessert.

Red Velvet Rose

This was a rose made from red velvet cake topped with creme fraiche, drizzled with creme de cacao hot fudge and salted caramel sauce.  Not too sweet, moist, chocolatey goodness.  So many flavours to mix in different ways, and beautiful!  My only complaint from the entire experience was that the creme fraiche covered up the rose, it could have been that much prettier.

This was a wonderful way to celebrate love day with my husband.  The wait staff was friendly and attentive, the “Dark and Stormy” was tasty, it was just a perfect evening out.  Thank you Chef!  It was lovely to finally meet you and shake your hand.

Be prepared readers, I will be spamming you with Chef’s future creations.  Stay tuned for more awesomeness!

 

2015; My Year in Review

2015; My Year in Review

Everyone seems to be doing a “Year in Review”, so I thought I might as well take a stab at it myself.

It has been an extremely busy year for me as far as my day job is concerned.  I ended up banking a whole pile of hours this past year.  This means that I did not get to spend as much time as I would have liked dedicated to blogging.  This equates to not as many invites to menu launches and special events which leads to some more hard work on my part to get out and get eating at Edmonton’s many new restaurants that have launched this year.

Not so much for blogging in 2015, but lots was going on for Twitter and Instagram.  I actually reached my 2015 goal on Instagram for 1000 followers.  Go me!

I was able to indulge in some old favourites this year as well as find some new ones.  I would like to share my top five with you.

B’s Diner

I finally had the opportunity to go and have breakfast at B’s one weekend and meet the lady that is a legend, Brenda Der.  There were previously two “Bs” that made up B’s Diner now there can be only one!  Brenda has taken the reins of the Diner and there are going to be some new and exciting menu changes that are coming up for 2016.

At B’s you will find traditional Diner fare as well as some menu items on special that are just good home cooking.  The Tocino (Filipino) breakfast special is something that I highly recommend you try!

Not only does this lovely lady run the diner, she also runs a not-for-profit school lunch program for children, a yearly Christmas dinner for the less fortunate, Christmas hampers for needy families, Christmas meals for seniors and the women’s shelters… etc.  Brenda has a huge heart and donates a lot of her time to charitable acts.  Watch out for her campaigns throughout the new year.

Downtown Diner – Fort Saskatchewan

Keith and Lori of the Downtown Diner in Fort Saskatchewan are also wonderful people.  It is a journey that is generally out-of-the-way for most people who live in Edmonton, but it is certainly worth the drive, and the wait at the doors.

Everything in the Diner is made from scratch.  The red glitter vinyl and 50’s style décor completes the ambiance of an almost authentic Diner experience; the only thing missing is the actual streetcar!

My favourite at the Downtown Diner has to be the BLT.  It is made with thick cut brown sugar bacon.  All of the fixin’s are fresh.  I always order a side of the Diner chips and an extra order to take home.  I still haven’t had enough room for dessert, but will make it a 2016 goal to go!

Daravara – 124 Street

Daravara is my new neighborhood “go to” for some really great eats.  Some of the staff, including the Chef, are transplants from Dadeo.  It’s a great place to go for drinks and dinner after a rough day at work.

After eating here several times before and after my review, I can tell you that you now will need to wait for a table on a Friday or Saturday night.  If Beth is working, sit in her section, she will take excellent care of you!  The burnt honey and garlic cauliflower is still my favourite food item here; I am hoping they will keep it!

Fairmont Hotel MacDonald – Downtown

The Mac is still on my top list of favourites.  Chef Jost and his staff are such wonderful hosts.

The Confederation Lounge is a little more on the casual side to enjoy some nice drinks and a beautiful view.  The “Classics Perfected” cocktail menu that just launched a few weeks ago is something that you really need to go and try.  The “Old Fashioned” has got to be my favourite here.

Privada Wine and Tapas – St. Albert

Privada was one of my favourites of 2014 with a wonderful meal that I got to experience from Chef Tony Krause.  To make a long story short, Tony went on an adventure for a few months and is now back at Privada.

Privada has as many locally sourced and grown ingredients as possible.  The charcuterie is cured in-house.  Chef has done some foraging so knows his wild ingredients and his seafood; he supports sustainability.  The owners are gracious and supportive of Chef.

For our anniversary dinner this year, we decided to switch it up a bit and go to a pop-up at Privada that was hosted by Chef Tony.   We were not disappointed.  This was my favourite meal of the year!  There wasn’t one dish that I did not enjoy.

There are so many wonderful eateries in Edmonton that it is hard to experience every one of them.  By supporting our local businesses, we support our local economy and help people flourish right here at home.  I am guilty of “grab and go” when I don’t have time to eat properly.  My goal for 2016 is to see how much more I can switch over to supporting local.

The three that I am most looking forward to in 2016;

The Buddha Boys are Chef Daniel Huber previously of the Pourhouse and Chef Levi Biddlecombe of “Attila the Hungry”.  They launched at the end of the 2015 Food Truck season and had some great things going on.  They have been busy with the launch of Hart House in Camrose the past few months.  I can’t wait to see what they come up with in the new year.  Completely my fault for them not being featured in my top five, I have been so busy with life that I have not had a chance to make it into Hart’s House.  I am a huge fan of Chef Daniel’s gourmet creations! And Levi, I really miss those damn Duck Tots!

The Local Omnivore is back in a new incarnation of a licensed deli very close to home here in Edmonton.  They previously had a Food Truck that had really great coffee and their own cured and smoked bacon. They have only been open a few weeks and I am excited to finally have the time to get over there and give them a try!

Duchess Bake Shop is opening up a breakfast eatery in the same plaza as The Local Omnivore boys.  Duchess has gotten so busy that they have had to expand into a four bay location!  If the pastries are to die for, I can only imagine what breakfast will be like!

Watch out for some blogs coming up on local charities that support feeding the city of Edmonton.  Charities are also a passion, I have put in many hours this past year getting to know some really great people.

I hope that you and your loved ones have a very happy and healthy new year.  Cheers to 2016!

 

Fairmont Macdonald Launches New Cocktail Program Designed by Elite Bartenders

Fairmont Macdonald Launches New Cocktail Program Designed by Elite Bartenders

Tonight!  Fairmont Macdonald has invited taste testers from Edmonton to welcome the new cocktail menu.  Please follow live on Instagram and Twitter tonight at 5:30pm.

(@yegfoodie or on your left here on the website)

Please see the press release below for more information:

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– Fairmont Tastemakers from around the world combine talent and technique to create new level of excellence in hotel cocktail creation globally

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is inviting guests to taste what happens when elite mixologists from around the world come together to craft cocktails.

Classics. Perfected., Fairmont’s new global cocktail menu, is just what it sounds like, a selection of beautifully balanced and delicious cocktails created by newly appointed Fairmont Tastemakers.

“When people “meet for a drink” at one of our hotels – from The American Bar at The Savoy to The Plaza in New York – they expect the crispest gin and tonic and a truly perfect manhattan. With this new menu that is precisely what they will get – along with quality ice and bartender’s advice when appropriate,” said Jane Mackie, vice president, Fairmont Brand. “The Classics. Perfected., menu was curated by our top bartenders who were charged with helping us to discover and perfect the best old and new classics.”

“This is much bigger than a new menu,” continued Mackie. “It is about shaping and sharing Fairmont cocktail culture with our neighbors and visiting guests in over 20 countries.”

Fairmont’s bars around the world have historically been places were deals were struck and history was made, showing that cocktail culture is about more than just drinks. The bartenders who have presided over these storied bars have been shaping cocktail trends for over a century. Bringing together Fairmont’s best mixologists to collaborate and share their expertise, has unearthed a new level of quality and craftsmanship.

Selected for their individual talent and mastery of cocktail methodology, the Fairmont Tastemakers for the two-year program include – Grant Sceney from Fairmont Pacific Rim, Nader Chabaane from Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, Erik Lorincz from The Savoy, A Fairmont Managed Hotel and Tom Hogan from Fairmont Singapore.

Cocktail innovations in hotels have typically been the work of visionary bartenders working on individual specialties for guests’ sipping pleasure. This is the first time that Fairmont has hand selected top bartenders from around the world to create cocktails together. The new creations were developed in partnership with Kathy Casey at her Liquid Kitchen Food Studios in June 2015.

The menu features three sections: the most requested classics that guests know and love, revived classics to entice cocktail enthusiasts and the “neats” for those who wish to savor the richness of the program’s carefully selected spirit partners.

“We are incredibly proud of the group of partners involved in Fairmont’s new cocktail program,” said Alexandra Blum, VP, public relations and partnerships, FRHI Hotels & Resorts. “Each brand was hand selected for its outstanding quality and global appeal. We are so pleased to see that this careful curation in partnership with our hand selected Fairmont Tastemakers, has resulted in a world-class offering for both our trend setting and discerning.”

Global spirits included in the program, chosen for their quality and craftsmanship, include: Remy Martin VSOP Fine Champagne Cognac, Belvedere Vodka, Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label, The Botanist Islay Dry Gin, Bombay Sapphire, Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey, Woodford Reserve Distillers Select, Cointreau, Mount Gay Rum, Casamigos Tequila and Louis XIII.

Cocktails will be served in beautifully crafted Schott Zwiesel crystal glassware, distributed by global partner Fortessa, to further elevate this special offering.

Classics. Perfected., will be available at all Fairmont Hotels & Resorts in the Americas starting on November 23. The menu will be rolled out globally over the holiday season.