Category: Fine Dining

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!

 

Sabor’s Sweetheart Supper

Sabor’s Sweetheart Supper

Sabor is a marvel that lives right here in Edmonton;  “classy with a family feel”.   It is listed as one of the top 100 restaurants in Canada for the “Open Table” reservation app.

Located near the Boardwalk in downtown Edmonton, Sabor is run by Chef Lino and his childhood friend Christian.  Chef Lino is very passionate about what he does, and influenced by growing up in Portugal.  Christian is the showboat of this partnership, and can sometimes be seen singing for the guests in the restaurant.  It is a treat, he has a lovely voice!

The food at Sabor “features the flavours of Iberian coastal cuisine using sustainable seafood—served alongside the passion and energy of live music with a Latin flare”.

The vibe can be casual or dressy.  There are always both when we go.

The live music is on Wednesday thru Saturday.  There is a grand piano or a musician of some sort to serenade you and your sweetheart during dinner.  Pro tip:  bring cash to tip the musicians.

You don’t need to be a seafood lover to visit Sabor, but it certainly helps!  Iberian coastal cuisine features a lot of seafood.  What is different about Sabor though, is that they use Oceanwise sustainable seafood.  This means that they are using seafood that is in season and not at risk of being extinct.  It was actually quite interesting to learn about, and I now ask before I order at other restaurants.

There are daily lunch specials listed on the website.  They are very good about keeping everything updated.  I would highly recommend phoning ahead and finding out what the “Family Style” dinner is that night.  It is a daily 3 course menu which is awesome to make into a date night with your sweetheart.  This is what my husband and I did for our last anniversary and it was awesome!  The price-tag is $55 per person, but worth every penny and you are not walking away hungry!

The “Family Style” meal is served exactly like you would have it at home.  The food comes out on a serving plate and you help yourself.  It really does make it feel like a more intimate meal than having it come out plated.  I love this about Sabor.

The food is amazing!  I am from the West Coast, so I am used to fresh seafood.   Sabor does not disappoint. The seafood is fresh and cooked to perfection.  It can be difficult to cook scallops, calamari and prawns.  A lot of restaurants tend to overcook and make them rubbery, which turns a lot of people off those particular items.  Chef Lino and his team only turn out perfection.  The Piri Piri Prawns and the Lobster Risotto were favourites at our table.

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The beverage list is equally amazing.  The “Chocolan” house wines are really good to this “not wine” palate.  Your servers are all very knowledgeable about what pairs well with what you are eating, so if you don’t know, just ask and they will give you some great options.

Let’s take a moment and talk about the service.  Our server the last time we went was named Darren,  he was amazing.  When he found out it was our anniversary, he went above and beyond.  He brought out a Triple Chocolate Slab on the house complete with sparklers, AND he took photos of us on our phones.  All of the servers at Sabor are attentive, taking care of every little detail and making you feel at home.

Sabor is on my “Special Occasion” favourites list.  If you have a special someone and you want to surprise them with a romantic date night, this is the place!

For more information, please give the website a look: http://www.sabor.ca

All of the menus and daily specials are online.

 

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!

 

Privada Welcomes Back Chef Tony Krause

Privada Welcomes Back Chef Tony Krause

I have had the distinct pleasure of being able to sample Chef Tony Krause’s food several times now.  I must say, I am a fan.

Chef Tony was at Privada in St. Albert.  He went on some adventures to further his culinary skills, including some foraging in BC.  He came back to Edmonton to open his own restaurant, “The Salt Room”, which unfortunately did not come to fruition as Mother’s Market ended up closing due to unforeseen circumstances with the building.  That didn’t stop Chef Tony!

Chef went back to Privada and met with the owners, and is now back at Privada with a new menu!

Privada has always been focused on in-house charcuterie.  Chef Tony has an incredible talent of pairing flavors to make the ultimate taste experience.  Privada also focuses on locally produced food, and as much as possible is made in house.  You will see some of the preserves displayed on the shelves and charcuterie curing in plain view. Chef Tony also adds foraged food to the repertoire with things like Untamed Feast wild mushrooms.

Kaylen was lovely enough to invite me to sample the tasting menu at Privada.  I had just been a few weeks previously for a special pop up dinner for my second wedding anniversary, which we enjoyed every second of!  I was excited to see what would be on the new menu with Chef Tony at the helm.  Privada and Chef Tony never disappoint!

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The tasting menu is a 5 course affair that will cost you $60.  It is only available Wednesday and Thursday.  Make time for a date night, I highly recommend it!  I ended up switching tables in the middle of my dinner to join some other friends and unfortunately I missed out on a course which was Corn Succotash Pasta.

What I was able to sample was obviously made with passion.  Each dish attractively plated; the pork fritter was served on a heated rock that Chef foraged from a river himself.  How cool is that?

Scallops are a hard dish to impress this BC girl with, but Privada did not disappoint.  They were cooked perfectly and the shaved truffle was delightful.  Chef Tony has worked with Oceanwise so he is aware of seafood sustainability which was also nice to hear.

Kaylen and Kaylan are wonderful hosts.  If you have ever wanted to learn more about wine, this is the place to go.  Kaylan was kind enough to show off the Coravin Argon system which basically lets you sample the wine from the bottle without actually opening it.  Pretty neat stuff!  Privada will be able to provide you with a glass of wine versus the entire bottle which is great in the books of this light weight drinker.

 
Privada Wine and Tapas Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
 

Mac’n at the Mac – Hotel Macdonald #YEGfoodblogs Cookoff

Mac’n at the Mac – Hotel Macdonald #YEGfoodblogs Cookoff

When I received the invitation to attend the Food Bloggers Cook-off, I was excited and intimidated at the same time.  Excited for the opportunity to spend time with Chef Jost and intimidated by his prestigious reputation.  Chef has been with the Fairmont group of hotels for over 15 years and trained in Strasbourg, France.  His cuisine is phenomenal.

The Mac sent out a tweet with a copy of this picture attached:

Fairmont Hotel Macdonald Foodbloggers Cook-off

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Stages Kitchen – Big Business Supporting Local

Stages Kitchen – Big Business Supporting Local

Recently, a group of local bloggers and media were invited to a tasting event put on by the brand new “Stages Kitchen and Bar” which is being run by the Silver Birch Hotels Management Group.  This is the former “Mayfield Hotel”.   The Mayfield Dinner Theatre has been an Edmonton staple since 1975 and thankfully will remain the “Mayfield Dinner Theatre”.  Stages of course was named and themed to be a partner to the already established dinner theatre.

Silver Birch has done a BEAUTIFUL job of renovating the aging building.  They tried to use natural light wherever possible and modern conveniences are everywhere.

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Fairmont Hotel Macdonald – The New Festive Menu

Fairmont Hotel Macdonald – The New Festive Menu

The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald has been an Edmonton landmark since 1915.  Lovingly referred to as “The Mac”, the Hotel Macdonald has been a statement of luxury and a host to royalty, political leaders and entertainers alike.  The Mac is rich in history and one of the very few places in Edmonton to have a “High Tea” experience.

I was delighted to hear that The Mac has brought Edmonton’s very first canine ambassador – “Smudge”.  Smudge was in training to be a guide dog for the blind, but was deemed to be too anxious and distracted to continue in the program.  Smudge then started her hospitality career.  She has been a canine ambassador for the Algonquin in New Brunswick and the St. Andrews in Scotland.  When I was invited to the “Mac Festive” event, I was really looking forward to meeting Smudge!

Mission Accomplished:

Canine Ambassador, Smudge

Smudge was warm and welcoming with a wagging tail for all!

The staff at The Mac is just as warm and welcoming as Smudge.  You are always made to feel at home when you visit The Mac.  Our event was held in the Confederation Lounge with live music and a crackling fireplace. There was a lovely variety of refreshments offered, but the Pomegranate Poinsettia was so pretty to look at that I couldn’t resist.

Pomegranate Poinsettia

This was made for me by the bartender and she described all of the ingredients that went into it. Pomegranate juice, vodka and a splash of sparkling white wine. This was garnished with cranberries, a slice of lime and fresh mint. It was very festive and refreshing.

Chef Serge Jost was at the Mac Festive event to greet all of the participants and offer them a very tasty lobster bisque with cognac creme .  He expressed that he liked to meet all of the media at these events.  It was nice to be able to chat with Chef Jost, it gave the experience a more personal touch.  He has been with The Mac since the end of August.  Welcome to Edmonton Chef Jost, it was lovely to meet you!

I was lucky enough to have my two wonderful dining companions; Linda and Teresa.  We are most familiar in the Twitterverse and it is always a pleasure to spend time with them.  My first tasting plate was the Foie Gras Torchon.

Foie Gras Torchon
Beautiful presentation!  This was a great mixture of textures and flavours.  The Foie Gras had a silky mouth feel and was my favourite from the evening.

Next up was the Crab Cake Slider.  This was served with a miso, fennel slaw and sriracha ketchup.

Crab Cake Slider

The crab was tender and the coating crispy.  The sriracha ketchup gave it a slight kick.

Enochi Mushroom

Pictured above is Enochi served with spiced squash puree and crispy sage.  Again, a lovely marriage of textures and flavours.

Steelhead Trout

Above is the house-cured Steelhead Trout served on a Quinoa Bellini.   I am a huge salmon fan.  This was a nice change in flavour.

Venison Carpaccio

I was lucky growing up to be very acquainted with the flavours of wild meat.  However, I did not learn how to cook it properly until well into adulthood.  Besides the beautiful presentation, the meat was moist and flavourful.

Dessert Platter

And to finish the evening off, a selection of desserts.  Here we have from left to right the Cherry Shortbread, the Ice Wine Gelee and Candy Cane Fudge.  My favourite was the Ice Wine Gelee.

Egg Nog Creme Brulee

Crème Brulee and Panna Cotta are two quick ways to my heart. The Crème Brulee above was Eggnog served with a gingerbread madeleine.  This dessert was absolutely breathtaking!  Perfect texture and the eggnog flavour married to the gingerbread madeleine – a marriage made in heaven!

If you would like to experience a truly wonderful culinary experience with your family or your loved ones, the Hotel Macdonald is always a sure bet!  The service is top notch and always welcoming.  The environment is comfortable and luxurious.  Chef Jost and his team are creative and try to locally source ingredients wherever possible.  His French influence adds delicious twists to the food that is presented on all of the menus.

The Mac has many different festive holiday options available.  Please visit their website for more information.

Many thanks to The Mac and their team for another wonderful tasting experience!

Harvest Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato