• Summer Time Steak Grills and Wine Pairing

    Oct 7 • STEAK • 44 Views

    Whether it is with family members at home or trying to impress your work colleagues, having the perfect combination of wine and a brilliant recipe for steak on the grill, is one of the best ways to make a lasting impression and memory. For most, a great stake is only available at a steakhouse, but there are actually many recipes that allow you to bring out the best of each cut at home on your grill. Choosing the perfect wine to further complement the cut you’ve selected is what turns a great steak into a memorable meal.

    The Safest: Cabernet Sauvignon


    Beefsteak already provides so much flavour, which isn’t only unique but somewhat powerful as well. Therefore, a full-bodied wine won’t disappoint if it’s combined with just about any cut of beef. However, since the wine offers a lot of flavours itself, you have the opportunity to add a touch to your steak as well.
    If you pair the meat with a Cabernet Sauvignon, add some additional flavour to the meat, which can either be a stronger spice with herbs, an interesting marinade or you can go all out with an interesting source with some pepper. With this wine, feel free to choose a hearty piece of beef with a fair amount of fat as the higher alcohol levels of the wine compliment it.

    Getting Creative: Zinfandel

    Even though a zinfandel doesn’t provide the same full-bodied features of a Cabernet Sauvignon, it still comes with a heart explosion of flavours that offers a rich ting to the pallet, especially with the bold spiciness of the grapes. This wine pairs well with just about any cut, but you’d want to choose one with a bit of fat, once again allowing the wine to compliment it with richer flavours.

    Therefore, you’d want to avoid the zinfandel when settling on a fillet as it doesn’t include any fat and the rich flavour of the wine might seem a little overpowering. Instead, choosing a T-bone, rump, rib-eye and even porterhouse would be a much better combination.

    Zinfandel is a great wine to prepare the meat as well, especially with cuts that aren’t as high quality as the prime cuts. Marinade the meat in the wine for about 2 to 4 hours before starting the grill, allowing the flavours to soak into the meat for a truly memorable steak.

    Trying the New: Malbec

    Malbec is the cheaper option of the wines mentioned above but offers a brilliant pair with just about all forms of beef. It’s dark, rich and brilliant for steaks on the grill, especially since with a cut offering some fat. However, even with fillet, it has proven to be a friendly companion that allows the natural flavours of the meat to be the star of the meal.

    With a Malbec, it’s best to choose a cut with great flavour, including rib-eye and fillet. These might be the most expensive cuts, but you’ll luckily get to save on the wine as it’s only now becoming a hit for steak lovers.

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  • Most Awesome Wine and Salad Pairings!

    Sep 24 • WINE • 49 Views

    Every new year’s resolution needs a kick-start and if yours for next year is living healthier then this could be all the motivation you need as we pair up the best salads with some of the yummiest wines. Well with the perfect pairings you might not want to wait till next year to make every day a wine and salad occasion.

    Green House Salad

    When pairing salads and wines the biggest challenge is the dressing, most dressing used in salads are vinegar-based, which makes it high in acid. The main rule is to remember acid with acid so in pairing wine that is low in acidity would not provide the best option and in this case, Albarino wine is a great option since it is high-acid and will match vinaigrette-style salad dressings.

    Nicoise Salad

    Anchovies, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, tuna, and lots of green beans are all part of this French salad best matched with a dry rose wine. The salad is made with a blend of greens while it also contains fatty tuna, therefore one of the dry rose wines to try are those produced by Languedoc.

    Caesar Salad

    A wine with a fuller body has the best chance of standing up to the creamy dressing of this amazing salad. What will empower the dressing is an oaky Chardonnay especially a lightly oaked Chardonnay from Australia or Washington.

    Waldorf Salad

    Lots of flavours blend to provide a salad to remember yet the flavour highlights include apples, grapes, a light mayonnaise dressing and walnuts that offers creamy goodness to any salad lover. The wine to pair with this wonderful salad burst of flavour is the aromatic grape Gewürztraminer with a profile of lychee, honeyed fruit and residual sugar and best to try is the Alsace.

    Crunchy Noodle Salad

    Key ingredients in the much preferred crunchy noodle salad are sesame, ginger and honey perfectly pairing with Riesling, these residual sugars complement all the tangy and sweet flavours in the salad. The best wine is that produced in Germany such as the Mosel.

    Goat Cheese Salad

    It is often said that what grows in harmony, belongs together and this is most certainly true in goat cheese salad. The crisp acidity and the zesty flavours are perfectly offered in Sauvignon Blanc and the best wines to shop for are the Pouilly-Fume and Sancerre from the Loire Valley.

    Cobb Salad

    Avocado, hard-boiled eggs, chicken and bacon are everything you imagine when you hear the word cobb salad and the best wines to pair this delicious salad with light roses and whites. It is the lighter wines you should try such as the Pinot Noir or Beaujolais from the Loire Valley.

    The great news is that if you want to live a healthy salad life then you could also have your dessert and drink it! Sugars and acids all present in fruit-salads are masterfully paired with the taste of Moscato d’Asti which well matches the acids as well as the sugars.

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  • 2018 Wine Trends

    Sep 16 • WINE • 57 Views

    As wine experts examine the trends in 2018 from around the world they include everything from Keg Wine to the best wine bars and, also, pays attention to the newfound appreciation for sherry, so should you long to expand your palette here are this year’s biggest wine trends.

    English Wines

    English Wines remains part of a growing trend, even more so with Brexit, the high quality of sparkling wines is also fully recognised in 2018. So, in this home-grown industry, the big thing is the single site still wines.

    Etna

    From the Mount Etna slopes comes an Italian wine that is seen by many as the fines in Europe. Consumers recognise the quality wine, even more, this year according to Rudd & Berry Bros., and it is indeed a year to enjoy high altitude, volcanic white wines as well as red from Nerello Cappuccio and Nerello Mascalese. A strong performance is also predicted for wines from Italy such as the fine wines enjoyed a 10% increase in sales compared to the previous year. There are also indications that traditions wines from the Burgundy and Bordeaux regions will be popular.

    Keg Wine

    One of the most exciting things is that 2018 is the year for the next wine dispensing trend, while previous trends included wine in a can and a bag in a box, this year it is all about Keg wine. Wine lovers prefer a wine serving mechanism that is easy to pour and taint free and the less wastage the happier the wine enthusiasts are.

    Brighter, Lighter Reds

    The move away full-bodied reds and over-extracted wines continue toward brighter and lighter wine styles, which includes Sangiovese and Langhe Nebbiolo from Italy, with the primary focus on red wine with fruit characters. An increase of 70% in sales comes from quality wines such as the Beaujolais Curs in France.

    The Loire Red Wines

    Some of the finest white wines in the world are produced by France’s Loire region, these include the Pouilly Fumé and Sancerre. The will be joined by the reds from the Loire, which have been patiently waiting for the spotlight for far too long and this year they are bound to be the tastiest favourites.

    Sherry

    Sherry is part of every trend it is popular every year and it will be no different in 2018, what is bound to become the sherry of choice is the Palo Cortado and the Oloroso. Both carefully aged, Almacenistas oversees the maturation of sherry over many years before it can be sold to the Bodegas. The ageing of sherry is nothing short of a artistry at work and the older and rarer sherry becomes the more their sales increase and last year already saw a 68% increase year on year.

    South Africa

    South Africa’s new wave of younger winemakers continues to make waves in the industry as people from around the world continues to search for quality and value in wine. The wines to look out for are from Mullineux, Eben, Sadie, Craven and that is naming only a few of the exciting wines produced by South Africa.

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  • Chantel Dartnall Named Best Chef in the World

    Aug 26 • INTERNATIONAL • 96 Views

    The yearly Best Chef Awards ceremony is held every year in Poland, and last year it was the South African chef that was named the world’s best. Chantel Dartnall is also the owner of a world-class restaurant in Tshwane called Mosaic.

    Chef Darnell has also won the South African Chef of the Year contest while her restaurant is often mentioned amongst the top eateries of the world. Her training took place at several Michelin restaurants in the UK, and from her experience, she creates unique menus and dishes perfect for individuals that love fine dining. The restaurant called Mosaic has earned many international food awards, which includes the Diners Club World’s 50 Best Restaurants award.

    World-Class Cuisine in South Africa


    Dartnall is one of three females’ part of the top 50 chefs in the world, the only South African in the overall Best 100 Chefs in the world and she is honoured to be recognised for her world-class cuisine. Mosaic Restaurant also has one of the most talented when it comes to its cellar, as the Cellar Master, Moses Magwaza won the 2017 Eat Out Wine Service Award.

    Shared Recipes by Chantel Dartnall

    Dartnall wants to share her passion for cuisine with the world and has placed several free recipes on the restaurant’s website. Here are just some of the dishes you could now enjoy at home:
    • Sea Mist: Langoustine Bisque and Seared Scallops
    • Pomelo Salad Served with Crab Mousse
    • Apple, Cinnamon and Ginger Tea

    Fine Dining a perfect Visual & Taste Combination

    Mosaic opened in 2006 won its first award in 2014, since the RASA Rosetta Awards it has been named as the best by many magazines and the interior reveals Darnall’s passion for Parisian Belle Epoque restaurants.

    By employing local men and women, Mosaic Restaurant is focussed on uplifting the community, training them and giving them confidence. Before being part of the Mosaic team, none of the front of house or kitchen staff had any training or work experience in the restaurant industry, and now they part of a world-class eatery.

    Situated in the Orient Boutique Hotel, visitors can look forward to food as unexpected as spectacular as a Moorish-inspired palace that allows guest to escape to a time when nothing could distract from the beauty and wonder of nature.

    One of the things visitors most appreciate of the restaurant apart from the outstanding service is the passion and design that goes into every dish. Several wine-tasting events take place yearly, and a monthly newsletter keeps all Mosaic food slaves up to date with the new items added to the menu.

    The wine cellar is stocked with the best wines from around the world as well as some exclusive bottles from South Africa’s best wine farms. Mosaic is based in the Orient Hotel, it is a hotel, unlike any other and one that offers Arabian Nights in the warm Gauteng countryside.

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  • Kazoku Ramen

    May 13 • ASIAN, EDMONTON, JAPANESE, REVIEW • 382 Views

    Ever since I had to say goodbye to the love of my life (i.e. gluten), I’ve had to make do with poor substitutes and laughable facsimiles. The gluten free landscape has become more bountiful as of late, but the realm of wheat-free ramen has been fairly disappointing. So, when I learned that Kazoku Ramen, a restaurant close to my new place of employment, offered gluten free noodles, I was desperate to give it a try. Edmonton has been raving about its ramen restaurants for the past year and I’d automatically assumed that my allergy would exclude me from indulging myself–thankfully, I was wrong.

    Kazoku is a new restaurant located in Mayfield/Meadowlark in west Edmonton. They’ve been open since October 2015 but I hadn’t heard much about them, other than from Cindy’s review on Let’s Om Nom. Of course, moving to the west end for work gave me ample reason to browse the list of restaurants in the area–thus, my first visit to Kazoku.

    The restaurant is cozy but with plenty of table space and featuring an adorable wall painting of a godzilla chewing on a piece of narutomaki. The menu is brief but well-stocked, featuring a handful of traditional Japanese appetizers (think gyoza and edamame), tempura, ramen bowls, curry, and rice bowls. The server was a little quick on the draw, asking us what we wanted less than one minute after handing us the menus, but I assume that’s because lunchtime at Kazoku brings in the hoard of regulars, each one knowing exactly what they’ll have that day. We needed a little longer to decide, finally settling on the gluten-free miso ramen with pork shoulder char siu and the Japanese char siu rice bowl. (Note: the miso ramen is the only soup that’s gluten-free. While they have gluten free noodles, the soup base for most ramen bowls includes soy. Celiacs should also note that the char siu marinade may include trace amounts of gluten, so this restaurant is much more suited to those who are gluten intolerant.) 

    Miso ramen noodle bowl

    For only $13, you get a huge bowl filled with delicious soup, noodles, delightfully salty meat, and all the fixings: a half soft-boiled egg, shredded nori, bamboo shoots, corn, toasted sesame, green onion, and narutomaki. Kazoku prides themselves on including fresh ingredients in all of their dishes, including hand-picked pork, free range chicken, and locally grown produce–and it shows. The flavours are amazing. My miso ramen, despite having a smaller portion of noodles than normal (thanks, gluten-free), was excellent. I couldn’t help but finish the bowl, even with the possible risk of me falling asleep at my desk afterwards.

    Japanese char siu rice bowl

    The restaurant does, however, close on Tuesdays–holding inconsistent weekly hours is just one of the things smaller, independent restaurants tend to do. When I showed up there on a Tuesday at lunch, it was entirely my fault for not checking the hours beforehand. That still didn’t keep me from being disappointed that I wouldn’t get an excellent bowl of ramen that day (though I have learned my lesson since then).

    In any case, if you’re in the area or feel like making the trek to the west end, I recommend you swing by Kazoku, say hello to the naruto-nibbling godzilla, and sit down to a steaming bowl of delicious ramen.

    Kazoku Ramen
    16518 100 Avenue
    Edmonton, AB T5Y 4Y2
    (780) 483-0448

    3.5/5

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  • State and Main (Jasper Avenue)

    May 5 • AMERICAN/CANADIAN, EDMONTON, FOUR GLASSES, GLUTEN FREE • 190 Views

    Due to my mad panic to finish cosplays in time for Calgary Expo, it took me longer than expected to get to this post. But here it is, at last!

    Gastropubs. So hot right now.

    There’s something about the fusion of a welcoming pub atmosphere and a stylish menu line-up that just speaks to me. Maybe it’s the fact that I enjoy great food but don’t always feel like dressing to the nines (or paying through my teeth) just to get it.

    State and Main sits somewhere between the likes of Original Joe’s and Central Social Hall. The interior is stylishly casual and friendly. The menu is the epitome of modern Canadian comfort food with a few surprising twists: steaks, wings, and pulled pork sandwiches sit amongst Korean-inspired gogi tacos, chorizo lasagna, and a Greek-esque spanako flatbread (think spinach, goat cheese, and roasted red peppers).

    Media Tasting Event

    Signature Caesar

    Pretzel Sticks

    With locations already in Windermere, Southgate, Sherwood Park, and Spruce Grove, State and Main recently took their brand to central Edmonton with a new restaurant on Jasper Avenue and 100 Street. At the media tasting event on April 12th, food writers, bloggers, and local media were treated to an extensive menu to showcase the restaurant’s favourites, along with brief speeches from State and Main staff to introduce newcomers to the brand.

    Before I even get to the food, my primary impression from my very first experience at a State and Main was the level of attention and service we received. Not only were drinks ordered and dropped off efficiently, the staff were also extremely accommodating towards anyone with a food allergy or intolerance. I’ve been to several media events that provided terrible service, so the professionalism of State and Main with regards to this matter was something I truly appreciated.

    Mama’s Meatballs

    Chicken Wings

    Chicken Gyoza

    Dragon Boat Lettuce Wraps

    As for the tasting menu–that gigantic tasting menu–it’s a bit of an understatement to say that we were given a well-rounded look into the types of food the restaurant has on offer. I’d need to throw the term “smorgasbord” in there for that statement to be more accurate. In order to keep this post from getting out-of-hand in length, here are some brief notes on the courses I tried from the tasting menu:

    Food

    • Chicken Wings: How on earth can you go wrong with wings? Answer: you can’t. State and Main has great wings AND they have bleu cheese dip, so I’m sold.
    • Mama’s Meatballs: These were delightful. I couldn’t eat the garlic bread (sigh), but the meatballs themselves were extremely tasty. Garlic tomato and basil sauce, melted mozzarella, and parmesan equals a great time had by all.
    • Thai Salad: I’ve tried many ‘Thai salads’ in my time and haven’t been overly impressed with any of them. This one is probably the best one I’ve ever had because the flavours work so perfectly together. Romaine and rice noodles, cilantro peanut vinaigrette, citrus marinated grilled chicken, mandarin oranges, red onions, pea shoots, and cashews all combine to make a salad that’s equal parts sweet, tart, and savoury. It’s lovely.
    • The Empire State: All I’ll say about this delectable 10 oz. New York cut is that State and Main knows their way around a damn good steak.
    • Gogi Tacos: I had the gluten-free version of these. The shredded pork was delicious! A nice little Korean-inspired treat.
    • (Also on the menu: Dragon Boat Lettuce Wraps, Pretzel Sticks, Chicken Gyoza, Alberta Bison Burger, Jalapeno Mac and Cheese, Ice Cream Sandwich): Sadly, I couldn’t try any of these, but the pretzel sticks were a fan favourite at the table. Everyone was raving about the red ale mustard sauce.)

    Jalapeno Mac and Cheese

    Gluten-free Gogi Tacos

    The Empire State

    Cocktails

    • Signature Caesar: There’s really no excuse for serving up bad caesars in this day and age. Thankfully, State and Main’s Signature Caesar is excellent. I may have had several.
    • State Mint: The gin drew me in but while this drink was tasty, it was a little too sweet for my liking. Probably better for someone who’s just easing into gin and needs a powerful mixer.

    Thai Salad

    Alberta Bison Burger

    Gogi Tacos

    All in all, I had a great time at State and Main. The food was good, the service was top notch, and the company was excellent. Price-wise, everything is mid-range and reasonable, with entrees generally sitting between the $15-25 mark. AND there’s a fairly extensive gluten-free menu, which is great. They’re also open at 7:00 a.m. on weekdays, meaning that downtown employees can stop in for breakfast before starting their workday! The only issue with this restaurant, as with many others downtown, is parking. There is, however, a large Impark lot behind the building that’s probably not too expensive if you get there after 6pm.

    State and Main
    10065 Jasper Avenue
    Edmonton, AB
    (780) 990-0907

    4/5

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  • Narayanni’s

    Apr 8 • BUFFET, EDMONTON, FIVE GLASSES, FOUR GLASSES, GLUTEN FREE, INDIAN, REVIEW, SOUTH AFRICAN, VEGAN, WINE • 308 Views

    I can’t say I had ever tried South African food until last night, which, as I quickly discovered, has been a deplorable loss on my part. I’ve been completely missing out.

    Narayanni’s, a Whyte Avenue staple since 2010, serves up some of the finest curry I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. While the food is primarily Indian cuisine (as a result of immigration in the late 19th/early 20th centuries), it comes with a delightful South African twist: fewer dairy-based items, roti instead of naan bread, and a subtle European spin on items like the braised kale and cabbage. It’s the kind of cuisine that will leave you feeling content and full–warm and fuzzy–without weighing down your stomach with starches.

    The restaurant itself is really hard to miss, once you know where you’re going. Just head one block south of Whyte at 101 Street and you’ll find yourself in front of a bright red door and panel, with a huge sign right above it. Inside, Narayanni’s is homey and comforting, with relaxed ambient lighting and the friendly murmur of other guests filling the spacious room. The buffet stands at the centre, with dishes lined in a circle around a barista used to make their signature hot chai drinks.

    They have a neat selection of South African wines by the bottle, giving diners the authentic cuisine experience. We were recommended a bottle of the Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon (2010) by daughter and Front of House manager Youmashni Naidoo; to our delight, it was amazing. Similar to a full bodied malbec but with less powerful tannins, this wine paired beautifully with the spicy curries on the menu. The only danger lies in the wine’s drinkability–we had polished off the bottle before we knew it.

    The food–oh, the food–was delightful. It’s strange to enjoy a meal that’s both hearty and filling and yet not feel sluggish afterwards. The majority of Narayanni’s menu is dairy free, many items are gluten free, and vegan options are abundant (they even offer a vegan buffet on Tuesday nights). My favourites were the chicken curry (moderately spicy), the grilled masala chicken (tender and flavourful), and the braised kale and cabbage (surprisingly spicy).

    While Narayanni’s has only opened for dinner in the past, Old Strathcona residents and employees can now rejoice in the fact that the restaurant will be open for lunch Tuesday to Friday, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The lunch buffet features four gourmet South African Indian courses: home-cooked soup, salad, chicken curry (local, free-range, hormone/antibiotic-free), and three vegan entrées for only $12 a person. If I worked anywhere near Narayanni’s, I’d make this lunch buffet a weekly routine. For the quality of food you’re getting at that price, you’ve really got no excuse.

    One of the things that makes Narayanni’s such a genuinely friendly restaurant is that it’s completely family owned and run. The Naidoo family, also the proprietors of Whyte’s Block 1912, are the brains behind Narayanni’s South African Indian cuisine. In one of my tweets during the visit, I likened the restaurant’s chicken curry to my own mother’s excellent curry–unsurprising, really, since the curry at Narayanni’s was cooked by the mother of the Naidoo family and co-founder of the restaurant, Selva Naidoo. We also finished off the meal with some cinnamon-infused rice pudding, prepared by Narayanni’s dessert master and father, Daya Naidoo, as well as cups of regular chai and pistachio chai.

    Along with their new lunch buffet ($12), vegan nights on Tuesdays ($15), and lamb items in the buffet on Saturdays ($25), Narayanni’s is currently also holding a spring special on Wednesday nights, offering the dinner buffet at $15 a person, rather than $20. To be honest, even $20 a person for an all-you-can-eat buffet of this quality is extremely reasonably-priced. You’ll be hard pressed to find the same quality of food at a better price at any other Indian restaurant in the city. At $15 a person, it’s a bargain!

    My experience at Narayanni’s was excellent and beyond expectations. The friendly, welcoming atmosphere, the unbelievable food, the clear passion each member of the family has for the business they’ve created–every aspect of this restaurant appealed to me. They’ve made it very easy for me to give a rave review because, quite simply, Narayanni’s is wonderful. And I cannot wait to go back.

    Narayanni’s
    10131 81 Avenue
    Edmonton, AB
    (780) 756-7112

    5/5

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  • PAMPA’S SECOND ANNUAL BACON FEAST

    Apr 7 • BRAZILIAN, EDMONTON, EVENT, GLUTEN FREE, STEAKHOUSE • 254 Views

    Edmonton, for some reason, has become bacon crazy in the last couple of years.

    Did I just say, “for some reason”? The obvious reason: bacon is THAT delicious. What with Baconfest, an influx of bacon-inspired cocktails (think Caesars), and more and more restaurants offering items like pork belly and pulled pork on the menu, food options throughout our city can get a little pig-heavy. Even Sailin’ On has a vegan BLT–it’s coconut, but you get the idea.

    Pampa, my beloved Pampa, has joined the bacon ranks with their annual Bacon Feast event. The restaurant, which normally serves up cuts of meat rodizio-style (i.e. rotisserie that’s carved tableside), is offering a bacon-inspired special for the month of April. Alongside their usual dinner service, guests can add on the Bacon Feast menu for $14.95, which includes bacon-wrapped boneless veal leg, marinated crispy pork belly (my favourite), and a chocolate petite gateau for dessert (warm chocolate cake filled with bacon-infused caramel sauce and topped with vanilla-bean ice cream and caramelized bacon bits). Bacon Caesars are also on special for $10, each one featuring Bakon Vodka and a slice of bacon–although be sure to eat that bacon strip immediately before it gets soggy.

    This is Bacon Feast’s second year and, from my experience, offers a nice variant to the traditional Pampa dining experience. The inclusion of dessert is a huge selling point–even though I couldn’t eat it because of the gluten, I had a nibble at the bacon bits and ice cream, and everyone else at the table seemed to devour their cakes with reckless abandon. Bacon Feast is also a good reason to go out and try Pampa’s pork belly, which I raved about in my review of their brunch. Like I said, it’s not for those who are afraid of fat on their meat (again, I’m surprised those people exist).

    My dinner plate. Note: the roasted whole garlic is AMAZING.

    The bacon-wrapped veal leg was tender and cooked to medium–this was my first time trying veal, so it was a little unusual for me, but it was filled with flavour. And, of course, anything wrapped in bacon is a good thing. Other than the Bacon Feast offerings, there were the standard ten cuts of meat for Pampa’s dinner service: signature rump steak, top sirloin, bottom sirloin, striploin (which we unfortunately didn’t get to try), pork sausage, parmesan pork loin, bacon-wrapped chicken thighs, marinated Frenched chicken legs, marinated leg of lamb, and garlic rump steak. I go to Pampa for the beef cuts because I’m a huge fan of how they’re cooked: seasoned with rock salt and fired over a charcoal grill. The rump steak will always be my favourite–I think I had three servings of it during this dinner.

    Cold salad bar

    Marinated pork belly (image from brunch)

    There’s also Pampa’s endless cold salad bar which, as always, is great…but be careful not to fill up on pasta salad. You’re better off saving that room for more meat!

    Image courtesy of Pampa

    Along with Bacon Feast, there are other exciting new things happening at Pampa. The restaurant is starting to offer spring and summer Brazilian cooking classes, which is a really neat idea for a date night or friend date. They’ll teach you to prepare and grill Brazilian-style BBQ using hardwood charcoal, how to make meat-stuffed bread, and how to cook Brazil’s national dish, the Feijoada–a stew of black beans with beef and pork. The Churrasco Master cooking class includes three hours of demonstration and hands-on instruction, lunch, a Pampa apron, a recipe booklet, and a tropical guava cheesecake for dessert. I believe they’ll also be teaching people how to make the delicious (and gluten-free) cheese bread that Pampa serves complimentary with every meal!

    Cooking classes take place from April to July and only eight students are permitted per class. Cost is $119 per person, with GST included. Find more information here or register for a class by calling (780) 756-7030.

    If you’d rather have someone else do your Brazilian cooking for you, head to Pampa and check out Bacon Feast before the end of April! Find more information on the event here or book a table online here.

    Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse
    9929 109 St
    Edmonton, AB
    (780) 756-7030

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  • Urban China

    Apr 5 • ASIAN, CHINESE, DIM SUM, EDMONTON, REVIEW • 268 Views

    Growing up (half) Chinese, I had my fair share of exposure to dim sum over the years. It was always a weekend brunch activity, where myself and my parents, or sometimes a huge portion of my Lee family clan, would head to our favourite dim sum restaurant and satisfy our cravings for bite-sized shrimp and pork dumplings. Siu mai was life.

    And yet, never in my life did I have dim sum for dinner until February of this year. In a world where you can get a Tim Horton’s double double at any hour of the day, or go to the gym at 2:00 a.m., it can come as no surprise that dim sum, traditionally served for brunch, is now served all day at a number of restaurants. I’ve never even considered eating it past the early afternoon, but when my friend Dana suggested we grab dim sum for dinner, I was intrigued.

    Enter Urban China. I’ve heard great things about their dim sum but have never managed to make it out on the weekend. An evening meal was the perfect time to try out their dumplings.

    The restaurant is well taken care of, with white tablecloths, plenty of traditional decorations, and a nice, relaxing atmosphere. It’s a little classier than many of its Chinatown competitors and the price point reflects that–it’s a few dollars more per dish than restaurants like All Happy and Garden Bakery, but the food is made fresh and the service is much more attentive. While I do love the occasional greasy spoon, Urban China is about midway between the bustle and bluntness of All Happy Family Restaurant and higher-end Asian restaurants like East. It honestly just depends on your mood.

    And we happened to be in the mood for dinnertime dim sum. Do you know why there are no pictures of siu mai in this post? Because we ate them much too quickly for me to even grab a photo. They’re delicious. Firm, non-greasy, and tasty–a dumpling to write home about. The har gow (which, despite having gluten, never seem to affect me) were little pieces of heaven, wrapped firmly in dough that held together steadily when picked up by chopsticks. The sticky rice was delicious, but could have contained a little more meat for my liking.

    One thing about going for dim sum in the evening is that, without the constant train of carts, you select only the items that you know you like. We didn’t waste space on trying out something new; instead, we indulged in multiple orders of our favourites (two pieces of siu mai is never enough for one person).

    Overall, I was impressed with the food and the service at Urban China. It’s a little pricier than my usual dim sum haunts, but I’d rather pay a few dollars more for fresh, non-greasy siu mai, since the alternative can be extremely unappetizing (i.e. pre-closure Mirama). I probably wouldn’t go there if I was starving and looking to down a million pieces of har gow, though–those beautiful little dumplings just go down way too easily.

    Urban China
    10604 101 St NW
    Edmonton, AB T5H 2S1
    (780) 758-1888

    3.5/5

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  • Brunch at Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse

    Mar 18 • AMERICAN/CANADIAN, BRAZILIAN, BRUNCH, BUFFET, EDMONTON, FIVE GLASSES, FOUR GLASSES, GLUTEN FREE, REVIEW, STEAK, STEAKHOUSE • 247 Views

    If I’m going to be honest with myself, whenever people ask me about my favourite restaurant in Edmonton (which they do a lot, since it comes with the food blogger territory), I always say Pampa. I’m not sure if it’s due to my weakness for savoury red meat or my fondness for dining experiences that allow me to eat myself into a coma. Either way, Pampa is always top of mind when recommending restaurants to my carnivorous friends.

    I recently had the pleasure of trying Sunday brunch at Pampa for the very first time. We had gone to the restaurant for the Downtown Dining Week special, which unfortunately wasn’t offered on Sundays, but we ended up staying for brunch instead (which offered a greater meat selection, anyway).

    All about that rump

    Salad bar offerings

    A brunch dining experience at Pampa is almost identical to a dinner service, although at a more reasonable price–$29.95 per person, rather than the usual $49.95 for the full dinner. Brunch runs from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. every Sunday, with the regular all-you-can-eat salad bar and five cuts of meat: signature rump steak, top sirloin, chicken drumsticks, pork belly, and pork sausage.

    For those of you who have never tasted the delights of Pampa, meal service is run in a Rodizio style–you help yourself to the cold salad bar, sit back down at your table, flip your little card over to green, and wait as gauchos with sizzling meat on rotisserie sticks swing by and offer you a variety of options. They slice the meat from the rotisserie for you right at the table, never giving too much (so that you have room to try everything), but always being generous if you favour a particular cut. It’s indulgent and delightfully salty, thanks to the beautiful rock salt they use to season their meats.

    Salad bar offerings

    A nice selection of cheese and greens

    Salad bar offerings

    A great addition to the meat roster was the pork belly. Not for those who don’t like fat on their meat (if those people actually exist), the pork belly was tender, juicy, and covered with a small portion of delicious crackling, adding a nice crunch to the overall texture. These pieces weren’t served on a rotisserie stick but rather on a plate and with a slice of lime.

    My favourite, as always, was the rump steak. Ever since they took ribeye off the menu–which was based very much, I’m sure, on the high cost of that cut–rump steak has been my welcome alternative. While the top sirloin is still tasty, it has a tendency to run a bit dry, whereas the rump steak is consistently juicy and flavourful.

    Pork belly and lime

    Try the ceviche–trust me

    Local oils and balsamics from Evoolution

    The salad bar offerings are not to be sneezed at, either. My favourites include the whole roasted garlic, sliced pineapple and capicola, a great selection of olives and imported/domestic cheese, and the ceviche (fish marinated in citrus juices). Of course, all of these delicacies are nothing without the accompaniment of a big glass of red wine–thankfully, wine is also 10% off on Sundays and sangria and mimosas are only $7 a glass.

    As always, the service was top notch. I’ve never had bad (or even neutral) service at Pampa–each server comes to your table with a wealth of menu and drink knowledge and each Rodizio gaucho is supremely accommodating with their meat. If you’re looking for a particular cut and simply mention it to them, they’ll send it over as soon as possible. It’s perfect–service at Pampa is a well-oiled machine. And, when you’re filled to the brim with meat, you flip over your card to the red side and your server will bring by a visual demo tray of their many desserts (all of which are fantastic, by the way).

    Cheesy goodness

    If you’re new to the Rodizio experience and aren’t sure if you’ll enjoy it, I strongly recommend trying Pampa for lunch or Sunday brunch so that you get a taste of the experience without paying the full dinner price. The cost of the full dinner is a fairly significant deterrent for many people, so trying the restaurant for lunch or brunch is a good way to dine at Pampa without making the full cost commitment. There’s a parking lot underground that you can reach from the back alley and which offers free parking for restaurant guests (but I believe this is only on weekdays and after 6pm). Personally, I try to get to Pampa at least once every few months for my Rodizio fix. I simply can’t get enough of that rump.

    Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse
    9929 109 St
    Edmonton, AB
    780-756-7030
    Make reservations online

    5/5

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