• 97 Hot Pot (Lunch)

    Jan 6 • ASIAN, CHINESE, EDMONTON, FOUR GLASSES, HOT POT, REVIEW • 128 Views

    Hot pot. I can never get enough–especially once the cold weather hits (although I’ve never been one to turn down a summer trip to Chili Hot Pot). I usually don’t branch away from my favourites but, when I heard that 97 Hot Pot offered a pared down version of hot pot for lunch, I knew I had to try it out.

    One of the most glorious and gluttonous things about hot pot is that generally, you eat your fill. Each hot pot restaurant charges a set price (usually $25-$30) and you indulge in a hedonistic all-you-can-eat extravaganza. Lunch, on the other hand, doesn’t quite give you the food baby you’ve come to expect from a hot pot experience…and that’s probably a good thing.

    At 97 Hot Pot, $12.95 gets you your choice of broth, five items from their menu of entrees, and a bowl of mixed vegetables. Definitely not all-you-can-eat, but not exactly Weight Watchers, either.

    Sauces

    My go-to soup (satay) wasn’t on the menu, so I chose the Szechuan spicy chicken, which was delicious and had the perfect amount of spice–I still like to be able to feel my tongue afterwards. For entrees, I went with the sliced sirloin beef, sliced lamb, winter melon slices, Japanese crab sticks (some of these aren’t on the full menu but they’re on the checklist you’re given), and fish balls. The mixed vegetable bowl came with broccoli, a portion of corn on the cob, squash, sui choy, bok choy, and a handful of enoki mushrooms. And, since going back, I’ve tried the handmade fish mash, which is also very good, although I’d prefer a shrimp mash if it was an option.

    Szechuan spicy chicken soup

    Overall? I was really impressed. You get a significant amount of food for half the price of regular hot pot and it’ll leave you feeling full and satisfied, but not uncomfortably stuffed, which is perfect if you have to go back to work afterwards (as in my case). The food items aren’t as fresh as Chili Hot Pot, but everything was still extremely tasty and the service was lightning fast. But seriously, how can you go wrong for only $13?

    Sliced sirloin beef and sliced lamb

    Fish balls and Japanese crab sticks

    I’ve been back since and will be going again next week, so I’d say 97 Hot Pot is onto something smart by offering a lunch version. Asian Express Hot Pot is currently also offering lunch, but I haven’t seen anything yet from Urban Shabu or Chili Hot Pot (though the latter might be a little too out of the way for a lunchtime excursion). In any case, I’d recommend this restaurant if you want a quick, tasty hot pot lunch but would defer you to Chili Hot Pot if you want to invest more time in an evening hot pot experience.

    97 Hot Pot
    10602 92 Street
    Edmonton, AB
    (587) 521-1888

    4/5

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  • 2015 Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival

    Nov 19 • AMERICAN/CANADIAN, EDMONTON, EVENT, WINE • 147 Views

    This year was not my first time attending the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival, nor will it be my last. With more than 130 wineries, more than 180 breweries and distilleries, and 31 restaurants and food vendors in attendance, this year’s festival took indulgence to a whole new level.

    Held again at the Shaw Conference Centre on November 6th and 7th, the festival brought together wines, beers, and spirits from across the globe, offering them alongside food samples from some of Edmonton’s most popular restaurants. The entire main hall was filled with booths doling out samples of anything from Chinese vodka to chips and salsa.

    As per usual, the RMWFF operated on a tickets-per-sample basis. Unlike Winefest, which has an all-inclusive ticket price, the RMWFF allows guests to purchase sample tickets at fifty cents a piece so that they can control how much they spend. Drink samples ranged upwards from 3 tickets, with the most expensive sample belonging to the festival’s pièce de résistance: the Ledaig 42 Year Old Scotch–worth more than $7,000. A 1/2 oz sample of this treat went for 240 drink tickets. That’s $120 for half of a regular shot. For what it’s worth, some friends of mine were able to sample this scotch and I had to listen jealously while they told me it was the greatest thing they’ve ever tasted…and they don’t even like scotch on a normal day.

    Going on the Saturday evening session of the RMWFF can be somewhat trying because it’s one of the busiest times of the festival, but we never felt like we waited too long for a sample. If a line-up at a booth was too long, there were plenty of others within a stone’s throw away to fill the gap. Here were some of my food and drink highlights from the show:

    Sloppy Hoggs Roed Hus – Sweet Sticky Ribs. Imagine rib ends rubbed and smoked, tossed in their signature sticky sauce, and infused with Original 16 Copper Ale. I mention these first because they were, in fact, phenomenal. “Impressed” doesn’t even BEGIN to describe how much I liked these.

    Masi – Campofiorin (Italy). A favourite of mine. Ruby red colour, dry, and medium-to full-bodied.

    Canadian Club – Chairman’s Select Maple. Smoky, full-bodied, and delightfully sweet, this is definitely one for sipping and not for mixing. For those who don’t generally drink whiskey, I feel like this would be a good segway into a whiskey education.

    Three Amigos Authentic Mexican Restaurant – Tequila Lime Chicken Tacos. There are a number of great Mexican restaurants in Edmonton, so it’s saying something when a particular taco stands out above the rest. These had a surprising amount of heat, which I appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed.

    Chayee Bourras – Reserva (Argentina). A lovely red wine. Tasting notes: a rich and full-bodied wine with dramatic aromas of black cherry, vanilla, spice and coffee.

    Central Social Hall – Albacore Tuna Tataki and Won Tons. These are an ongoing favourite of mine, which I eat without the won tons (gluten intolerance, and all). Light, delicious, and beautiful when paired with both whites and reds. Yum.

    Okanagan Premium Cider – Dry Pear. I’m a huge fan of Okanagan cider and pear ciders in general. This was refreshing without being too sweet. Much better than Palm Bay, in my opinion.

    With delicious food and more drinks than you have time to sample, you can’t go wrong. Always a pleasure, Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Fest. Always a pleasure.

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  • The Parlour Italian Kitchen & Bar

    Nov 6 • CHARCUTERIE, EDMONTON, FOUR GLASSES, GLUTEN FREE, PIZZA • 59 Views

    I have a particularly bad habit of neglecting to review restaurants that I regularly frequent. Which is silly, of course—if I’m eating there all the time, then there must be a reason why I keep coming back.

    Parlour, by Century Hospitality Group, is one such restaurant and hopefully they’ll forgive me this oversight.

    I’ve been regularly dining at Parlour for a year and a half, partly because they’re the best lunch option within walking distance of my office, and partly because their pizza always keeps me coming back for more.

    Situated in the midst of downtown between MacEwan University and construction-riddled Norquest College, Parlour offers a modern take on classic Italian cuisine. As they say on their website, “The Parlour is where modern meets tradition, where Italian dining meets Century Hospitality.” The restaurant interior is stylish and comfortable, with two levels for diners to choose between: a brightly lit, window-heavy downstairs portion that revolves around the central bar, or the more intimate, quiet atmosphere of upstairs.

    I’ve tried their regular pizzas, which are made in the Neapolitan style from Organic 00 pizza flour that’s shipped over from Italy—they’re delicious. And I’ve tried their gluten-free pizzas, which had a bit of a rocky (i.e. salty) start when the restaurant first opened but which have since blossomed into a great and tasty alternative to wheat-based dough.

    The crust is important, as purists will tell you, but I’m very much a toppings kind of gal. Parlour uses high quality ingredients for each of their pizzas, including prosciutto, braised beef short rib, and shaved truffles. The Sonny Boy is a lunchtime favourite, with soppressata salami, fior di latte, mushrooms, tomato sauce, and fresh thyme, as is the Hawaii 5-0, with farm fresh Canadian back bacon, fresh pineapple, tomato sauce, and provolone.

    If you’re going for the pizza (which I strongly recommend you do), you have to try one of their Dippers. My favourites are the truffle dip and the black garlic aioli. They’re stunningly rich but go perfectly with a piece of dry pizza crust.

    Gluten-free Create Your Own pizza

    Gluten-free Hawaii 5-0 and Create Your Own

    If you’re just in the mood for cocktails and appetizers, you can’t go wrong with the antipasto board. The smaller size is enough for up to four people and is great when paired with one of their wines on tap.

    I’m very impressed by the way Parlour is willing to accommodate alternative diets, such as gluten intolerance. During my last visit, Chef Tony Le, Executive Chef for Century Hospitality Group, brought us complimentary plates of the flourless chocolate torta dessert, which was served with berry coulis, blueberries, and a raspberry sorbet. I was full…but I still made room for this delicious treat.

    Flourless chocolate torta

    Overall, I’m a huge fan of Parlour and I’ve no doubt that I’ll be back. Next week, probably. And again next month. Man, I love working downtown.

    The Parlour Italian Kitchen & Bar
    10334 Capital Boulevard
    Edmonton, AB T5J 1L9
    (780) 990-0404

    4/5

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  • Giveaway: Tickets to the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival

    Oct 20 • EDMONTON, EVENT, WINE • 37 Views

    It’s one of Edmonton’s biggest foodie events of the year–filled with tasty nibbles and more booze than you have time to taste–and, this year, it will be even bigger.

    Here at Wine + Dine, we’re giving away two tickets to the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival Saturday afternoon session (12-4pm) on Saturday, November 7th!

    Simply enter by retweeting the following tweet BY MIDNIGHT ON OCTOBER 31, 2015:

    You can learn more about the event, which vendors will be present, and what breweries and wineries to expect at rockymountainwine.com.

    And that’s it! Best of luck! We’ll announce the winner on Monday, November 1st.

    Please note that tickets include admission to the event; tasting coupons must be purchased separately.

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  • Product Review: Bacon-Wrapped Boneless Turducken Roast with Italian Sausage Stuffing

    Oct 20 • AMERICAN/CANADIAN, EDMONTON, REVIEW • 61 Views

    A short while ago, a representative of Echelon Foods reached out to offer me a chance to taste something I’d only heard about in TV shows and through word-of-mouth: a turducken. Not quite the same as Ted’s “turturkeykey” (a turkey stuffed with another turkey) in How I Met Your Mother, a turducken utilizes a similar concept, combining turkey, duck, and chicken meat in one complete and boneless roast.

    With Canadian Thanksgiving on the way, I thought it would be a good time to give a turducken a shot. Here are my thoughts.

    Product: Bacon Wrapped Turducken Premium Roast, stuffed with Italian Sausage

    Cooking Time: Approximately 4 hours

    Result: Taking no longer to cook than a roast leg of lamb or a hearty Sunday stew, the turducken goes in fully seasoned and requires only very minor cooking adjustments before pulling it out and letting it rest under tin foil. I was amazed at how easy it was to cook, especially compared to some of my turkey preparations in the past. And oh, the aromas that filled the house while it was in the broiling stage!

    Even though it doesn’t seem like a huge roast, it’s easy to see how this turducken could feed ten people. Each sliced was filled with generous helpings of turkey, chicken, duck, and Italian sausage stuffing, all wrapped with layers of perfectly crisp bacon. Two generous pieces are enough to satisfy even the heartiest of appetites, which means plenty of leftovers for the family if you’re only serving up to five people (we were serving three, so you can imagine how much we had left over).

    Not wanting to outshine the turducken, and knowing that there was enough protein at our fingertips, we made simple sides for the meal: garlic mashed potatoes and a medley of roasted vegetables. The turducken left plenty of juice in the pan–enough to make a gravy or simply drizzle over the meat itself.

    As for taste, I was impressed. While many people overcook turkey, leaving it dry and tasteless, the turducken was moist and flavourful. Each bite revealed a different kind of meat, which added to the variety of the meal and was, to be honest, completely delicious.

    Based on the ease with which the turducken could be cooked, cut, and served, as well as the delicious meal that resulted from it, I would strongly recommend this product to any family looking to serve a big meal around the holidays.

    You can purchase a turducken from Costco or learn more about it on the Echelon Foods website. Enjoy your holiday dinners this season and be sure to comment below if you decide to try a turducken for the first time!

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  • Buco Pizzeria + Vino

    Sep 16 • EDMONTON, FOUR GLASSES, GLUTEN FREE, ITALIAN, PIZZA, REVIEW • 64 Views

    A great pizza is a wonderful thing. With Neapolitan style on the rise (think Famoso and Rosso), it’s only natural for more pizza places to pop up throughout the city with their own attempts at a traditional Italian pizza.

    Buco is St. Albert’s iteration of this trend. A branch of the Sorrentino’s Restaurant Group, Buco held its grand opening on July 26th, where they invited media guests and bloggers to enjoy a variety of appetizers and pizza, and to watch the owners as they cut the ribbon and officially declared the restaurant open.

    I’ve been back once since the grand opening–I wanted to make sure I’d tried enough to give a trustworthy review, since they didn’t serve gluten free pizza at the event–and I can say in full sincerity that I’ll be back. Often.

    The restaurant itself is a stylish and boutique little pizzeria located at The Shops at Boudreau in St. Albert. Ceiling-to-floor glass covers half of the restaurant, which is filled with a mix of modern furniture and traditional elements (olives, olive oil, and more). There’s a small, heated patio that’s great for a summer drink and bite to eat.

    Food-wise, they’re excellent. The charcuterie is amazing (that cacciatore!), the caprese salad offers just the right amount of flavour with a beautiful dash of pesto, and the gluten free pizza (while a bit tough to cut) was delicious and covered in high quality toppings. Nothing has passed my lips at Buco that didn’t delight me–from prosecco to the warm spiced olives.

    Drink-wise, they’re even better. I’ve often lamented the lack of restaurants that featured a BYOW (Bring Your Own Wine) special in Edmonton. Montreal spoiled me for them, since they were everywhere. I was very excited to see that Buco offers this special on Mondays–a perfect reason to grab some friends, enjoy some amazing food, and drink your favourite wine at cost. Buco also has $5 2oz cocktails every Wednesday; I’m dying to check out their version of the Negroni.

    I’d easily situate Buco as better than Famoso and on par with Rosso. The fact that they offer much more than pizza is a great selling point, but it’s also in the fact that their execution is so well done. It’s not kitschy and it’s not cheesy. It’s a classy pizzeria that offers exactly what you’re looking for if you’re a fan of pizza a la Naples. Good job, Buco. See you next Monday.

    Buco Pizzeria
    The Shops at Boudreau
    St. Albert, AB
    (780) 569-2826

    4/5

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  • LOBSTER SUMMER AT THE KEG

    Jul 22 • AMERICAN/CANADIAN, EDMONTON, GLUTEN FREE, SEAFOOD, STEAK, STEAKHOUSE, WINE • 92 Views

    Seafood. Steak. Wine. Few things give me greater pleasure, especially when I have access to all three at once. Which is why the Lobster Summer tasting event at The Keg was such a pleasant (and mouth-watering) experience.

    On July 16th, I attended an event at South Edmonton Common that showcased The Keg’s Lobster Summer promotion, a 15-year annual tradition that features dishes made from Canadian hard-shell, full-meat lobsters shipped over from the North Atlantic. Owen Abrams, The Keg South Common’s General Manager, informed us that the restaurant brings in Atlantic lobsters every summer and humanely kills them as they’re used.

    Alongside communications partner Kwittken, The Keg’s event brought together food bloggers and local foodies to taste this year’s selection of seafood dishes, including a number of new starter and casual plate options.

    “We’ve added a few dishes to adjust to the rising prices of seafood,” said Owen. “We’ve added some lighter seafood fare, which is more casual and at a lower price point so that everyone can enjoy it.”

    We started the evening with the Szechwan Lobster—golden fried lobster and shrimp with a mix of chilli peppers, red peppers, and asparagus, all tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce.

    Szechwan Lobster

    For the gluten intolerant (a.k.a. me), the starter was a Shrimp Cocktail with chilled black tiger shrimp and a martini cocktail sauce made with olives and gin—two of my favourite things. The tiger shrimp were gigantic: a perfect starter for one person or to share. These dishes were paired with a glass of Knotted Vines Chardonnay, Viognier and Riesling from British Columbia—the medium sweetness and light aftertaste of this wine went really well with the Shrimp Cocktail.

    Shrimp Cocktail

    Two of the Lobster Summer menu’s new casual plates, the Crispy Lobster Tacos and the Lobster Roll, were brought out. I was unable to taste either, but the consensus at the table was that the Lobster Tacos were a nice light dish, while the Lobster Roll had generous helpings of lobster and shrimp to match the heaviness of the brioche roll.

    Lobster Roll

    Instead, I was given a plate of the Scallops and Bacon, another favourite of mine. The scallops were cooked perfectly and I enjoyed them with a glass of Veramonte “Ritual” Pinot Noir from Chile–a lighter red wine that paired perfectly with the delicate scallops.

    Scallops and Bacon

    We were all fairly full to bursting by this point, so being presented with a huge plate covered in a 6oz sirloin steak, half a lobster, and grilled mushrooms was almost laughable. I gave it my best effort but, despite the tender medium-rare steak and buttery sautéed mushrooms, I was only able to eat the half lobster.

    Steak and Half Lobster (Image courtesy of The Keg Steakhouse + Bar)

    To be fair, our meals were also accompanied by a 1lb lobster tail (we had one per two people at the table), so I’m sure you can understand why I was in a food coma by this point. Finish that dining experience off with a glass of J. Lohr Estates “Riverstone” Chardonnay from California and I’d say that Lobster Summer was a complete success.

    In all honesty, I’ve always been much more a fan of crab than lobster, but this event and these dishes turned my opinion around completely. The half lobster was lovely, but the 1lb lobster tail was the centrepiece of the entire event. It was huge—as well it should be, at $40 per tail—and pieces dipped in the ramekin of butter would melt in your mouth. A superb example of lobster at its finest.

    I was very impressed by The Keg’s Lobster Summer menu and also very appreciative of their diligence in accommodating my gluten intolerance. Owen spoke to me before and during the meal to ensure that everything was suitable—and it was. More than suitable, in fact.

    I’ll definitely be returning to The Keg to enjoy items from the Lobster Summer menu before it ends on August 30th. If you’re having a special occasion dinner or simply want to treat yourself, I strongly recommend adding the 1lb lobster tail to your meal. You won’t regret it.

    The Keg Steakhouse + Bar (South Edmonton Common)
    1631 102 Street
    Edmonton, AB T6N 1M3
    (780) 485-6530
    @TheKeg

    Cover photo courtesy of The Keg Steakhouse + Bar

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  • BLISS BAKED GOODS

    Feb 6 • AMERICAN/CANADIAN, BAKING, EDMONTON, FIVE GLASSES, FOUR GLASSES, REVIEW • 66 Views

    As a British expat living in Canada, there are a number of things I miss about my birth country that I just can’t seem to find even in the busiest cities of the Great White North.

    Certain foods, for example, remind me of my childhood. A smell or a taste can bring me back to my life in our quiet British village—a life that saw me regularly making the trek to the local newsagents to pick up the latest Beano comic. I’d grab a Sherbet Fountain (a tube of sherbet that came with a black liquorice dipping stick) along with my comic before heading around the corner to the bakery, where I’d buy my favourite cheese straws (cheesy puff pastries).

    Flavours and textures bring back memories—sometimes I can seek them out, such as finding Lyle’s Golden Syrup at Save on Foods. Others come upon me when I least expect it, such as a taste of pizza in New York reminding me instantaneously of Cottingham’s sole pizza takeaway joint. Food has an uncanny ability to prompt involuntary memories, creating an instance of time travel with a mere taste.

    The same feeling came over me the second I bit into a cinnamon and sugar doughnut from Bliss Baked Goods, a family-owned bakery located in Edmonton’s Glenora district.

    Found next to Gini’s Restaurant, Bliss is a modest bakery that uses their space solely to make and display their products—there’s nothing superfluous in the setting. The bakery is owned by husband-and-wife team Lawrence and Shaindel Bliss, who have been running Bliss Baked Goods since they started the business on 118th Avenue more than 11 years ago. They moved into the new Glenora location in September 2014.

    Lawrence Bliss

    The bakery specializes in 100% kosher, dairy-free and nut-free baked goods, with a number of vegan options, including pastries and some specially made doughnuts.

    We visited on a Friday morning to pick up a dozen doughnuts for the office and ended up chatting with Lawrence and Shaindel, who explained their bakery’s philosophy and specialities. They gave us a taste of the cinnamon and sugar doughnut, which immediately brought me back to my favourite bakery in England—the soft, fluffy texture of the doughnut mixed with the gritty sweetness of the perfect blend of cinnamon and sugar. I haven’t had a doughnut like that in years.

    They insisted I take with me a vegan maple doughnut, which I devoured as soon as I returned to the office. I’ve never had a vegan doughnut before and, to my surprise, it wasn’t much different from a regular doughnut. It was delicious, creamy, soft—everything you’d assume a vegan doughnut could never be. (Then again, if they can make vegan bacon…)

    After tasting the delicious treats at Bliss Baked Goods, I’m not surprised to learn that they were recognized in Avenue Magazine’s 25 Best Things to Eat (2013) for their cinnamon and sugar doughnuts. If they can bring back my memories of childhood innocence, sweet cravings, and English cobblestones, then how will these sugary treats work their magic on you?

    Bliss Baked Goods
    10710 142 Street
    Edmonton, AB T5N 2P7
    (780) 453-0101

    4.5/5

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  • Lemon-inspired Recipes for Super Bowl Sunday

    Jan 29 • AMERICAN/CANADIAN, RECIPES • 42 Views

    It’s one of the biggest sporting events of the year and you’re having people over. You want to make something easy but delicious. Something that you can eat with your hands but that doesn’t get too messy. Whether you’re drinking beer, cider, or wine, these recipes all have a delightful lemon-inspired twist to help make this the most satisfying Super Bowl Sunday ever.

    All recipes were provided by the good folks at Savanna Dry, but I’ve put a little ‘Cheryl’ spin on each of them for those who are feeling exceptionally adventurous. Game on!

    Lemon Salsa

    Ingredients:

    • 2 medium lemons
    • 2 tbsp. minced onion
    • 1 tsp. sugar
    • ½ tsp. sea salt
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 2 tbsp. mint, minced
    • cilantro
    • basil

    Directions:

    1. Cut ends off the lemons, exposing the fruit. Stand it up on one end and use a knife to remove the peel and pith.
    2. Chop the lemon flesh into small pieces. Discard the seeds and large pieces of membrane.
    3. Transfer lemon and juices to a small bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients and serve with tortilla chips.
    4. Cheryl’s Twist: Add chopped cucumber to make this dish even more refreshingly satisfying.

    healthfitnessrevolution.com

    Lemon Pepper Wings

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. chicken wings
    • 1 tsp. lemon pepper
    • Oil

    Directions: 

    1. Heat oil in deep fryer. Place seasoning in a bowl or zip style bag and set aside.
    2. Deep fry wings for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly browned.
    3. Take cooked wings and place into seasoning and coat. Make sure the wings are still hot in order for seasoning to stick.
    4. Cheryl’s Twist: Coat the wings in two heaping tablespoons of corn starch before cooking to make the wings perfectly crispy.

    thefitnessfashionista.com

    Dill, Cucumber and Lemon Dip

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup Greek yogurt (plain)
    • 1 cup diced and peeled cucumber
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1 tbsp. fresh dill, minced
    • 2 tsp. lemon juice
    • 1 pinch salt and pepper

    Directions: 

    1. Place yogurt into a small bowl and add cucumber, garlic, dill, and lemon juice.
    2. Stir ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste.
    3. Serve with chips or vegetables.
    4. Cheryl’s Twist: Toss in a tablespoon of paprika to make this the best tzatziki you’ll find this side of the Atlantic.

    And don’t forget to pair your Super Bowl appetizer creations with a few bottles of Savanna Dry!

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