Giveaway: Tickets to the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival

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.

Buco Pizzeria + Vino

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

LOBSTER SUMMER AT THE KEG

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

Volcano Restaurant

Volcano is in a great location for those living south of Whyte Avenue–easily accessible by Calgary Trail and Gateway Boulevard, the restaurant offers both Japanese and Vietnamese cuisine in a well-decorated, spacious building. The combination of Asian flavour offerings is unusual but not unheard-of in our city, where one can get Korean short ribs at many Japanese restaurants, or enjoy a Pad Thai served up alongside a Curry Laksa.

When we arrived at the event, we were greeted with a glass of prosecco and given a chance to grab a seat at one of the many tables. The food samplings were laid out in platters: sushi, sashimi, and maki on one side of the table, short ribs, spring rolls, and pork chops on the other. The divide was interesting but not unwelcome–it’s nice to be able to pair cool raw fish with a cooked item or two.

I took a little bit of everything, grabbed a sake caesar, and sat down with my plate of goodies. Everything was good, although the short ribs will always come up tops for me. The tuna sashimi was light and fluffy, as it should be, and the unagi maki was filled with flavour.

We were lucky enough to witness the ribbon cutting ceremony, introduced by Ingrid Schifer de Dennis from Schif and the City and followed by a brief speech from the owner of Volcano. The event also had a photo booth set up by Mojo Photo, which was a great way to document the occasion (other than the usual flurry of tweets and food photos, of course).

I haven’t had a chance to try the full menu yet, but I’d rate Volcano as a tasty, reliable Japanese/Vietnamese restaurant based on my experience at the grand opening. I don’t feel like I can give it a fair rating until I dine there on a regular night, so my apologies for not including the usual wine glass ratings at the end of this post.

The prices are in the mid- to high-range for a sushi restaurant, so I’d estimate prices to be around $40-50 per person for sushi (depending on how much you can eat) and around $15-20 per person for Vietnamese. They also offer a variety of Western and Chinese dishes, including brunch omelettes and chicken stir fry. The menu on the website doesn’t appear to be working at the moment, but you can view their full offering on SkipTheDishes.ca.

Volcano Edmonton
4226 Gateway Blvd.
Edmonton, AB T6K 7J1
(780) 756-2218

Taste of Edmonton 2014

Ten days of Taste of Edmonton is never enough.

This year, the festival amped up their Sip ‘n Savour tent, offering cooking workshops, local flavours, pop-up events, and even a children’s tasting and exploration session. As always, there were plenty of restaurant pavilions to choose from, each one offering two of their speciality treats.

Prices were reasonable this year–most items were only three tickets. At $1.25 a ticket, that’s only $3.75 a dish. I remember spending quite a bit more last year, so this was a welcome change.

I didn’t get the chance to do a full round of the festival, but what I did try was great. Here’s an overview of each dish I sampled and where you can find them.

Beef Short Ribs and Mash
Normand’s Bistro

As my first dish of the day, Normand’s knocked it out of the park. The tenderest boneless short rib peeled away with the touch of a plastic fork, complemented by a beautiful gravy and creamy mashed potatoes. There’s not much I can tell you about beef short ribs, which I’m sure you’ve eaten before–these ones, in particular, were simply an excellent version of the same.

Injera and Doro Wot (Chicken Breast) and Ater Kik Aletcha Wot
Langano Skies Ethiopian Restaurant

Doro wot with chicken breast was similar to a spicy, thick stew and, served with injera, was a beautiful kick to the senses. While not quite searingly hot, this dish had enough of a kick to merit the ater kik aletcha wot, a pureed split pea dish (similar to lentils). Eaten together, the split peas offered a cooling sensation that made the heat of the first dish much more bearable. Luckily, I love heat, so I could’ve eaten a big ol’ bowl of that doro wot. Yum.

Grilled Quail with Pomegranate Sauce
Hoang Long Casual Fare

This was definitely the winner of the day. Hoang Long grilled whole quails (which takes 15 minutes per quail) and served them with a pomegranate sauce that had just a hint of sweetness. Tender, perfectly cooked, and absolutely delicious, this dish caused people all around to take a seat and bask in the delicate flavours of this tiny bird. It was messy and a little awkward to eat, but completely and utterly worth it. If the whole point of Taste of Edmonton is to convince diners to visit their restaurants, then Hoang Long has me sold.

Bison Slider with Gorgonzola Blue Cheese
The Underground Tap and Grill

I’m not generally a slider kind of person. I’d much rather eat a big burger or something else. With that in mind, this bison slider with gorgonzola was pretty good, but not something that I’d normally spend my money on. I admit that the blue cheese was a nice touch–I’m a sucker for a nice blue cheese. Nothing about this dish particularly amazed me, but it was solid pub food. I can appreciate that.

BBQ Pork Spring Rolls
Hong Kong Bakery

I didn’t actually try these, but you can take Funmi‘s word for it that they were very good. Just enough meat without being overly greasy, apparently. I liked how Hong Kong Bakery kept it simple and classic: what could be more Chinese than spring rolls and green onion cakes?

Bacon, bacon, everywhere! Edmonton’s first BaconFest.

The inaugural BaconFest launched on July 4th, leaving behind a wealth of thoroughly-porked, completely satisfied event guests. Because who doesn’t love bacon?

While Americans celebrated the 4th of July in their own fashion, with the usual fireworks, barbecues, and excessive drinking, Edmontonians did things a little differently. Those inclined towards the edible flocked to the ATB Financial Arts Barns for a taste of the good stuff: bacon. The city’s first Bacon Festival had two back-to-back events, offering guests a 150-minute opening to the best of the city’s porkiest treats. A ticket to the inaugural BaconFest guaranteed entry and gave you unlimited access (within reason) to each of the booths at the event.

Upon entry, guests were given a ticket for a free Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, although those averse to hops and malted barley could go left instead of right and find themselves at the Bakon Vodka booth, where two lovely ladies were serving up tasters of Bakon Caesars.

Across the entry lobby, you’d find bacon wares from Chicken Scratch, nibbles from restaurants such as La Ronde, Cookshack BBQ Nisku, and Century Hospitality Group, wine tasters from Lifford Wine and Spirits, and a delightful lounging area for those wanting to sit and savour their porky treats.

In the main hall, guests were treated to everything bacon, from Acme Meat Market‘s smoked bacon, to Central Social Hall‘s Bacon Roses, to The Popcorn Shoppe‘s bacon popcorn and Passion Sucree‘s Beer and Bacon Brownies. At the centre of it all, a DJ played great tunes while a big screen flashed bacon trivia to entertain the guests lingering at cocktail tables.

This festival didn’t just focus on the food, though. Around 10:30pm (we had attended the later time slot), the MC introduced the Baconmeister–Edmonton’s answer to Alan Carr in a bacon suit, bacon socks, and beautifully classic handlebar moustache. Games were played and prizes were awarded while the Baconmeister entertained the crowd with his delightfully flamboyant character and worldly “knowledge” of languages. In all honesty, I couldn’t quite keep my eyes off of his socks.

The event wrapped up with an acrobatic performance from Edmonton’s own Firefly Theatre, in which one performer undertook great aerial feats while wrapped in long sheets of cloth, which happened to look suspiciously like large pieces of streaky bacon.

As if these elements weren’t enough, there were also a gaggle of food trucks waiting outside for those who simply just wanted more. From Big City Sandwich to Molly’s Eats, the trucks had your back with even more bacon-inspired nibbles. They weren’t included in the ticket price, but that would be nothing to deter a true bacon-lover.

Here are my highlights from the first BaconFest event:

  • Cookhouse BBQ Nisku‘s Bacon and Brisket Sandwich – Coated in mustard, this sandwich was perfect. They kept it simple and it really, really worked.
  • Century Hospitality Group‘s BBQ’d Bacon – Not for people who don’t like a little fat with their bacon, this mini-meal was served with a beautiful smoky bean and bacon cassoulet and jalapeño bacon cornbread. Smoky and delicious.
  • Passion Sucree‘s Beer and Bacon Brownies – Delightfully baked with a hint of bacon, these were perfectly sweet and oh-so-moist.
  • Acme Meat Market‘s Smoked Bacon – As a bacon traditionalist, I appreciated the fact that one vendor served only bacon…and what bacon! Thick, smoky, and beautiful. Mmm.
  • Baconmeister’s Socks – I think I’ve made my point.
  • Chicken Scratch‘s Bacon Board Game – Actually, I’m impressed that Chicken Scratch managed to bring in THAT many bacon-related items. Who knew bacon chapstick, wallets, and Christmas tree ornaments were a thing?
  • Vegan Protesters – Guests were first greeted by vegan protesters outside of the building, all three of whom appeared to hold a personal vendetta against the fact that people willingly choose to eat meat. Their presence made for some pre-show entertainment, at least. C’est la vie, protesters.

All in all, a bacony good time was had by all. Great food and amazing vendors combined with hilarious entertainment and a solid number of bartenders did much to make this event a success. At the end of the day, though, those who love bacon tend to really love bacon, so the buy-in was immense. I’ll definitely be back next year and can only hope to get another glimpse of those bacon socks. Heck, I might even have a pair of my own by then.

BaconFest YEG
July 4th, 2014
ATB Financial Arts Barns
10330 – 84 Avenue 
Edmonton, AB T6E 2G9

2 Canteen | by Steve Munro

Guest post from local writer and blogger, Steve Munro.

When a friend texted me birthday plans for supper at Canteen, I couldn’t say no. It’s a relatively new arrival in Edmonton’s restaurant scene, has an easy to find location on 124 Street, and didn’t have a problem with a reservation for ten guests.

We were off to a good start when the servers took our coats for us at the front door before showing us to our long table with a leather cushioned bench seat at one side. Behind us, the bar was circled with hand-crafted metal bar stools with contoured steel backs. Once settled in, the birthday girl ordered herself a Bee’s Knees: a gin and honey drink that she enjoyed. I opted for a simple Americano coffee.

Unfortunately, my coffee was delivered in a mug that needed another run through the dishwasher, but our server quickly took it away and brought me a fresh brew in a new mug. The coffee itself had a strong, bitter aroma, but went down surprisingly smooth without leaving an aftertaste.

Our group decided to try almost one of everything off their “Small Stuff” menu, which seemed to be an alternative to the standard appetizer menu. I was very surprised by the pea falafel and spicy yogurt dip. The falafel was made with sweeter green peas rather than the typical chickpeas, but still maintained the same consistency, crunchy exterior, and texture. The spicy yogurt was fantastic. It had a smooth start and a gradual build to the spice delivery. The spicy flavor mixed very well with the sweeter green peas, and didn’t linger too long after the appetizer.

I also sampled one of the corn fritters with smoky maple syrup and seriously wondered which was better. I still haven’t made up my mind.

Most of our table ordered the Korean beef striploin. My medium-rare steak was excellent. The meat was just tender and juicy enough behind a firm cooked outer layer. It was served with a kimchi cake and yam puree that was surprisingly sweet. The kimchi cake was cut into triangles and cooked with a crispy outer skin to conceal a smoother mousse-like interior. There was an unfortunate mix up between two orders and a rare striploin ended up going to someone who ordered a medium-rare.

Another guest in our group decided to have some fun with her order and asked for all three of their dessert selections as her meal. Somewhere along the way, this order wasn’t processed with the rest of the group’s orders. It wasn’t until we checked on the progress of the dessert-as-supper order that our server realized the mistake.

As far as the desserts go, I loved the dark chocolate ganache – a rich, dense slab of smooth dark chocolate presented in a tart berry sauce. The portion size looks small but is so satisfying that a larger piece would only be a waste. When our friend who asked for all the desserts finally received her order, the only one she reported an issue with was the Poached Pear Verrine, which came across as a bit bland.

If you’re planning on visiting Canteen with a large group of people, say, more than four, you may have a few problems hearing each other. The modern layout and décor takes the form of textured concrete walls and concealed indirect lighting. The restaurant itself is long and narrow, and this tends to create a noticeable echo, which makes a conversation across ten people nearly impossible to participate in. The service staff seemed friendly and courteous enough but, at the same time, unsure and hesitant with a lack of confidence.

Overall, if you’re in no rush, can be patient with your order, and don’t mind the background noise, the menu itself is worth a try!

Canteen
10522 124 Street
Edmonton, AB T5N 1R9
(780) 485-6125
Tues – Fri: 11:30am-10:00pm
Sat – Sun: 10:00am-10:00pm

3.5/5

Canteen | by Steve Munro

Guest post from local writer and blogger, Steve Munro.

When a friend texted me birthday plans for supper at Canteen, I couldn’t say no. It’s a relatively new arrival in Edmonton’s restaurant scene, has an easy to find location on 124 Street, and didn’t have a problem with a reservation for ten guests.

We were off to a good start when the servers took our coats for us at the front door before showing us to our long table with a leather cushioned bench seat at one side. Behind us, the bar was circled with hand-crafted metal bar stools with contoured steel backs. Once settled in, the birthday girl ordered herself a Bee’s Knees: a gin and honey drink that she enjoyed. I opted for a simple Americano coffee.

Unfortunately, my coffee was delivered in a mug that needed another run through the dishwasher, but our server quickly took it away and brought me a fresh brew in a new mug. The coffee itself had a strong, bitter aroma, but went down surprisingly smooth without leaving an aftertaste.

Our group decided to try almost one of everything off their “Small Stuff” menu, which seemed to be an alternative to the standard appetizer menu. I was very surprised by the pea falafel and spicy yogurt dip. The falafel was made with sweeter green peas rather than the typical chickpeas, but still maintained the same consistency, crunchy exterior, and texture. The spicy yogurt was fantastic. It had a smooth start and a gradual build to the spice delivery. The spicy flavor mixed very well with the sweeter green peas, and didn’t linger too long after the appetizer.

I also sampled one of the corn fritters with smoky maple syrup and seriously wondered which was better. I still haven’t made up my mind.

Most of our table ordered the Korean beef striploin. My medium-rare steak was excellent. The meat was just tender and juicy enough behind a firm cooked outer layer. It was served with a kimchi cake and yam puree that was surprisingly sweet. The kimchi cake was cut into triangles and cooked with a crispy outer skin to conceal a smoother mousse-like interior. There was an unfortunate mix up between two orders and a rare striploin ended up going to someone who ordered a medium-rare.

Another guest in our group decided to have some fun with her order and asked for all three of their dessert selections as her meal. Somewhere along the way, this order wasn’t processed with the rest of the group’s orders. It wasn’t until we checked on the progress of the dessert-as-supper order that our server realized the mistake.

As far as the desserts go, I loved the dark chocolate ganache – a rich, dense slab of smooth dark chocolate presented in a tart berry sauce. The portion size looks small but is so satisfying that a larger piece would only be a waste. When our friend who asked for all the desserts finally received her order, the only one she reported an issue with was the Poached Pear Verrine, which came across as a bit bland.

If you’re planning on visiting Canteen with a large group of people, say, more than four, you may have a few problems hearing each other. The modern layout and décor takes the form of textured concrete walls and concealed indirect lighting. The restaurant itself is long and narrow, and this tends to create a noticeable echo, which makes a conversation across ten people nearly impossible to participate in. The service staff seemed friendly and courteous enough but, at the same time, unsure and hesitant with a lack of confidence.

Overall, if you’re in no rush, can be patient with your order, and don’t mind the background noise, the menu itself is worth a try!

Canteen
10522 124 Street
Edmonton, AB T5N 1R9
(780) 485-6125
Tues – Fri: 11:30am-10:00pm
Sat – Sun: 10:00am-10:00pm

3.5/5