Saturday Afternoon with Walsh Cooks

Today I was out and about with a dear friend of mine. The destination was the Muttart Conservatory to stop by Culina so I could get my hands on some of Cally’s Earl Grey Tea.

You see, up until today I had been rationing my Cally’s Earl Grey – so desperate was I to replenish my supply, I resorted to buying a box of Twinings from Safeway to stretch it out.For those of you who don’t know, Cally’s is in transition. Her shop on 99th has closed, and she is moving to her New and Exciting Location on Whyte Ave. But she’s not open quite yet. Watch this blog for news of the opening.

Twinings has a Royal Warrant, meaning it’s approved by the Queen. What they didn’t write on that Royal Warrant, that it is “by appointment of the Queen, but only while waiting for a supply from Cally’s”. Don’t get me wrong. Twinings make a nice cuppa. But it ain’t no Cally’s.

Lots to talk about today, so if you haven’t done so, do yourself a favour and pour a nice cuppa and relax while reading this. I’ll wait.

(LOL – I sat and waited. Seriously. Did a little chair dance to Mr. Scruff’s Get A Move On).

We’re back? Here’s the song, just in case you want to join in on the chair dance.

Let’s talk about the Muttart Conservatory. My friend, an Edmontonian, a well-traveled Edmontonian at that, hasn’t been to the Conservatory for about 20 years. I’m fairly new to Edmonton, so have been two or three times in the last 10 years. But the consensus is the same, the pyramids themselves haven’t changed that much. However, the central part of the building has.

I was expecting to see Culina in the centre of the complex much like where the old coffee shop was. I was pleased to see it just off the main entrance, making it a foodie destination for anyone, even those who don’t want to look at plants. A person could easily stop in and have a nice bacon, gouda and egg panini with nary a view of a hibiscus or Elephant’s Foot plant.

I was also charmed by the little gift store, opposite the restaurant. But the main attraction was what was found in the Culina restaurant. On a shelf, in a beam of light, I might have heard a harp, were little bags of Cally’s Teas. Of course the Earl Grey was there, but there were a select few other varieties as well.  In addition, there were a few jars of jam from the Jam Lady, and other bits and pieces from local producers. So, for those of you who are looking for Christmas gift ideas for the Foodie in your life, and you can’t make a farmer’s market on Saturday, take off during your lunch and head down to the Muttart Conservatory and pick up a few things from there.

Once in the Muttart Conservatory, I was excited to see the much talked about blue pointsettia. A pointsettia. That’s blue!

They had an absolutely lovely display of poinsettias for sale. They had many of the  traditional red, white, and pink varieties, along with some brilliant variegated white-reds that were stunning. Also found was a very impressive variegated purple-white pointsettia, but these were not for sale to the public, but found within the “feature” pyramid. I was with a friend who has a very dominate moral compass, so I couldn’t tuck one of the plants in my coat to take home with me. I wasn’t even allowed to pinch a coffee bean off the coffee plant. I resisted the theft, although I have to add, it is part of my genetic make up to steal from conservatories. My Baba snitched cuttings from the tropical conservatory at the Calgary Zoo and happily grew them in her home for many years. True story.

After a seemingly quick visit to the Muttart, it was time to find lunch. The plan was Mediterranian, and I had the idea to check out the new Greek restaurant on Whyte Ave near 109th Street. We found they didn’t open until 5, and my friend was quickly slipping into North American starvation -meaning, his mood was on the cusp of the slippery slope of grumpiness. So we went to our back-up location of The King and I.

We both agreed that Thai is in our Top 10 favourite food items, and I wonder why on earth I don’t eat this stuff every day. The flavours are amazing.

We started with a chicken – peanut satay, that was out of this world delicious. I’m sure that either one of us, if we were alone, would have licked the plate and/or used the little spoon in the satay sauce to consume the rest of the sauce as a soup.

This was followed by, for him, Matsaman Nuea – spicy red curry laced with cumin and peanuts, stewed with tender beef and potatoes. For me, the lady, the delicate flower of a lady that I am, I had the tiger prawn curry – tiger prawns served with fresh, sauteed vegetables served in a spicy green curry. Both were served with coconut rice.

And that sprig of black in the middle you see? See? That is pepper my friends. Pepper. Pepper I usually put in my peppermill. Hot. Pepper. My dining partner ate through that and didn’t even break a sweat. Me, the delicate flower of a woman that I am choked on the heat. Of course I hoped my cough and sputtering would have been interpreted as having had tickle in my throat, but the truth is, I couldn’t handle the heat.

But all that green curry you see, with my tiger shrimp swimming happily, is a bowlful of delicious happiness. I’ve not been so happy eating out in ages. As I said, I wonder why I don’t eat this every day.

Our day concluded with a nice cup of tea. And that, my dear readers, is the best way to end any day. With a nice cuppa tea.

(another pause)

Unless of course, you opened a bottle of red wine and got engaged writing a blog and listening to some awesome music, and drank too much wine, and do a lot of chair dancing and wear yourself out to the point you can’t wait to get into bed, a bed you have ALL TO YOURSELF, so you can have one of those nights where you can sprawl, toss, turn and snore to your hearts content without worrying about disturbing your partner. Don’t get me wrong. I miss my bedwarmer with all my heart and soul. But sometimes a night of not worrying if my elbow hits a face is a treat. A treat indeed.

(another pause)

… are there royal warrants for blogs? I am a fan of the Queen’s son’s Duchy Originals Cheese Nibbles. That should count for something. 😉


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Michelle says:

    You’re probably going to get done under some kind of ‘lese majeste’ law you know 🙂 Haha! I’ve been to the Muttart a few times (dang kids and the need to take them somewhere ‘educational’!)but haven’t been since Culina opened. Its time for another trip methinks.

    I love the King and I too. But the Thai place I always end up in is the Thai Valley Grill at Whitemud crossing… I adore the food there, plus it reminds me of a little awesome place in London called the Thai Cottage, which I basically haunted! Damn, now you have me craving Thai food, and I just ate too!

  2. I’m so glad to hear Culina has gone into the Muttart’s restaurant space! Will have to check it out. We went to the Muttart right after the renos were done and the promised new café was appallingly awful, such a disappointment.

  3. Kiri says:

    You might also be interested to know that many of the herb and leafy greens served at Culina Muttart are grown in the Muttart greenhouses year-round.

  4. Walsh Cooks says:

    I am interested and happy to learn this! Do you know where they keep the key to the greenhouse they grow these in? I live not too far away, and would LOVE access to fresh herbs and greenery. 😉

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