Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Also known as Prostitute’s or Whore’s spaghetti. Why? I’ve learned the aromatics from this dish is supposed to tickle the olfactory system, thus enticing a working girl’s customers to come pay a visit.

Before I go further, let me give credit where it is due. I came across the recipe I’m using from an article I read by Eric Akis of the Times Colonist whilst visiting Victoria this past week. He writes an enjoyable article, and suggest you read it.

I’ve done further internet research, and have learned that there is a number of different ways of putting this dish together – whole tomatoes vs strained tomatoes, for instance, but tonight I am favouring Eric’s recipe.

Here’s a photo of the ingredients:

IMG_6128.JPG

Ideally, there should be a bunch of fresh, bright basil leaves in this picture, but the Italian Centre Shop was out, in  my time of need. I won’t hold a grudge though – they had everything else I needed, and will live, just this once, with dried basil.

Unless baking, I rarely follow a recipe to spec. Again, please read Eric’s recipe if you are more comfortable with precise amounts. I have a hard time measuring spaghetti. If I have a recipe that needs spaghetti, the whole box is used. If I need strained tomatoes, I will dump in the entire bottle. In this case, this recipe requires:

Spaghetti (1 box)
Olive oil (glugs to taste)
Chili flakes (to taste)
Anchovies (4 -5)
Capers (tablespoon or two)
Strained tomatoes (1 bottle)
Garlic, glorious, glorious garlic (today it was 7 cloves)
Black olives (1/2 – 3/4 cup)
Basil (dried, 2 tbsp)

I will use caution with the anchovies, black olives and capers and use the 4 minced anchovies, 1/2 cup of black olives and 2 tbsp capers Eric recommends only because I’m not all that familiar cooking with these things and don’t want the dish to get too salty or fishy.

The method is straight forward. Boil up a pot of water for the spaghetti. When it boils, drop the heat down and concentrate on the sauce.

For the sauce, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped garlic, anchovies and chili flakes. Make sure the heat isn’t too high. You don’t want to burn that lovely garlic. When the smell gets to a point of toe-curling rapture, add the tomatoes, dried basil leaves, olives and capers.

While this is simmering, bring the pot of water back to the boil and cook the spaghetti. When it’s done, scoop out a teacup full of the water and set aside. Drain the spaghetti, put it back in the pot and add the sauce. If it’s too sticky, add bits of the reserved water.

Top with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano if you have it. We can’t eat pasta without it. We invest in this cheese. We buy more than we need, have one that is in use, and a spare in the back of the fridge so we never run out.

There you have it, Spaghetti alla Puttanesca. Time for me to leave, pull on some fishnet stockings over my arthritic knees, a black satin corset with red feather trim on my squishy torso, stiletto’s on my plantar fasciitis feet and some ruby red lipstick on my chapped lips. Where did I put that riding crop? … *wink*

POSTSCRIPT: While opening the tin of anchovies, the lip snapped generating one of the most beautiful sprays of fish oil all over me, the kitchen counters, and the floors. I was hoping to greet Michael at the door in a saucy, sexy, sophisticated way. Instead, he will find me disheveled, with all the neighbourhood cats twirling around my legs and meowing on my shoulders.

Sir Winston’s Fish and Chips

It’s not often I’ll post a blog about a place without at least one picture, but last night a regular dinner out turned into such a fun experience, I thought I’d give it a plug – without a picture.

If you are looking for authentic English fish and chips, do yourself a favour and visit Sir Winston’s Fish and Chips. It’s located at 10505 51 Ave NW (same strip mall as London Drugs, and adjacent mall to the Italian Centre Shop). I had a perfectly pulled Boddington’s. Okay, I had two perfectly pulled Boddington’s. We both had fish (halibut) and chips.

The fish was fresh, meaty and delicious, the batter light and crisp. The chips are proper English chips – thick cut, perfect for malt vinegar and ketchup. We are both fans of the homemade coleslaw. The one-piece was more than generous for a single serving.

Our server is charming and fun. Both owners are enthusiastic and want happy customers. I was charmed by the Big Ben salt and pepper shakers. For those ex-pats, check the feature wall and table tops for authentic linen tea towels and find your county/country, family name or flag.

This place is more than fish, and we look forward to our next visit for butter chicken or steak and kidney pie. Sir Winston’s decor has been updated by the new owners. The atmosphere is casual, with a vibe between pub and restaurant. It is family friendly, and a comfortable place to sit and enjoy a meal. TV’s are strategically placed for those into sports.

Prices are reasonable, for both fish and pints!

Sir Winston’s Fish and Chips
10505 51 Ave NW, Edmonton
(780) 430-7170
Delivery available through Skip the Dishes

Chutney’s Indian Grill

Craving Indian food but don’t feel like the mental wrestling needed when visiting a buffet? You know what I mean. You go in thinking “I’ll just pick a little bit of this and that and call it a night”. Nuh-uh. Next thing you know you are trying to discreetly unbutton your fly to allow for tummy expansion and breathing space while wondering at the Very Same Moment, if you should have one more piece of naan to sop up the remains of the butter  sauce on your plate because, afterall, you are paying $25 and need to get every penny worth of food.

As you drive home you berate yourself for eating too much and swear for the 1,000th time (say it together now) “I’ll never do that again”. Once you are home you burst out of your clothes, flake out on the couch and commence a few hours of nothingness while your body sighs deeply and gets to work to try to digest the overload of food.

Edmonton now has a terrific option for those craving delicious Indian food, but don’t want the commitment of a food coma afterwards. Chutney’s Indian Grill offers delicious, fresh-made Indian food for those looking for a healthy guilt-free eating experience.

IMG_5561 2

Chutney’s Indian Grill just opened. The decor is colourful, bright and with clean lines. There is abundant tables and chairs, as well as a few high stools at a counter.

To order, it is the now familiar line where you start on one end to select your option – burroti (a marriage of roti and burrito), bowl or salad. Next you choose your starch (rice or quinoa), followed by protein (chicken, beef, tofu, chickpeas). Next up is the difficult decision of sauce – butter, tikka, dahl, or vindaloo. Next, select your favourite veggie toppings and finally, your favourite chutney.

For a place called Chutney’s, they do not disappoint in their chutney selection. Everyone’s palate is guaranteed to find a chutney to suit them. From a dark tamarind, to a bright cilantro to a sticky (and yummy) mango peach to a fiery hot cranberry red chili.

IMG_5556

Michael and I were intrigued and anxious to try the burroti. The dough is fresh and cooked right before your eyes on the DoughPro 400 – an amazing machine that turns a ball of raw dough into a piping hot roti in the blink of an eye.

I chose a combo of quinoa, chickpeas, veggies, vindaloo and mango chutney for my burroti. Although I am the furthest thing from a vegetarian, I do try to pick vegetarian/vegan options now and again to give my body some hope and encouragement of a better life of enlightenment and spirituality (it really means I need the extra fibre in my diet).

IMG_5553

The burroti is then wrapped in foil. Novice that I am, I sat down, unwrapped mine and was ready to dig in with fork and knife. Owner Harvey came over in the nick of time to explain how to keep it wrapped, pull the foil back, and eat your portable Indian meal as you would a donair. Amazing!

Michael was enraptured with the entire experience. He could have stood in front of the DoughPro 400 all night if I didn’t drag him away. Although he looks a little perturbed having his picture taken with a burroti in his face, he was as impressed as I was with the delicious flavours.

IMG_5558

We really enjoyed ourselves this visit. We think this is a great idea and wish Harvey and his crew the very best of success.

Chutney’s Indian Grill can be found in the deep southeast corner of Edmonton at 4316 – 17th Street. Check out their website at Chutney’s Indian Grill and then go visit them.

 

 

Narayanni’s

Tucked off Whyte Avenue at 10131 81 Avenue is Narayanni’s, serving gourmet South African Indian cuisine made by the Naidoo family.

The restaurant is located on a street with plenty of free angle parking. The building was built over 70 years ago as Adndt’s Machine Shop. From the outside, it has that classic Old Strathcona feel about it, but once you step inside you are greeted with a sparkling clean, tasteful and subtly designed space with nice sized tables, sturdy chairs and room to breathe.

In the centre of the room is a circular serving area where the buffet is displayed. Michael and I visited Narayanni’s on Wednesday night for the Wednesday Night Buffet at the unbeatable price of $15.00 per person.

As this was our first visit, we did a tour of the buffet before making selections. On this night, the buffet featured:

Papadams
Cucumber Raita (yogurt dip)
A colourful mixed salad
Basmati rice
Vegetable Curry Soup
Grilled Chicken Masala
Curried Potatoes with Peas and Green Beans
Chana (Chickpeas) with Mushrooms
Chicken Curry
Tofu CurryRice Pudding

Warm, delicious roti was also available and was brought to the table to us.

We started with the vegetable curry soup. The flavours in the soup brought my tastebuds to life. Michael and I both exclaimed if that is all we ate that night, we would have left happy campers. But we didn’t stop there, of course. We got up again and filled our fresh plates (emptied plates were swiftly taken away).

IMG_5129

I sampled all the food on the buffet. The potatoes with peas and green beans, the chana with mushrooms, the chicken curry, the grilled chicken masala, and the roti, ohhhhh that roti, was so delicious. There was good strong level of spicy heat in the curries.  A bit more and I’d be fanning my mouth, but it just took us to the edge, still allowing all those beautiful flavours through.

IMG_5130.jpg

I did learn this evening that South African Indian cooking does not have the cream sauces I’ve become used to seeing in Edmonton. For someone like me with an intolerance to dairy, it was very special to be able to eat virtually anything on the menu without having to ask “does this have dairy?”. There was the raita (yogurt), but that was easily identifiable. The post-dinner chai tea and rice pudding were made with almond and coconut milk on request.

IMG_5133

Narayanni’s food is all made fresh, no preservatives. They source local, organic, free range, and in season food. They have a large assortment of gluten and vegan menu items, and feature a Tuesday Vegan Night Buffet for $15.00 per person (cash only). There are a variety of different buffets for different nights of the week. There is also a lunch buffet for the seemingly impossible price of $12.00 per person. Please check their website for times, prices, and when cash is only accepted as this changes throughout the week.

If you are looking for an indulgent, flavourful, healthy, feel-good to toes your meal, I highly recommend trying Narayanni’s. You will be made to feel welcome and at home.

IMG_5137

 

 

 

Dixie Lee Chicken

This post has two purposes. One, to introduce you a new fried chicken place. Two, to tell you what I did to do to make this blog post happen – from conception, to research, to testing, to sitting in front of the computer Googling “how much water will I need to drink to remove all the exceess salt in my body”. It all starts innocently enough.

I’m sitting at my desk at work, toiling away, ensuring I am giving tax payers value for their money. In walks a co-worker, opening the conversation with this:

“Hey Cath, can I talk to you? I have a non-work question”.

“Sure!” I say. I have sufficiently toiled, I can take a five-minute break.

“What’s that new chicken place called on Whyte?” is the gist of the question.

“What new chicken place”, asks I.

“On Whyte, where the Cheese Factory is”, is the answer.

I had no idea, but being the helpful sort of person I am and because I have a network of Foodies on my Twitter feed, threw out the question to the Twitterverse. No one responded within .5 seconds, so we resumed our conversation.

We had a short chat about Korean fried chicken, fried chicken in general, and by this point, the craving for fried chicken was firmly planted. I know me. These cravings don’t go away until fed. I haven’t quite mastered the deep breathing, go for a walk, drink green tea and meditate to stop these cravings in their tracks. No, instead, I do research on all things fried chicken. I dreamt of fried chicken last night. But then, the night previous I had a dream that K.D. Lang stopped by to talk to me while at an open air concert and she told me that I am a lesbian….

….. anyway, my point is, just because I dream of fried chicken, doesn’t mean I need to eat fried chicken. I just finished watching Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food which was interesting, and left me with these simple words that will help eat healthy: “If it’s advertised on TV, don’t eat it”.

As it is, I have never seen an ad on TV for Dixie Lee Chicken. (I will always find a loophole).

This morning I received rescue from Sharon Yeo of Only Here for Food. She suggested the place we were looking for was Dixie Lee Chicken.

With my husband home sick with a  bug, after some basic nursing and cooing, I went into to work to complete a project. A project tax payers would be proud of. We’ll not mention the Facebook post while I was at the office, expressing my pleasure of being able to still stick the Bugles I found in our staff lunchroom on the ends of my fingers….

bugles.pcn.png

…. I decided I’d indulge in some fried chicken for lunch. Off to Dixie Lee I went.IMG_5122

Dixie Lee Chicken is located at 8943 82 Avenue Edmonton. It is in the same strip mall The Cheese Factory was, and continues, to be part of (although they are now just a retail shop).

IMG_5123.jpg

Dixie Lee Chicken opened in Bonnie Doon one month and one week ago. There is plenty of angle parking in the front of the building and adjacent side street. The shop is clean, has a comfortable amount of open space, and plenty of seating.

I was greeted by a friendly person. I placed my order and was told to wait about five minutes. In those five minutes, I observed that the seating area was clean, and busy. There were a few tables still available had I decided to eat in. The Cheese Factory etched window is visible inside Dixie’s space.

I was delighted when a couple who arrived after me were speaking fluent French with the lady at the counter. I love Bonnie Doon for that reason. Although I don’t speak French, I love that our country is bilingual and love hearing it.

There was lots of interest in Dixie Lee. As I was waiting a number of people came in to check out the menu and the space.

I had ordered the five-piece fried chicken (no fries thanks), and a small coleslaw. Just as my order was due, a fellow came out from the back and asked if I would mind legs and wings – he’d give me more of those if I did. I happily accepted because those are my favourite pieces anyway, and left with a box of 8 juicy pieces, plus one plump breast.IMG_5120.jpg

After a meandering drive home, and a peek to check on Michael’s vitals, I sat myself down with my box of chicken and tub of coleslaw.

The chicken was still crispy and juicy. My only experience previous to this was Kentucky Fried Chicken, Chicken-on-the-Way in Calgary, and Mary Brown‘s. I match this closest to Mary Brown’s. But better. Mind you, when I had Mary Brown’s, I was also following the Jenny Craig diet, and had just spent $120 for Jenny Craig food for a week, and decided to buy Mary Brown’s chicken that same evening on my way home. That supper was laden with guilt and shame.

*melancholy sigh*

The coleslaw. Dixie Lee’s coleslaw is sweet, has a nice crunch, and tastes delicious. A bit more liquidy than I’m used to, but completely edible and enjoyable.

Dixie Lee will cure all your cravings for fat, salt, and sugar in one fell swoop. If you are going to blow your diet, do it right, and do it big. I recommend Dixie Lee’s in Bonnie Doon.

 

 

Hotel Kitchenette Cooking

Fellow travelers, this post is for you. Especially those of you who frequently travel for business.

Back in the day I traveled away from home at least one or two nights a week. Nowadays I’m lucky if I travel twice a year for work.

Some people love traveling to try new food. Of course I do too, but not every meal, every day. I like to make sure my diet has ample fresh fruit and vegetables, something that can be a challenge when on the road.

This is made easier if choosing a room with at least a refrigerator. A microwave is a bonus. A room with a kitchenette is complete luxury, and this is what I selected on my last work-visit to Victoria BC. I chose to stay at the Oswego Hotel a gem of a hotel, one block away from the inner harbour, and a reasonable walking distance to the 24 hour James Bay Thrifty’s Grocery store.

I got a studio suite with well stocked kitchenette: refrigerator, microwave, stove-top, pots and pans, utensils, toaster, blender, proper kettle, tea-pot, coffee maker, French press, sink and dishwasher. No need to make grilled cheese using the iron and ironing board here.

I brought a few things along with me from home. Some dried beans and rice, pre-measured into single serving zip bags. I also brought along some dried garlic granules and lemon pepper spice. I also tucked in a small one-cup serving reusable plastic tub with lid. These took up no room in my bag, and saved me spending ridiculous amounts on money on spices at my destination. When I arrived at the hotel, I dropped off my bags and headed over to the grocery store. There I picked up six eggs, milk, a stick of butter, a loaf of bread, yogurt, and frozen blueberries. My favourite go-to fruit is apples, but the hotel provided lovely Granny Smiths at the front desk and in the room.

IMG_4857

On the first night after settling in, which means opening all the cupboards, sniffing the soap, checking the bed for bugs, hanging up my clothes and calling home I decided to make toast and tea, one of my quick go to snacks when needing to relax and feel comfy.

I pulled out the toaster. I noticed the dial was set to Level 11, so thought it might be one of those  toasters that has a tough time getting hot and toasting the toast. Indeed, it took two cycles to get to a glorious golden brown. Golden, not burnt. But what happens? The smoke alarm goes off!IMG_4837.jpgThe smoke alarm is strategically placed above the kitchenette. Clearly, it is a smoke alarm on the ready, determined to save the lives of the inhabitants in the hotel, because honest to god, there was NO SMOKE. I mean, look at the picture! The butter isn’t even melting!

Quite contrary to my regular behaviour, I calmly continued to butter my toast through the ear-splitting alarm. I could hear doors opening the hallway. I could visualize my neighbours standing around in their pyjamas and sweats wondering where the fire is. I didn’t even open a window. I figured once I finished buttering my toast, I’d flap one arm in the general vicinity of the alarm to help circulate the air.

As it is, the alarm silenced when it was satisfied there was no fire.

The next morning I was woken by seagulls and gurgling float planes and breakfast was the first thing on my mind. I decided with confidence to make a poached egg, and have it on toast. Feeling a little anxious about setting the smoke alarm off at 6:30 a.m. I took some preventative steps. The first, open the patio door. The second, turn on the ceiling fan to High. With the ceiling fan twirling around so fast it looked like it was ready to come off its moorings, I felt safe to make toast.

The toast was made, again using two cycles, but this time I stood guard with tea towel in hand and flapped the air around, just to make sure. Toast was made, no alarm. Meanwhile, my simmering water produced the most beautiful and perfect of poached eggs. I admired it as it sat atop my buttery toast, took the picture, and enjoyed my breakfast with a most amazing view.

IMG_4845

For work, I scooped out some yogurt and frozen blueberries in my handy container, and packed a granola bar.

IMG_4859This is a regular work-day snack I have, and was quite pleased with myself to continue the tradition while away from home.

For supper, I was feeling ambitious when I left home and had visions of making rice and beans and taking in left overs for lunch. This didn’t happen for two reasons. The first is cooking up an onion in a studio room gave me visions of sleeping in onion vapours the rest of the visit, and smelling up my clothes. The second is the simple social dynamic of traveling. My natural self desires to be in my PJs by 7 pm, under the covers watching Netflix shows and eating Cheezies.  But I am easily swept up in the “let’s go for a drink after work” thing, and next thing I know I am finishing my second pint of beer, sipping my first glass of wine, and ordering Thai prawns. My ankles swell thinking of it.

However, a night of booze and salty-high fat restaurant food is quickly remedied by drinking glasses of water, starting the next day with cups of tea and eating a bowl of heart and artery soothing oatmeal.

Traveling can be hard on some people, especially those with delicate dispositions if you know what I mean. At the minimum, a kettle or microwave to heat up water to make oatmeal for breakfast is a sure way to keep things moving along. A fridge to keep berries frozen and yogurt cool is a must. It doesn’t take much to eat healthy while on the road.

Don’t forget to enjoy the people you are with too. Don’t get so hung up on healthy eating that you miss out on nights out on the town. A few beers with co-workers can begat friendships and memories to last a life time.

 

 

Rostizado

I’m not saying this is correct, and I mean no disrespect if I got it wrong, but I pronounce it Roast-eee-zah-dough. It does mean roast, as in roast chicken, or roast pork, or roast beef. All served with a side of roasted potatoes… wait for it… in pork fat. Oh my god, those very words create a sort of climactic vibe, complete with curled toes, and a deeply satisfied sigh.

Rostizado is a year old, and belongs to the same delicious food geniuses who brought Edmonton Tres Carnarles, which I wrote about in 2011.

The menu at Rostizado will be explained by your server much better than I will, but if you are uncertain about what you see when you visit their beautiful website, here’s the main point:

Spit Roasted Meat
Roasted Potatoes
Authentic Mexican Yumminess

IMG_4644My friends and I opted to each have our own 1/4 lb of roasted pork with roasted potatoes. It was served with hand made flour tortillas and salsa. It’s not Date Night food. To eat this means you dig in, use your fingers, have no fear of pork fat, and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. The serving, for $20, was enormous. I ate the entire plate because there are starving people in the world, but my friends who do not think about the starving people, had left overs.

Rostizado is located in a very cool part of Edmonton, at 10359 – 104 Street. Try not to focus on the construction in the neighbourhood as Edmonton builds the Ice District. Parking is not easy or cheap before 6 pm, but after 6 pm there are a number of free street parking options. For a real treat, plan your dinner after dark, and enjoy the nostalgic Neon Museum (Canada’s first!!!) across the street from Rostizado.

When you arrive at Rostizado, you will be greeted by FIRE on either side of the doors. This does help draw attention to your destination, because from the street, it’s not so easy to see. You will face about 10 steps or so to enter the restaurant. Those with limited mobility will have to enter the restaurant from the rear of the building where there is elevator access. Or, opt to stay on the street and admire the Neon Museum and have your food to go (they do offer Take-Out Service).

Rostizado is located in the historic Mercer Building. A beautiful brick, high ceiling, large wood beamed building that has managed to NOT get burned down. This building is a real treasure to Edmonton, and Rostizado has respected the building’s history to a T. And speaking of history, I was absolutely thrilled to see the music for the restaurant was provided by a turntable, with frequent changes of LP. My table mates and I were particularly thrilled when the needle skipped – it brought back memories for us, and placing a penny on the head shell to prevent skipping.

IMG_4640 (1)Music is a big deal to me, and the sound-system and choice of music in Rostizado is perfect. A bit chill, retro, and laid back. There’s no irritating twang or deep bass that stir the intestines.

My friends and I arrived fairly early by most people’s standards, so we had the place to ourselves for quite a while. As our experience was ending, the place began to fill with an assortment of young hipsters that go “sssswwhhaaa ssssshhwaaaa” a thousand times (I am serious, I could not figure out WHAT they were saying or doing – but it did involve some jumping away from the table and standing alone and looking at their belt buckles), happy couples holding hands, and single, middle aged men sitting at the bar-style seat over looking 104th Street. I am most delighted when there is a group of people meeting for dinner, particularly, when the first people arrive and try to strategically place themselves at the table. To the neurotic, such as myself, it is life affirming to know I am not alone in believing seat placement is everything.

IMG_4643The ambiance in Rostizado will suit everyone. It’s relaxed. The service is friendly. There  is not an ounce of pretentiousness here. It is a haven for those who enjoy food that is meticulously prepared to give you flavour, enjoyment, and memories. Go.

A Taste of the Real YEG

For those who don’t know, YEG originally, and is still, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) code for the Edmonton International Airport (EIA). Back in the day when I was in Travel Agent School, I had to memorize all the airport codes in the world, which served me well in my 10 years with Time Air, Canadian Regional and Canadian Airlines. After I left, I would only show-off my IATA airport code skills when travelling or writing in short hand, but now it has found a whole new use in Twitter. You are probably very familiar with #YEG after all. The fine people at EIA invited a bunch of us food bloggers out for a Taste of EIA, give us a sample of what’s available, and give us some interesting facts about the EIA to share with our readers. I pause here to make special mention of the pen we all got at the bottom of our swag bags. It is a pen of q-u-a-l-i-t-y… it has a real weight behind it, and came in a fancy velvet-like pouch. No, you may not borrow my pen. IMG_3992 Anyways, now that I’ve identified that I can be easily bought with a promo pen (quality promo pens, mind you), let’s get on with food experience! Come this way….

First stop – Chili’s: We were greeted with a table full of Very Large Alcoholic Drinks (they knew I was coming).    I selected the Coronita Beer Caesar, which is a new offering at Chili’s. You’ve seen the margarita’s with inverted beers, yes? Well, this is the same thing, but in Caesar form. It was delicious. IMG_3962 I also tried a wee bit of a Platinum Presidente Margarita – a big sized traditional margarita that is hand-shaken and served over ice. IMG_3969 For food, we were provided plates of delicious deep-fried goodness – onion rings, southwestern eggrolls, chicken wings, dry ribs, tostada chips, and the show stopper…. White Spinach Queso – which is white queso (cheese) and chopped spinach topped with shredded Monterey Jack, house-made pico de gallo (salsa), fresh guacamole, queso fresca (more cheese) and chopped cilantro, and wait for it….. served warm. This oooey gooey splodge was crazy delicious. Lactose intolerance be damned. I ate it anyway. IMG_3971 Second stop – Heineken: If you want to try something that is unique to Canada, try the Heineken lounge. It is the only one in Canada! And they serve more than beer. The menu offered some delicious food options, and around the table we had a generous serving of good old Mac ‘n Cheese (not the Mack Male and Graham Hicks kind either, but they would have been welcome), beside this was a decidedly smaller serving of cheese on a cheese board… but who wants to load up on cheese before a flight anyway? Also spotted was a chicken satay, waffle fries, a salad, a burger and my dish, the chicken curry served with pillowy soft naan, basmati rice and a mango/apple chutney. It was good, filling food.

IMG_3982

Last stop – Caffe Sorrentino’s: Now Caffe Sorrentino’s is interesting. As you pass by it, you might think they just serve coffee, gelato and a few beers. You would be wrong. They serve DELICIOUS coffee and gelato, yes, but they also serve grilled pannini, soup, salad, pasta, breakfast and desserts. By this time though, all I wanted was a decaf Americano, which was one of the best decaf/caffeinated Americano’s I ever had. So much so, I have decided to switch to Sorrentino’s downtown at Edmonton Centre East instead of Starbucks for my coffee fix. Arrivederci Starbucks (but I’ll still see you at Omega). IMG_3986 My blood orange sorbetto was a perfect sweet end to the evening. Was this it? No! Despite being full to bursting, who could say no when we were presented with an assortment of delicious desserts… I scored a dark chocolate layer cake which had to come home with me because at the table I poo-poo’d the idea of eating more that evening (but naturally the moment I got home and tea was poured, split the cake with Michael and finished it off in less than 30 seconds). I am not a fan of dense chocolate cakes, and although this LOOKED dense, it was quite light and not too sweet. It was perfect. I have become a new fan of Caffe Sorrentino’s. I look forward to my next visit. IMG_3989 Although I can’t speak for all Edmontonians, I suspect most of us race to the airport, race through security, race to the gate, and then sit and wait and fiddle with our phones for 45 minutes or more until our flight is ready to board. Next time, I will try to arrive a few minutes earlier and relax over a coffee and enjoy a nice meal before boarding. EIA has made the departure lounge a thing of beauty. Although they still have an abundance of the ubiquitous airport seating, they have also brought in comfortable seating where you can sit by yourself, NOT next to someone who carries all their luggage plus a cello plus a cat in a carrier and tries to read the free National Post while talking on their phone and eating a bagel. There is also cafe-style seating for those who want a table without having to buy a meal. Best of all, is the indoor vertical garden. It’s a 1,400 square foot Living Wall with 8,000 different plants which helps purify the airport’s air. You will find this right next to the Heineken Lounge, the Belgian Beer Cafe and Sorrentino’s. My thanks to EIA’s delightful Jacquie and Gillian for the invitation, as well as to fellow bloggers, Edible Woman, Marlow Moo and The Tiffin Box for the great company.

Yokozuna Japanese Restaurant – Edmonton

IMG_3952
Gyoza. More please.

Yokozuna Japanese Restaurant is a lot like the Tardis from Dr. Who. From the outside, it is part of an average looking strip mall, blending in with the scenery. Once you open the door though, it opens into a simple and tastefully designed space that seems far bigger inside than it does from outside.

We arrived on a Saturday around 7 pm, and had called ahead for a table. At the time we were told there would only be bar seats available, which we had no problem with. However, as it happened a table did open and we were sat immediately.

Yokozuna does have bar seating, open tables with chairs, enclosed tables with chairs, and the quaint zashiki style seating for those that can bend and flex.

Service was quick and efficient. We barely had time to review the sake menu when asked what we wanted for drinks. You will not find hot Gekkeikan on the menu here, instead you will find an overwhelming list of cold sake. We asked for a sampler and received, for $9.00 (each) three samples of their newest choices.

Michael and I are most used to hot sake, and dabbled just a few times before in cold sake. As time passes, we are enjoying the cold sake more and more. The differences in sweetness, alcohol, colour and taste, is amazing. There’s lot yet to learn here.

For food, we were disappointed to learn they were out of toro and hamachi, but only disappointed in that it derailed our usual pattern of what we ordered. Instead, we replaced the usual negitoro cone with California rolls, and the hamachi with unagi. These opportunities are great to try something new.

IMG_3953
California rolls with sesame seed option.
IMG_3955
Unagi and salmon

The food was delivered promptly. The gyoza were simply delicious and we both had to talk ourselves out of ordering a second order. The remainder of the sushi was fresh and delicious. The tuna sashimi was some of the best I’ve ever had.

IMG_3951
Tuna sashimi. More please.

If you are looking for a great Japanese food experience, I highly recommending finding your way to Yokozuna Japanese Restaurant. It is located at 4121 – 106 St NW, Edmonton, AB. Call 780-431-1508.

Syrahs of Jasper

IMG_3511

We selected Syrahs of Jasper because the sign outside told us it was their first year anniversary it promised dinner for two for $59. It got us in the door.

For a place named after a grape variety, I was disappointed by the wine selection. I did pick a Syrah, and although fine, I found it lost something in the cheap glass it was served in. You know the sort. The kind of wine glasses you buy at the dollar store and are so thick you could drop it from 10 stories and it would just bounce.

Things got much better with the bread served at the start of the meal. It was fresh, aromatic, warm, soft and was the perfect vessel to deliver the garlic butter.

Our appetizers had us in rapture. Michael had a delicious caramelized onion tart, and I had the elk carpaccio. Things were looking good.

Then our mains arrived. I had the very rich Sturgeon filet. It must have been the fattest fish in the school, and I hope my poor fella wasn’t picked on. I’ve never had such a fatty fish before. It was good and I definitely had enough Omega 3’s for the next six months.

Michael had the Smoked Venison Ragout, and it was a total miss. It wasn’t bad enough to send back to the kitchen, but what destroyed the dish was the strangest textured gnocchi we have ever tasted. It was pasty. It stuck to the roof of your mouth. We looked like a cat who was just given a blob of hairball medicine.

For dessert, I had a too rich double chocolate brownie. As it arrived, I said, “this is much too much…. I’ll just eat this corner”…. and 30 seconds later I’m looking at an empty plate wondering WTF just happened. Michael had the sweet pear tart, which was fair to middling.

Would we go again? Might do, because of the stellar bread and appetizers. But that gnocchi? Wouldn’t want to experience that again.

(Michael just proofed this for me and said, “You should write something about the staff, because the staff were good”. And they were. Friendly, helpful, and our waitress particularly delightful.)