17th Ave · Bakery · Dessert · French · Mexican · Restaurants

Con Mi Taco, Black Sheep, and Wow Bakery – COVID-19 edition

Right before The City of Calgary declared a State of Local Emergency​, my friend Lovegastrogirl visited me for wine and snacks. Before she left, I sent her home with saffron lime pistachios from Ayoub’s Dried Fruits and Nuts, a bottle of my favourite wine that I discovered at Bar Von Der Fels, and a moisturizer she admired. For this post, let’s listen to “It’s Tricky” by Run DMC.

Lovegastrogirl surprised me last Friday night with a Beef Birria Taco Kit ($38) from Con Mi Taco and pastries. I’ve been wanting to try the birria ever since FoodKarma’s posted her hubby’s photos on Instagram.

Screen Shot 2020-04-26 at 7.38.43 AM
Photo credit: @therealbuntcake

Our kit included a 2/3 pound of 18 hour chili braised beef chuck, ten freshly ground hand-pressed corn tortillas, lime wedges, onion garnish, mozzarella cheese, cilantro garnish, salsa morita, vegan jalapeño aioli and birria broth.

Screen Shot 2020-04-26 at 7.38.53 AM
Photo credit: @therealbuntcake

The beef chuck was tender and saturated in flavour. We found the beef and broth so rich, that instead of dipping the whole taco into the broth, L and I just drizzled the sauce on the very top. The combination of the broth and sauces created a smoky, spicy profile. I’m really into Con Mi Tacos sauces – it’s more complex and creamy than what I’ve sampled in my trips to Mexico.

Screen Shot 2020-04-26 at 7.39.24 AM
Photo credit: @therealbuntcake

I prefer the beef birria taco over al pastor because I like heavier, richer tasting meats. L stated while he enjoyed the birria, his all time favourite is al pastor.

guac

The Guacamole and Chips ($10) was a hit too. The dip was cool and creamy, with just the right amount of salt to make the flavour of the lime and avocado pop. I liked that we received so much dip, we ran out of chips before we finished the guacamole. Usually it’s the other way around because avocados are expensive.

nood pull

I took FoodKarma’s advice and used the leftover broth for Mexican ramen. The broth must be potent because it made a beefy bowl of noodles. Con Mi Tacos should consider selling their broth to customers to use at home. I would buy it.

bleubrrery

Lovegastrogirl also brought us pastries from Black Sheep and Wow Bakery. L and I shared the Blueberry Croissant ($4) and the Pan au Chocolat ($3.75). I was impressed with the flaky crisp shell and the big air bubbles inside the pastry.

half blueberry

The house made blueberry jam is delectable. I’d order this again and I don’t normally order pastries with fruit filling. I would buy this jam if Black Sheep ever bottles it up for sale.

crossiant

The pain au chocolate contained two sticks French Valrhona chocolate. Such a simple combination but when high quality chocolate and pastry is used, it’s a perfect pairing.

half chocolate

Black Sheep offers contactless delivery and pick up at their store. The stop is open every day except for Tuesday, from 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

almond

Lovegastrogirl also bought us pastries from Wow Bakery. I knew beforehand that she was a fan of Wow Bakery because she bought a cake for the No Man’s Dinner at Moon Korean BBQ. Wow Bakery is piloting a free delivery system with no tip for orders $25 or more until June 15th.

onion

We tried a French baguette ($2.99), Sweet Almond Bread ($3.80), and an Onion Cheese Bread ($4.50). L crushed the almond bread. The onion cheese bread reminded me of my homemade pizzas. My favourite of the bunch was the French baguette from Black Sheep, which I used to make a sandwich the next day.

sandwich

L said if we were in prison, Lovegastrogirl’s generous gifts would make us her prison bitches. I agree. I’m no one’s bitch. Next Thursday is my turn to treat her. But how am I going to top her?

Screen Shot 2020-04-26 at 8.47.02 AM
Photo credit: @lovegastrogirl

I’m not a competitive person, except when it comes to hosting parties. Since I can’t host anymore, I’m going to bring the party to Lovegastrogirl. I’ve been scouring her Instagram profile to get clues on what would appeal to her.

Screen Shot 2020-04-26 at 8.46.10 AM
Photo credit: @lovegastrogirl

As you can see from her posts, she’s a complex person. She has an affinity for finer things in life, like views from expensive tourist spots, over ordering at fancy restaurants, and consuming grossly overpriced cocktails. But she also has a soft spot for fast food, Cluck N Cleaver, and dazzling sweaters.

Screen Shot 2020-04-26 at 11.18.17 AM
Photo credit: @lovegastrogirl

If you have any suggestions on what to get her, send me a message. I have until Thursday to come up with a plan. Thanks again Lovegastrogirl, you really know how to spoil a friend.

Screen Shot 2020-04-26 at 11.22.36 AM
Photo credit: @lovegastrogirl

Wow Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bakery · Beer · Restaurants

Sweet Relief

Last Friday I attended a Yelp Elite party. The event was called ‘Local Love’ because it was a partnership between Freehold Brewing Co. Sweet Relief, Dandy Brewery, Ol’ Beautiful and Outside the Shape.

outside

After browsing through the pretty merchandise at Outside the Shape, L and I walked upstairs to meet Matt, the one of the owners of Freehold Brewing Co. Matt showcased four beers and paired each beverage with treats from Sweet Relief, a bakery located in Victoria Park.

beers.jpg

The first beer was Big Chutes Lager. The lager was easy drinking, clean, with a hint of citrus. Matt referred to Big Chutes as a ‘patio crusher’ because you could easily spend an afternoon on a patio crushing this beer. I can see why. I found this lager refreshing and light. I liked the tiny bubbles foaming at the top. L said there was a lot of taste in the lager.

first beer

Next we sampled Pegasus Pale Ale from Ol’ Beautiful Brewery. The ale was paired with a square that reminded me of a homemade Oh Henry chocolate bar. I enjoyed the buttery crust and the taste of the dry roasted unsalted peanuts, which contrasted with the sweet stickiness of the caramel.

miranda cookies.jpg

I could taste a bit of grapefruit and grassy floral hops in the Pegasus ale. I don’t normally like hoppy beers, but I found this ale easy to drink. I could crush this one on a patio too.

second beer.jpg

The third beer we sampled was Lacy Saisy Saison. I could taste warm hints of cloves, ginger and orange. L and I have a hard time finding a beer that we both equally love. I think Matt did the unimaginable. He created a beer that both hard core and casual beer drinkers could enjoy. I think Matt may have saved our marriage. No more fights at the liquor store. L said this was the first saison he liked.

slide

Matt informed us that farmhouse ales or saisons as we know them, date back a long time ago in Belgium. Farmers would brew the beer, bury it in soil and then open it up in the summer for the weary workers as the water was undrinkable. Don’t quote me on that because I accidentally deleted my notes from the evening on my phone and I’m going by memory.

third beer.jpg

The dessert pairing for the saison was a jam cookie. Two sugar cookies were pressed against a sticky, flavour packed jam. The cookie was chewy and soft, buttery and sweet. I plan to buy some of these jam cookies and the dessert bar for a future party. These treats are much better than I can bake at home.

cookies.jpg

The fourth beer was Dandy in the Underworld Stout. I liked this beer. Bubbly and dark with rich coffee and chocolate notes. Matt said oyster shells are used in the process for  calcium carbonate. I wanted to ask Matt more questions about the stout and saison but other Yelpers kept dominating the conversation and having side chats so I couldn’t hear what he was saying. I was sitting at the front right across from him too.

brownie.jpg

I hope Freehold Brewing Co. finds a new space for their brewery and restaurant. In the meantime, you can find Freehold beers at Nash, Notable, Craft, Beer Revolution, Bar von Fels and all the Nationals. Stores that sell Freehold include: Coop, Domestic Bottle, Kensington Wine Market, Highlander (Marda Loop), Liquor Depot (Killarney/Marda Loop) Vine Arts and Willow Park.

table.jpg

Thanks to Miranda R for inviting me and allowing me to use her photos. If you want to get invited to future Yelp Elite events, sign up and start writing reviews. From there you ask a friend (me) to nominate you.

Sweet Relief Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato.

Bakery · Restaurants

YYC Hot Chocolate Festival

I was contacted by the event coordinator from Calgary Meals on Wheels. Every year they organize the YYC Hot Chocolate Fest, a friendly competition that invites local businesses to compete for the title of Calgary’s Best Hot Chocolate and Calgary’s Best Spirited Hot Chocolate. For this post, let’s listen to Vianne Sets up Shop.

I gave my vouchers to Pak to Eating and asked her to be my official hot chocolate taster. Below is a picture of Pak to Eating and her reviews.

michelle

Bean Stop YYC

Pak liked the complex flavours of this drink. She thought the ginger and lemon compliment each other nicely as it balanced out the cabernet and dark chocolate flavours. The sprinkles were a pretty touch.

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 7.00.02 PM.png

Café Rosso  – Orange Blossom

Pak gave points for presentation – the whipped cream, dried orange slice,  orange zest and cookie bar. Pak thought the cocoa had a light orange flavor with a pretty strong floral taste. She found the consistency of the drink to be watery. It was not sweet, chocolately or heavy. She thought the cookie was yummy.

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 7.00.10 PM.png

Monki Bistro – Matcha Hot Chocolate

Pak liked the richness and frothiness of this drink. The large, toasted marshmallows added a crisp top layer and as it melted, blended in with the rest of the drink.

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 6.59.46 PM.png

Caffe Artigiano – Naval Orange Hot Chocolate

Pak liked how this drink was so smooth and frothy. The proportion of chocolate to orange was perfect – neither the chocolate or orange flavouring overpowered each other. This hot cocoa tasted just like a chocolate orange.

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 6.59.39 PM

Cococo Chocolatiers Earl of Grey of Sunshine (Bankers Hall location)

This was Pak’s favourite hot cocoa. She thought the hot chocolate was rich and creamy with a perfect balance of Earl Grey and ginger. It was not too sweet and the delicious piece of ginger chocolate elevated the experience.

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 6.59.55 PM

Thanks Calgary Meals on Wheels for the vouchers and for making Calgary a better place.

The Bean Stop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bakery · Restaurants · Vietnamese

The Bake Chef Co

I visited the U of C recently to see my optometrist. It’s weird to go back to my old university. I forgot how slowly students walk, unhurried and without any gumption. For this post, let’s listen to something that puts more pep into my step.

When I studied and worked at the U, I would frequent Noodle and Grill Express, Opa and The Bake Chef. The Bake Chef was my go to spot for hot dog buns and Vietnamese subs. For around $5.00 I would get a vegetarian sub that was way tastier than Subway. I remembered how light and crusty the bread was, slathered with butter and other sauces, heavy with carrots, cucumbers and shredded lettuce. I had a hankering for a sub so I stopped by after my appointment.

The selection of subs have expanded. Before you could choose between sate beef, sate chicken, and vegetarian subs. Now you can get tuna, pizza, traditional cold cut combo and some other types too. I ordered the cold cut combo. The price was $7+.

Screen Shot 2017-12-29 at 9.56.45 AM

I thought the sub was doughy and yeasty. The vegetables were tired and sparse. There was only one layer of meat. My cold cut combo lacked the flavour explosion I get at my new go to sub spots – Trung Nguyen and Thi Thi – in Chinatown. Trung Nguyen and Thi Thi charge $5.50 for their assorted sub.

Screen Shot 2017-12-29 at 9.28.39 AM.png

I posted my disappointment on my Instagram account. As you can see, several people defended Bake Chef. Lol – I love the love that the Bake Chef gets from its fans. Based on the comments, I must have gone on an off day. That or perhaps my taste buds have changed over time. I’ll  suspend judgement until I get another chance to try it again.

The Bake Chef Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bakery · Brunch · Dessert · Restaurants

Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe

My last day in Vancouver. Naomi chose Thierry so we could enjoy our breakfast in the sun. We managed to get a table by the front of the business. There was a Chow Chow dog tied up near our table. Tourists walking by assumed it was my dog (because the breed is originally from China?) and after petting it, told me my dog was a cutie. I just nodded and accepted their compliments as graciously as I could.

I love Thierry for their pastries. Naomi ordered a pain au chocolat ($3.95), a pear danish ($2.95), croissant au jambon, two americanos ($2.75) and a cappuccino ($3.25).

I love Naomi. She is one of my closest friends and her alpha female traits have served her well in life. However, when someone argues with her, she goes full on mortal combat. There was a mix-up at the counter when Naomi ordered all her pastries and at one point I was worried she’d bring out her nunchucks. Thankfully, all it took was her receipt as proof to clear up the confusion.

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 3.24.42 PM.png

I ordered a cappuccino and a ham and cheese croissant ($4.99). I think the sweets, like the cakes and danishes are the best items to try at Thierry. My croissant was flaky and the cheese tasted like it was gruyère. The ham was thickly sliced, folded over and it tasted like it was good quality. My cappuccino was alright. The foam was nice and light, but I prefer my espresso to be stronger and heavier on the creama and less milky. I think Mercato in Calgary makes the best cappuccino.

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 3.24.34 PM.png

If you’re in the hood, I would make this a destination for dessert and an after dinner drink. There’s also gorgeous macarons, chocolates and treats you can purchase which make for great gifts.

Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

17th Ave · Bakery · Cheap Eats · Restaurants

A Taste of Beirut Bakery

On Sunday, L and I were running errands all day. We wanted to grab something quick for lunch and we heard that new managers have taken over Green Cilantro. We both had a craving for a Vietnamese sub, but unfortunately, Green Cilantro isn’t open on Sundays.

Menu.jpg

I haven’t had a good shawarma in ages, so we checked out A Taste of Beirut. While I was deciding what to order, an employee gave me a chicken fatayer to sample. This little meat pocket of heaven was delicious. It’s like a meat pie crossed with a pizza bundle.

chicken fatyr.jpg

I ordered a regular chicken ($8) and a beef ($8) wrap. The condiments were the standard variety of lettuce, pickled beets, raw chopped onions, juicy tomatoes, pickles and hot peppers. Two different sauces were squirted on both wraps.

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 7.05.19 PM.png

The chicken and beef wrap contained ample meat. I preferred the chicken which was moist and juicy. The pita is grilled, which made a satisfying chomping sound when I munched away.

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 7.05.00 PM.png

The beef was nuked in the microwave. I could detect cinnamon in the seasoning. Normally I like beef more than chicken, but I found the beef dry. L liked the beef more than the chicken.

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 7.04.45 PM.png

We were full after eating a regular size wrap. If you live in the hood, give A Taste of Beirut a chance. Personally, I like this place more Little Lebanon, a popular shawarma spot across the street.  I would return again for the chicken wrap and the chicken fatayers.

A Taste of Beirut Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bakery · Restaurants

Glamorgan Bakery

I always buy my cakes at Glamorgan Bakery. It’s close to my house and the cakes are reasonably priced. For example, I bought a 10″inch round cake and embossed a picture for about $55.00. In addition, I also made a cake for my mother-in-law’s 70th birthday party, so the 10″inch size from Glamorgan was perfect for 25 people. My sister-in-law said the number seven candle looked like a one. It looked like a seven to me. And if you can’t read the writing on the cake and put two and two together, I feel sorry for you.

unnamed

I chose the chocolate filling, chocolate cake and the butter cream frosting. For an extra charge, you can get Black Forest and other more exciting flavours. What I really like about the cakes is that isn’t too sweet. It taste like the cakes I had when I was a kid, spongy layers that taste fresh and homemade. Nothing too fancy. Plus, I’m always impressed with the screening job Glamorgan does with the photos.

If you’re in the hood, pick up some cheese buns, old-fashion sugar cookies, Florentines and scones. I hope Glamorgan stays around for a long time. This is one gem I want to return to over and over again.

View my food journey on Zomato!

Glamorgan Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bakery · Vancouver/Richmond

Vancouver – Beaucoup Bakery

I don’t know how my friends in Vancouver stay so slim. Whenever I go back, there are so many great places to eat. Sushi, Indian, Chinese and a whole whack of sweet places like Bon Ton, Chocolate Arts, Ganache, and my new favourite, Beaucoup Bakery.

This tiny bakery is busy. Despite the steady line-up, staff were friendly and welcoming. There are a handful of tables and chairs for you to sit and enjoy an espresso drink and of course, eat one of their famous croissants.

Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 4.05.59 PM.png

My buddy Jaime insisted I try a croissant. I opted for a petite pain au chocolat. The chocolate was dark and intense. The actual pastry was incredibly flaky. I’ve never had a croissant in which there seem to be endless layers.

Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 4.05.51 PM.png

Jaime ordered a regular croissant, which looked massive. However, when you bite into the pastry, you see that it’s mostly air. When I’m back in Vancouver in October and I plan to bring my husband to this gem.

Beaucoup Bakery & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

View my food journey on Zomato!

Bakery · Brunch · Sandwiches

Canmore and Banff Day Trip

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 1.24.25 PM.png

My colleague EA Supreme took me out to Banff and Canmore for an afternoon retreat. She picked me up at the parking lot of a McDonald’s in Bowness, and off we rode off in her big red truck. The ride up was scenic, lots of green fields and a view of the looming mountains.

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 1.25.04 PM.png

Our first stop was at her favourite breakfast spot, The Summit. According to EA Supreme, this cafe is always busy, filled with hikers fueling up for the day. The food is simple and homey, something my father would make for us when we were kids. EA Supreme ordered the breakfast bagel ($6) and I ordered the breakfast sandwich ($7.50). The egg was flat, the orange yolk still warm and gooey. The piece of lettuce, tomato, cheese and bacon was also thinly sliced.

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 1.24.54 PM.png

Before we left for Banff, we stopped next door to Fergie’s, a convenience store with homemade baked goods. EA Supreme told me the owner is French. At the front by the cashier, you can buy freshly made doughnuts, cinnamon buns and the best, hugest apple fritter. I could not stop eating this over sized treat ($2.99 or 2/$5.00). The exterior was crunchy, greasy and drenched in a sweet glaze. The interior was soft but not doughy. Just thinking of it makes my mouth water.

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 1.25.22 PM.png

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 1.25.50 PM.png

Once in Banff, we went up to the gondola ($42) on Sulfur Mountain. I was initially reluctant to go along as it was foggy. However, the staff informed us that there was an inversion, so once we made it past the dense layer of fog, the view was spectacular. When we arrived at the top, we spent an hour walking on the hiking paths and soaked in the sights.

Gondal

 

ea and me

EA sumpreme

When we came down, we walked over to dip into the sulfur hot springs ($7.00). Most people were with their significant other. Both our husbands dislike this sort of day trip. EA Supreme and I joked this was a romantic trip so far. I asked her if she wanted to hold hands but she declined the offer.Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 1.25.38 PM.png

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 1.25.30 PM.png

From the hot springs, we walked past the Banff Springs Hotel into the touristy downtown core. After I spent too much money on workout gear, EA Supreme and I checked out Bow Falls for a few photos.

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 1.26.25 PM.png

On the way home, we stopped by my favourite poutinerie, La Belle Patate. We shared a large deluxe poutine ($15) which came with sautéed mushrooms, grilled onions, smoked meat, cheese curds, gravy and fries. The toppings were enormous, piled high on our foil takeaway container. I was so full, that I didn’t eat dinner that night. The dish is salty, which makes sense given the ingredients. I prefer the traditional poutine, as the fries stay crisper. Next time I’m in, I think I’ll share a small classic poutine with a side of extra curds.

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 1.26.16 PM

Thanks EA Supreme for taking me on such a delightful day trip. It’s a shame I don’t get out more often to enjoy Alberta’s unique and beautiful landscape. Next, I want to visit Jasper and Drumheller.

 

View my food journey on Zomato!

La Belle Patate Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato