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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo credit: @lovegastrogirl

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

French · Restaurants · Seafood · Vancouver/Richmond

Vancouver – Cafe Salade De Fruits

L and I finished shopping in South Granville. Before spending the afternoon at Granville Island, I suggested we have lunch at one of my old haunts – Café Salade De Fruits. I’ve been dining here since it first opened, back in the early 2000s. For this post, let’s listen to Les Champs Elysees by Chantal Chamberland.

Located inside a French school, the atmosphere is cozy and quaint. The music is soothing yet energetic. The French speaking staff are professional and warm.  The day I visited, I recognized one of the original chefs and owners – Antoine Bonard – in the kitchen.

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We sat on the patio. I wanted a light lunch, so we shared a regular order of Moules Frites ($19). I ordered a glass of La Vielille Ferme ($10.50) while L predictably ordered a sleeve of beer ($10).

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The fries were cut thin and short, with a crackling of salty goodness. I encouraged L to fork his fries and let it saturate in the broth. Friggin delicious. The fries remained crispy despite its creamy bath.

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The temperature of the broth was steaming hot and remained so throughout our meal. The broth was rich and fragrant with what I thought could be wine, cream, butter, shallots and lemon.

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The baguette was just as excellent as the mussels and broth. The crust was crisp yet chewy. The bread tasted clean, with soft, springy tissues.  I loved how beautifully the bread soaked up all the flavours in the broth. Our server saw that we finished all our bread and without any prompting, dropped off another serving.

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Despite how hot the broth was, each mussel remained soft and sweet until the very end. It’s hard to find a restaurant that can cook mussels properly. Too often, I find mussels are like rubbery bullets. You won’t find that here. This isn’t Salade de Fruits first rodeo.

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The regular order was like a magical never ending pot of mussels. We were stuffed. L raved our seafood lunch at Cafe Salade de Fruits. I’m pleased that some things don’t change. I hope this cafe is around as long as I keep coming.

Cafe Salade de Fruits Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Brunch · French · New York · Restaurants

New York – Buvette

Beep Beep wanted to check out Buvette because it was a Michelin recommended restaurant. We stopped by for a glass of wine and found the bistro so charming, we went again the following morning for her birthday breakfast. We arrived when the restaurant opened at 7:00 a.m.  so we could make it in time for the Wendy Williams show. For this post, let’s listen to the show’s theme song. 

Everything inside the bistro was adorable. I like the Parisian décor and the tiny seats and chairs. The narrow wooden stairs and brick walls added to the room’s vintage vibe.

Beep Beep ordered a latte ($6.5) and I requested an Americano ($4). I don’t normally like lattes but Beep Beep’s beverage was excellent. The foam was thick and creamy. The coffee was strong with just the right amount of milk to take the bitterness out of it.

We ordered Saumon Fume ($16) and the daily Omelette ($16). The steamed eggs in the salmon dish was smooth and custard-like. The salmon wasn’t like the frozen stuff I’m used to eating in Canada. The fish was thicker, fresher and tasted more sashimi-like. I loved the addition of the crème fraiche and the sourness of the pickled caper berries. I’d order this again.

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The omelette was fluffy and moist. Simplicity at its best – I didn’t know eggs could taste this good. The generous layer of chevre was light and melted in my mouth.

Beep Beep and I got out of Buvette and in line for Wendy’s show by 7:55 a.m. As it was her actual birthday, Beep Beep was given a tiara to wear on the show. However, since she had already brought a tiara and it was far nicer, she gave it away. Beep Beep also brought a pink feather and rhinestone crown for me to wear.

I’ve never even seen an episode of Wendy so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Instead of doing her usual Q&A routine, Wendy announced that she was living in a sober house. I was shocked – as was the crew when they stopped filming. Beep Beep spoke to Wendy after the show and gave her words of support. Wendy nodded and asked if it was also my birthday, since I was wearing a tiara. Nope, I’m just a victim of Beep Beep’s love for you.

I told Beep Beep afterwards that I was surprised she didn’t try to shake Wendy’s hand or give her a hug. She told me that she knows better – Wendy is known for slapping fans away when they try to hug her or touch her microphone. Watch the video below for illustration.

Congratulations Beep Beep, that’s one off your bucket list. Next – to Café China – a one star Michelin restaurant. Whoot whoot!

Buvette Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Brunch · Burgers · Comfort food · French · Happy Hour · Restaurants

Brasserie Kensington – Big Taste 2018

Asian Persuasion, Ay Caramba, Office Dad, Lam Jam and I had the most delicious lunch at Brasserie Kensington. For this post, let’s listen to a song I listen to rev me up for work – Bitch Better Have My Money by Rihanna.

We tumbled into a packed restaurant. We were seated near the window, which affords a street view of Kensington.

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The Big Taste of Calgary menu offers a stellar deal. For only $18 we had the choice of an appetizer, main and dessert:

Peasant Duck Broth Soup or Green Bean and Lentil Salad

Brasserie Grilled Gruyere & Raclette Cheese & Vegetable Sandwich, Brasserie Beef Bourguignon with Toasted Baguette, or Crispy Chicken Sandwich with Collard Green Coleslaw

Baked Alaska with Italian Meringue & House Made Coffee Ice Cream, Chocolate Waffles with White Chocolate Sauce & Confit Apple or Coconut Creme Brûlée.

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We all ordered the duck soup. Ay Caramba and I picked beef bourguignon for our mains. Office Dad, Asian Persuasion, and Office Dad ordered the chicken sandwich. Lam Jam asked for the raclette cheese and vegetable sandwich. When the chicken sandwich came to the table, our mouths dropped. This is what I imagine patrons are like at a strip club. I was drooling. That sandwich was just busting out with chicken. Lam Jam received the chicken sandwich instead of his racelette sandwich, but he remained quiet because after he saw the chicken sandwich, he also wanted a piece of that.

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I watched my coworkers as they bit into their sandwich, moaning with ecstasy as the juices dripped down onto their plate. I have to admit, I got food envy. That is, until I tried my own entree.

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Ay Caramba and I were over the moon with our beef bourguignon. That dark gravy sauce was incredible. The potato wedges were baked and then layered on top of the stew. The carrots were bright orange, the potatoes a mellow yellow. I asked Annika if she could pack my stew for me, as I didn’t want to overeat. It was a good thing I’m so fond of this stew. On the way back from work, I spilled the sauce in my work bag.

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The desserts were phenomenal. The exterior of the baked Alaskan was warm and rich. The homemade coffee ice cream was cool and creamy. The layer of cake on the bottom tasted so good I ate every crumb.

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Ay Caramba picked a coconut brulee. Office Dad picked the chocolate waffles. Usually in a group, you have that one person that poo poos everything. In this group, it’s usually  Office Dad. Everyone was happy. A Christmas miracle in March.

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Brasserie Kensington makes it on Hitting the Sauce’s list of best restaurants in Calgary. I want to return for happy hour and dinner. If you can still manage to wrangle a reservation for Big Taste, do it.

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Brasserie Kensington Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

17th Ave · Brunch · French

Parc Brasserie – Big Taste

My friend Jaime and I wanted to catch up. She told me to pick the restaurant. I chose Parc Brasserie for the Big Taste lunch. However, when we arrived, we were informed that the Big Taste lunch feature was for weekdays only.

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I ordered a Kir Royale ($9) while Jaime stuck to green tea ($4). I will say I prefer the Kir Royale at Cassis, as this version was flat and didn’t have that bright fruit flavour. Sparking water ($2 per person) was kept flowing throughout our lunch by our server Maya.

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Maya told us her favourite thing on the menu was the Vegetarian Eggs Benny. She eats out a lot and the eggs benny at Parc is in her opinion, the best in the city. I agree with her, this dish is a winner.

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The eggs were puffed out and shaped like fluffy white clouds. The yellow of the perfectly cooked medium yolks reminded me of hot molten gold. Okay, I’m being  silly, but the food here is worth the flowery compliments. The portobello mushrooms were meaty and luxurious, the spinach tasted fresh and green. The hollandaise sauce was rich and flavourful, so good that I swirled the delicious pan fried potatoes and sweet caramelized onions in the buttery sauce. The English muffin was fluffy and not puck-like. Excellent flavours, quality ingredients, perfectly cooked food and presentation was very nice.

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Brunch here is relaxing and leisurely. Maya let us stay and linger, always refiling our waters and never rushing us out. My husband hates going out for brunch, but I think Parc’s pace and food will win him over. If you are tired of the no reservation, long line-up brunch hot spots in the city, give Parc a chance.

View my food journey on Zomato!

Parc Brasserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Brunch · Burgers · French · Happy Hour · Seafood

Cam Dobranski – Chef Demigod

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Mark Bata of Bonvida Wines partners up with wineries and restaurants to host some amazing dinner parties. I don’t alway get his email invites (tsk tsk Bata), but luckily I did get the invite for the Trust Cellars dinner at Brassiere Kensington ($100 including taxes and gratuities). This was an awesome price considering the caliber of the food and wine.

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You might be wondering why there is a rose on my menu. Actually, you probably don’t care but I thought that this was a good way to introduce this story.  I arrived early so I went to the Starbucks across the street for a coffee. A man came inside, clearly down on his luck, tried to sell roses to get enough money for bus fare.  I saw my former MLA Christine Cusanelli  having coffee and she chatted with him and gave him money. She didn’t want the rose, but he insisted. She asked him a few more friendly questions and wished him a good evening. When I went over to say hi and to wish her the best, she thanked me and gave me the rose. Cusanelli might not like flowers but this Christine does!

Diet plan

On to the food and wine. My buddy Chen was in town for work and I convinced him to join me. My two neighbours Québécoise and Mr. Sirski were also in attendance. I also sat with two other gentleman, Athens and Parthenon. Without any prompting, Athens lectured me on how to speed up my metabolism and lose weight. I should note that I never told him I wanted to shed a love handle or two, and thus the advice was unsolicited. However, he was fun, so I went along with it and I took notes (at his request).

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Speck Wrapped Atlantic Scallops – Picture stolen from @The_BrassKens, 2016.

The first dish was one of my favourite of the night. Speck wrapped Atlantic Scallops w/ pickled yellow foot chanterelles paired with Trust Cellars Columbia Valley Reisling (2014). The scallop was large and sweet. The texture was heavenly – silky and sashimi-like. I could have eaten a dozen of these scallops. Better than I can get back home in Vancouver.

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Orange Glazed Brome Lake Duck Breast – Picture stolen from @The_BrassKens, 2016.

On to the second course, a very generous portion of Orange Glazed Brome Lake Duck Breast w/ star anise puy lentils & rutabaga hash paired with Trust Cellars Walla Walla  Syrah (2013).The duck was tender and juicy, with a sweet glaze.

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Mushroom Ravioli – Picture stolen from @The_BrassKens, 2016.

The third course was Mushroom Ravioli with crispy sage & walnut cream, paired with a 2011 Cabernet Franc. This was so delicious, I could have eaten these all night long. Holy smokes. Creamy covered pasta with a earthy mushroom filing. The crunch of the walnuts and the fragrance from the fried sage made this dish stand out.

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Alberta Wagyu Beef Skirt Steak – Picture stolen from @The_BrassKens, 2016.

The fourth course was the Alberta Beef, roast carrots, cipollini onion, hollandaise brûlée, paired with a Cabernet  Sauvignon  2011.  Everyone at our table loved this dish, particularly the Trust Cellars owner and winemaker, Steve Brooks, who I quoted, went “mental”. The onions were sweet, the cream sauce was killer, and the beef was tender with just the right amount of salt. Check out the fourth course in the making below.

The final course was a selection of blackberry, lemon, strawberry macarons. Crunchy, chewy and not too sweet. The perfect ending to a superb meal.

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Brasserie Macaroons – Yep. Stole this one off @The_BrassKens too.

After this meal, I asked myself why I don’t come at Brasserie Kensington more often. I think it’s because so many of my drinking buddies are vegetarians. I’ll just have to get my husband to accompany me, as I hear Brasserie makes a wicked brunch.

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Thanks to Mark Bata, Steve Brooks, Chef Cam D, and the rest of the chefs and servers at Brasserie Kensington. Also, thanks to Athens for your diet tips. Perhaps when I plan to lose weight, I’ll give your plan a try 😉

View my food journey on Zomato!

Brasserie Kensington Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato