Beer · Brunch · Patio · Restaurants · Seafood

Dandy Brewing Company

On Friday, I suggested to L we revisit Dandy Brewing Company. Pro tip – Dandy now takes reservations through Opentable. This new change was one reason for our visit. Dandy is one of my favourite spots in the city, but it was always too difficult to snag a table. For this post, let’s listen to “Hollywood Forever Cemetery” by Father John Misty.

I ordered a flight of beer: Dandy Lager (5%, $2.25); Une Vielle Maitresse Grisette (4%, $2.25); La Peu d’Elisa Quebec style saison (7%, $2.75); and Common Crown Collab (7%, $2.50). L asked for a glass of the Dandy Ultra Pils (3%, $6.50).

beer list

Some of my descriptions below may sound odd but then again, taste is subjective. At times, even L was at a loss for my observations. However, we both agreed that all the beers we tried were well balanced.

I enjoyed L’s Crisp Pilsner (3%, $2.50). This beer is fresh, sweet, bitter and reminded me of coleslaw. The Dandy Lager is a touch too sweet for my taste. L and I like the peppery notes in the Une Vielle Maitresse Grisette.

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I’m crazy for La Peu d’Elisa Quebec style saison. I found the saison bright and lemony with an almost perfume-like note. I ordered another sleeve because it was that delicious. Look at all that creamy foam!

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The Common Crown Collab is a full-bodied wintery beer, most appropriate for our extreme cold weather. L tried the Black Cabin Black IPA (6.5%,$5). When I took a sip, the flavour triggered memories of the 80’s cartoon Gummi Bears and A&W root beer.

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Dandy produces unique beers without tasting artificial or fake. I’m not a beer drinker, but the beers at Dandy are so enjoyable, I actually prefer their beers over wine.

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To prove my point, I ordered a glass of Leiz Eins-Zwei Riesling ($9). The riesling was dry with a bit of zip to it. While I liked what I tasted, I preferred the Quebec saison. Coming from me, that speaks volumes.

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Dandy has an equally strong food game. Whenever I eat here, I always think its similar to Bar Von Der Fels Wine Bar, but there’s less use of cream, butter and all things decadent.

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L raved about the flavours of the Elk Tartare ($18). The crispy shallots added a garlicy, crunchy contrast to the silkness of the minced elk. The use of aioli was subtle while the brightness of the pickles added a refreshing pop. This was my first time trying elk tartare. If I had to compare elk to other meats, I’d say elk is more like lamb than beef.

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The smoky smell of the Octopus ($21) was appetizing. I appreciate how the chef chose to showcase the octopus by grilling it over charcoal, resulting in a firm but not chewy texture. The tentacles were delightfully crispy. The “smashed potatoes” were like a warm potato salad. I love the addition of the olives, red onion, and what I thought was dill or pickles.

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The Cheese Plate ($17) was stellar. Though smaller and five dollars more than Cabin Brewing Company, the cheese plate was so seductive I overlooked my beer. The cracker was more like a sheet of warm, flaky pastry. I liked all the cheeses – a mix of creamy, dry, and one that tasted a bit like blue cheese. L said what made this plate next level was the cherry marmalade and figs. I’m a purist and I prefer just eating the cheeses with the cracker.

L and I are going to continue with our mission to try all of Calgary’s breweries. To date, L’s favourite Calgary craft beers are the Jack of Diamonds by Blindman Brewing and Mount Crushmore by Banded Peak. For myself, Dandy does for it for me. Hitting the Sauce puts this brewery on her list of best restaurants in the Calgary.

The Dandy Brewing Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beer · Patio · Restaurants

Two House Brewery

Numbers and Caviar invited us out to check out a new brewery by their place – Two House Brewing Company. When we entered, I felt like I wasn’t in Calgary. The brewery has a friendly, industrial vibe. The movie Heathers was projected on the wall. The music was rocking, playing tunes from bands like Blondie, The Japanese House, Assenger, Siouxsie and the Banshees.  For this post, let’s listen to, “The Passenger”.

On a Friday at 8:00 p.m., there wasn’t a single table available. Note that seats are somewhat communal. You’ll likely be sharing a table with strangers. No sweat because the clientele was welcoming and in my age bracket. We sat with a group of expats and I bonded with a customer over her Cowichan sweater.

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We ordered a flight of all five seasonal beers ($11): Prvni Pilsner, Rec Room Brown, Hoptimist, Fool’s Gold, and El Hefe. I thought the prices were good value, particularly considering Two House is located in Sunalta, an inner-city community. It was actually cheaper for me to drink here than at my own house.

beer list

The Prvni Pilsner (4.5%) was light and offered a nice aftertaste. L said it was an easy drinking beer. Whenever someone tells me a wine is ‘easy drinking’, I always want to ask for them to recommend a difficult drinking wine. The Rec Room Brown (5.5%) tasted like coffee, with nutty notes. The brown ale reminded me of Granville Island’s Christmas lager. Both L and I liked this beer, but because it was sweet we couldn’t drink a lot of it.

I enjoyed the Hoptimist (6.5%) – I found it  tasty, crisp and not overly hoppy. A very crushable beer, perfect for sipping on Two Houses’ dog-friendly patio. Bring your kids too, as the brewery is kid-friendly until 7:00 p.m. L liked the Fool’s Gold (5%). He found this beer crisp and bright. I found the carbonation a little flat.  L disagreed, as this one was one of his favourite picks of the night. The clear winner for me was the El Hef (4.5%), a spicy bubbly beer. I ended up getting two more pints of the El Hef.

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Numbers knows the owner, as he recently started working at Two House Brewing. She gave us complimentary Urban-Grub potato chips and blue cheese dip ($5). Numbers said all the food is homemade and made with top ingredients. I liked the thickness of the crunchy chips and the flavour of the potato. These were real artisanal chips and it beats Miss Vickie’s any day. The dip was cold and creamy with intense notes of blue cheese.

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The company was excellent and the venue a lot of fun. We enjoyed ourselves so much, we stayed until closing. L noticed the brewery is located right by the Sunalta LRT station. How convenient for us! I look forward to my next visit.

Two House Brewery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Comfort food · Italian · Patio · Restaurants

Tavernetta

L won another award! I told him we need to celebrate this special occasion and I knew just the restaurant he could take me to. For this post, let’s listen to “Applause” by Lady Gaga.

My fellow wine enthusiast frequents Tavernetta.  As Bottlenick and I share similar taste in wine, I was keen check it out.

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Tavernetta is situated in a bungalow style house, similar to the home I grew up in. We sat in a cozy room at the back of the house. Our section overlooks the backyard. L liked the unpretentious vibe and friendly service.

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Bottlenick mentioned the house wine was good value ($8.00, 5 ounce). L and I agree – the wine was easy drinking with a tart finish. I wish other restaurants would follow Tavernetta’s example and sell something pleasant and easy on the wallet.

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Our first dish was the Calamari v. 4 ($13). The squid was cooked well. Each ringlet was silky and tender. Pro tip – to balance the spicy heat, make sure to mix the calamari with the sweet summer squash and yam puree on the bottom of the plate. The pesto sauce and tomatoes added a zing to the flavour profile.

I asked our server what wines he would recommend with our food. He suggested Baudana Dragon (2017, $11) or the Luigi Maffini Keleos (2016, $14). I requested a glass of each. L was in for one hell of a night. He ordered a pint of Commonwealth beer ($10).

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My favourite dish of the evening was Tavernetta Meatballs ($13). I was surprised because I don’t even like meatballs as the texture is often tough and bland. Tavernetta’s meatballs were steaming hot in the center. The meat was succulent and juicy. The tomato sauce was tangy.  I would order this dish again.

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I’m not a salad person but I can get behind the Cavolo ($13). The burrata cheese was creamy and fresh, like whipped cream. L thought the combination of crisp romaine, kale and tangy tomato vin worked well together. I loved the richness of the parmesan crisps.

The Baudana Dragon wine was light and went well with the salad and spicy notes in the calamari. The Luigi Maffini Keleos was richer and paired better with the heavier pasta. If I had to pick only one wine, I would go for the Dragon.

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Our last dish was the Farroto ($11). I’m glad the dish was a smaller portion, as the cheesy sauce was rich. We both thought we could taste mushroom in the sauce. Each grain was firm and chewy. I enjoyed the addition of the sweet peas, as it gave the pasta a fresh pop.

I’m eager to return. I’m not familiar with Italian wines and I think Tavernetta is just the place to start sipping.  Thanks Bottlenick for the stellar recommendation. Tavernetta gets two fat thumbs up and it makes it on my list of favourite restaurants in Calgary.

Tavernetta Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Italian · Patio · Pizza · Restaurants

Annabelle’s Kitchen

On Friday, L received good news. To celebrate, we went out for dinner. I couldn’t get reservations to my top picks: Shokunin, Bar Von Der Fels or Carino. L suggested three restaurants. None of his options offered a wine list that appealed to me. I countered with Tavernetta, but L didn’t want to drive that far. I scrolled through Instagram and saw a photo from Annabelle’s Kitchen, a modern Italian restaurant in Marda Loop.

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L was indifferent but I was insistent. I stressed that Annabelle’s Kitchen is only five minutes away, and we could go to Village Ice Cream for dessert. For this post, let’s listen to “Compromise” by Molly Kate Kestner.

Annabelle’s Kitchen doesn’t take reservations. Another group that was initially behind me ran up ahead and got the last table. It wasn’t cold, so we opted to sit outside on the patio.

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Our server Taylor provided solid wine pairing recommendations for our meal. She recommended a white wine – ($10, Brigaldar, il Soave, Veneto Italy) to go with the Ravioli ($16). The wine was light and lively on the tongue. I preferred the wine with the pasta, rather than just own its own.

You could taste the individual ingredients in the pasta – the lemon, the smooth mildness of the ricotta and the subtle pop from the garden peas and basil pesto. I thought this dish tasted almost healthy – there wasn’t an over abundance of salt, olive oil, butter or cream.

For our Sausage Pizza ($20), Taylor recommended a red wine (Mati Barbera, Piedmont, Italy $11). L ordered a Sour Cherry from Banded Peak ($8.50).

The Italian sausage had a nice chew to it. L liked the creaminess of the goat cheese. I enjoyed the heat from the pepper flakes and chili oil. The crust was perfectly baked and it reminded me of Azzurri Pizzeria.  Crunchy on the bottom but not burnt.

For dessert, L wanted a salted caramel waffle cone from Village Ice Cream. I didn’t want any but L insisted I try some of his ice cream. He kept offering me tastes and I nibbled away until he complained that I ate half his cone. Here’s a pro tip for you. If you don’t want me to eat your ice cream, don’t ask me to.

We will be back – to Annabelle’s Kitchen for pizza and Village for ice cream. If you haven’t been to either businesses, I recommend checking them out.

Annabelle's Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Patio · Pubs · Restaurants

Southland Yard – Lobster BBQ

L and I attended Inn from the Cold’s 4th annual Lobster BBQ ($100) at Southland Yard. Inn from the Cold provides emergency shelter, affordable housing, and support services to help families in crisis retain and achieve housing-security and independence.  As she references Red Lobster in her song “Formationlet’s listen to Beyonce.

To begin the event, there was a cook off between competing chefs: Mike Frayne of Southland Bar and Table; Phil Andrews, Executive Chef of Delta Downtown; Joshua Dyer Sous Chef of Mariott Airport; and Eric Beaupre, Executive Chef of Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge. I felt like I had to wait forever to take the photo below because three of the four chefs were fidgeting and looking down. The chef on the far right was the only one good at posing.

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The three judges were Heather Morley, Executive Director of Inn from the Cold; Justin Labossiere, VP of Culinary at Vintage Group; and Daryl Kerr, Executive chef at Great Events Catering. I didn’t spend as much time taking their photo and you can tell.

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The chef’s platters were auctioned off. YYCFoodiePak and her gang tried to bid on a platter but they were outdone by the goodwill of other guests.  I noticed people shelled out more as the night went on. The first platter went for $70. The last platter sold for over $200.

Photo Credit: @YYCFoodiePak

The MC said tables would be selected to go up to the buffet. I saw that no one waited and everyone just got up. I told L I was going up too. He reluctantly followed only after the rest of my table agreed with me.

Photo Credit: @YYCFoodiePak

The buffet included rolls, Caesar salad, coleslaw, baked potato, potato salad, corn, steak and lobster. The corn was super sweet. I liked my potato – it was simple and tasty. The steak was a bit dry but who cares. We came for the lobster.

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I preferred the tail over the claw meat, as the former was sweeter. The lobster was pre-cracked, so it was easy to separate the meat from the shell. There was enough food that I saw several customers go up for a second lobster. L was a little weirded out that as the night went on and became cooler, the butter never solidified.

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I wanted to bring my leftover shells home to make lobster bisque, but even I have limits. Can you imagine how much lobster bisque you could make from the all the shells?

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Photo Credit: @YYCFoodiePak

I use to volunteer for Inn from the Cold’s Sunday evening dinner service. It’s a rewarding experience and something I’d recommend to try at least once. Want to help? You can volunteer or donate.

Southland Yard Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Burgers · Happy Hour · Patio · Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion

Klein & Harris

L won an award! To celebrate this special occasion, he took his parents and I to Klein & Harris Restaurant. For this post, let’s listen to “Whatta a Man by Salt ‘N’ Pepa.

Originally, L wanted to take his parents to Caesar’s Steakhouse. I convinced him to change the venue to Klein & Harris. He was initially worried his parents would be confused with a menu that wasn’t just meat and potatoes. Klein and Harris only uses Canadian produce, wines and spirits to create a ‘true North cuisine’.

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I first met Christina Mah – the co-owner of Klein & Harris – when she was the GM at Raw Bar. When she heard we were celebrating a special occasion, she sent over a complimentary round of prosecco with sumac and kiwi bitters. L’s teetotaler mother Loving Disapproval admired the pretty pink hue so much, she even took a sip. This is the sort of drink I adore – light, refreshing and bubbly.

mocktailWe arrived early enough to partake in happy hour drinks. L and his father Bobbino enjoyed an easy drinking beer – Philips Kolsh ($5.00). Loving Disapproval ordered a mocktail made with seasonal ingredients ($5.50). I found a new favourite white wine – Longhand Pinot Grigio 2017 ($9, HH $5). The regular price for a bottle is only $42, which is a wicked deal, particularly on Stephen Ave. The wine was pleasant, smooth and clean. I also tried a buttery, full-bodied glass of Chateau des Charmes Chardonnay 2017 Niagara on the Lake ($14.75, 7 ounce).

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For appetizers, we ordered Diver Scallops ($20), Mushroom Ravioli ($16), and Grilled Humboldt Squid ($18). For our mains, we ordered Alberta Lamb Loin ($26), Duck Breast ($26), and the Wednesday’s Coastal Feature ($25). I only ordered three appetizers and three mains because L had to leave early to prepare for the ceremony and I’m trying to eat smaller portions. If you have a regular appetite, I would highly recommend that each person order an appetizer and main.

Loving Disapproval thinks she’s allergic to peppers. As a result, the chef prepared all the dishes without peppers, and instead, put it on the side for us to enjoy. We really appreciate the extra effort, as that was a lot of  work for the chef to accommodate one guest while still allowing the rest of us to taste the dish as it was originally intended.

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The Diver scallops were cooked to perfection.  The outside was caramelized brown and the inside was silky smooth. These scallops were savoury from bacon and sweet from the apple nosh.

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The grilled Humboldt squid was overwhelmingly impressive.  Unless someone told me this was squid, I wouldn’t have known because the smooth, soft consistency was unlike any squid I have ever had.

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Loving Disapproval was enthralled with the mushroom ravioli. The filling was finely chopped, almost like a puree or a pate.  L is not a fan of mushrooms and he was impressed. The pasta itself was tender and delicate. The addition of the leeks, blistered tomatoes, greens and smoked Gouda made this dish quite substantial for an appetizer.

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The lamb loin was pink and juicy in the middle.  Like the Humboldt squid, I’ve never tasted lamb with such a succulent texture. The sauce of green tomato and rosemary relish was really tasty and a wonderful compliment to the mild flavour of the lamb.

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L enjoyed the Coastal Feature, a white fish. He said it reminded him of Scandinavian cuisine. He liked the pickled potatoes, the freshness of the flavours, and the crispness of the fish and lettuce.

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My favourite entree was the duck breast. The meat was thick, soft and satiny. I’m familiar with Chinese BBQ duck, which is more gamey, dry and has a rougher texture. At home, I’ve made duck breast twice before and it was so rubbery, I had to throw it out.

This was an eye-opening experience for me. I am astonished that scallops, squid, duck, and lamb can taste like this.  I credit executive chef James Waters’ technique and skill. Truly, he is a master with meats and seafood.

I think Klein and Harris offers some of the best value in Calgary. That’s saying a lot because I find my go to restaurants in the city are well-priced. This gem makes it on my list of favourite restaurants in Calgary. Hitting the Sauce gives Klein & Harris two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Klein & Harris Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Brunch · Chinatown · Chinese · New York · Patio · Restaurants · Special Occasion

New York – Bar 54, Ellen’s Stardust Diner and Cheong Fun Cart

Beep Beep wanted to have a drink at Bar 54. She mentioned the bar was overpriced and touristy, but she wanted to see the rooftop view of Chrysler Building and of lower Manhattan. We toasted to her birthday with an Aperol Spritzer ($26) and a Rosolio Spritz ($26). The spritzer tasted gross and reminded me of cough medicine. Pro-tip – stick to wine. We much preferred our glass of Rodney Strong Knights Valley ($19) over the cocktails. After midnight, we decided to call it a night.

We were about to enter the subway when a dirty looking man peeped through the gate and started babbling in a high-pitched baby voice: “Nooo? Yesss! Nooo? Yesss!” Before I could stop myself, I responded “Noooo.” Subway Guy looked excited and repeated “Yesss?” I sternly shook my head and said firmly “No!” Since we hadn’t entered through the gate, he assumed we were looking for another train. He said if we went up the stairs and to the left, the other train would be there. I didn’t like his eagerness and the fact he wanted to continue our ‘conversation’ so we pretended to exit. When I heard him take off, we returned to wait for our train. There was another guy there who there who half-heartedly muttered, “Noooo? Yesss!” We ignored him. For this post, let’s listen to Trouble by Pink.

A minute before our train arrived, Subway Guy came back and told his friend he couldn’t find us. I pulled my large black hood over my head. Beep Beep whispered, “Your disguise sucks. You are not fooling anyone.” She was right because Subway Guy spotted me and said something that is so obscene, I will not repeat it. I’ve already said too much. My father reads my blog. Knowing Ludwig, he will tell on me to my mother. I know I’m going to get a flurry of emails from Boss Lady telling me to quit creating drama and getting into trouble. Sorry ma, old habits die hard.

On the way home, Beep Beep really had to pee. She ran ahead and then would stop, crouch down with her knees pressed together and bellow “Nooo?” Then she turned around to face me and coo, “Yesss!” I doubled over with laughter and couldn’t breathe or walk until she stopped mimicking the Subway Guy. Omigod, we are so immature.

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The next morning, Beep Beep woke me up at 6:30 a.m. so we would to make it to Ellen’s Stardust Diner by 7:00 a.m. Ellen’s is known for its singing wait staff. Beep Beep ordered the Smoked Salmon Plate ($20). The cook forgot to put the cream cheese on the bagel. Our server was absent so she ate her bagel without any cream cheese.

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I wasn’t feeling well, so I ordered a ginger ale and a Fresh Fruit Cup ($9). I found the assortment of cantaloupe, honeydew, grapes and pineapple incredibly fresh and sweet. Beep Beep took a bite and said it was normal fruit, I was just hung over. I ordered a latte ($6.50) that tasted like it come out of a vending machine from the 90s. Beep Beep said I should have just drank her latte, because she didn’t like it either.

I enjoyed the confetti that fluttered down from the ceiling. Some of the wait staff differed in charisma, but I enjoyed listening to them sing. A staffer came come out and gave a long story about how hard the staff worked to both sing and bring your food, so donations for their singing classes would be appreciated. The suggested additional tip was $20 bucks.

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Before we left for the airport, we stopped by Union Square Farmer’s Market, Little Italy and Chinatown. Beep Beep wanted us to try the Cheong Fun Cart. After using Google maps, I found it. Beep Beep asked a waiting customer if this was the famous Cheong Fun Cart. I knew the lady Beep Beep asked had no clue. I looked up the cart on Yelp to confirm the pictures of the cart and location. The lady said no, we needed to go to a cart that was ten minutes away. I told Beep Beep this was the right cart and showed her the matching pictures I found.

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Beep Beep freaked out because there was only a small slit through the metal cart where the vendor’s face would pop out to ask you what you wanted. The elderly woman working there was tiny, and it looked like there was enough room for her and her husband. I requested two small cheong funs ($1.50), one with pork and the other with chicken and an egg (50 cents). I added green onions and requested no cilantro.

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Oh my goodness. If you are into the texture and subtle flavours of Chinese dim sum, you’ll love these silky pools of noodles. The noodles are made fresh for you, and it was everything I was craving. Steaming hot, soft with little specks of meat and sauce to give it the right amount of savoury, salty flavour. Next time I’d omit the egg as I found texture of the yolk too dry. I would also add hot sauce. Since Beep Beep and I were sharing, I didn’t add any.

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Cheong Fun Cart was one of our favourite eats in New York. When Beep Beep complained again about the work conditions, I informed her that the woman working in the cart was the owner, so it was her decision. If she wanted to unionize, she could. Besides, after only three days in the Big Apple, I too would want to be enclosed in a metal container to protect me from being spat on, hustled or spoken to in an indecent manner.

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Before we left for the airport, Beep Beep found me a Trader’s Joe store so I could stock up Everything But the Bagel seasoning and Mushroom & Company Multi-Purpose Umami Seasoning Blend . Happy 40th birthday Beep Beep! I had an amazing time with you.

Ellen's Stardust Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Happy Hour · Patio · Restaurants

Wine Bar Kensington – Baller Wine List

I’ve been to Wine Bar Kensington multiple of times – for my own stag, girls’ night, Sunday half price wine night, and impromptu meetings.  It’s a beloved bar for locals, particularly those who live in the hood. Which is why I’m surprised to see this is my first post for Wine Bar.

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On Monday, Wine Bar celebrated its 10th anniversary with DJ Jon Yumol, magnum wines and a half price baller wine list. I thought that was funny because a true baller can afford to pay full price, so by buying a half price bottle, I’m just a wanna be baller.

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That’s okay with me, because I’m perfectly secure in knowing I’m a small potato.  For this post, let’s listen to Puff Daddy – It’s all about the benjamins. Oh god, I can’t believe how bad the lyrics are:

Now, what y’all wanna do?
Wanna be ballers, shot callers, brawlers
Who be dippin’ in the Benz with the spoilers
On the low from the Jake in the Taurus
Tryin’ to get my hands on some Grants like Horace
Yeah, livin’ the raw deal
Three course meals: spaghetti, fettuccine, and veal
But still, everything’s real in the field

I would argue that spaghetti, fettuccine, and veal are not a three-course meal. A three-course meal consists of three parts served one after the other. What Puff Daddy is rapping about is having three mains as one meal.

Our server Tess offered excellent recommendations. Outside of Bar Von Der Fels, she’s the only other person in Calgary that can nail down what type of wine I like. I learned from Bar von der Fels that I like full-bodied wines. That’s what I told Tess I liked.

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The first and my favourite baller wine of night was Ehret Cabernet Sauvignon ($110, half price $55). Smooth, gentle weight on the tongue, and just enjoyable wine to sip away. Excellent.

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L did all the food ordering because I had a stomach ache and I wasn’t planning on eating. Of course he ordered the Meat + Cheese platter – the chef’s selection of five ($42). I tried the 12-month aged prosciutto and the flavour was fantastic. I couldn’t taste the white, fatty part of the meat like I do some prosciutto.

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The second wine we tried was Farina – Amarone della Valpolicella ($105, half price $52.50) This was L’s favourite wine. Tessa said it if we liked the first wine, we would enjoy this one even though it was different. Lighter than first bottle, silky and I thought it had a nice balance of acidity.

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The Spinach, Goats Feta and Beet Salad ($17) was well-seasoned. The dressing was sweet and tart. I really liked the addition of the olives and nuts.

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I ate most of the Coconut Curried Lentil Dip ($16.75) because L and Bottlenick thought it was too spicy. I can handle my spice so I loved this dish. The flatbread was warm and crisp but still soft inside. Scrumptious.

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The brussel sprouts was a standout dish. I was getting quite tipsy at this point and I stopped taking notes. I just know that anything that taste that good isn’t healthy for you. Best sprouts in the city. I was really impressed with the food.

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I spotted my old neighbour – I’ll call him Wine Wizard. It turns out Bottlenick went to one of Wine Wizard’s events. At this event, Bottlenick picked up three bottles of Il Rosso Degugnano Dei Barbi and gave me a bottle to try. I should have known that Bottlenick bought this from Wine Wizard. The Wine Wizard is super serious with his wines. He wears a special pair of glasses to better analyze his bottles. I tried on his glasses that night and it did enhance my ability to think more deeply about what I was drinking.

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I asked Wine Wizard what he would drink. He pointed at what he was drinking that night – a $200 dollar bottle. The small potato in me came out and I balked at him. He then pointed to another bottle – Sor Ugo Superiore Cab Sauv/Merlot/Franc ($110, half price $55). That’s better.

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I had to put my thinking cap on because Wine Wizard took back his glasses. I liked his pick but I couldn’t describe what I was tasting. I think it was beyond my vocabulary.

I had a lot of fun at Wine Bar’s anniversary party. It was a treat to try some truly delicious wines at a price that’s more akin to my lifestyle. Thanks for the enjoyable company L, Bottlenick and Wine Wizard.

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

Bars/Lounges · Patio · Restaurants

Earls on Stephen Ave

Soup received a $150 gift certificate to Earls. She and her partner Ottawa invited me, L, Soccer Mom, and McCartney out for drinks and food. In light of recent news, let’s listen to “Regulate” by Warren G and Nate Dogg.

Our table was next to the patio. We got the best of both words – a view of Stephen Ave, fresh air and spacious, comfortable seating. I preferred to sit inside, as I feel that people who sit on patios on Stephen Ave get stared at by passersby.

I won’t drink house wine. I can’t do it. Two weeks ago in Kyoto, I ordered a bottle of house wine. It was so nasty that I couldn’t choke it down. Last week, I was at Bank and Baron and my colleagues were drinking happy hour house wine. I went against my better judgment and had a glass too. It was vile. At Earls, I ordered a 9 ounce glass of Quails Gate Pinot Noir ($20.25). I thought it was full-bodied and juicy for a pinot. Delicious. I’d come back to Earls just for a nice glass of wine.

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Ottawa requested input from us and ordered for the table: Calamari ($14.25), Pan Wings ($13.75), Warm Spinach Dip ($13.75), Green Dragon Roll ($13.25), Garlic Fries ($6), Street Chicken Tacos ($11.75), and Yam Fries ($7.50). She tried to order the Hawaiian Coconut Prawns but the restaurant was out.

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I was surprised I liked the chicken taco so much, because I don’t normally enjoy tacos. The flour tortilla was crisp and held up to the saucy mixture of tender, slow roasted chicken, cilantro, salsa and cabbage. The taste of cilantro was subtle. The combination tasted fresh yet decadent, most likely due to the jalapeño crema and white cheddar. I thought it was odd that Earls named these ‘street tacos’ because street tacos are simple and pretty basic.

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yam fries
I liked the yam fries more than the garlic fries. I don’t normally like yam fries because I find the flavour taste fake. Earls make a batch that taste like it’s actually a yam and the fries were fat and crispy, just the way I like them.
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One of my favourite items was the Pan Wings. These aren’t on the menu but our server told us it’s her favourite because they are twice baked and spicy. The sauce was tangy and the skin was crisp. There was a lot of white meat on them bones. The celery was fresh too, sweet and crunchy.

dip

17th Ave · Beer · Happy Hour · Patio · Restaurants · Seafood

Las Canarias Spanish Paella and Tapas Bar

I’ve been meaning to try Las Canarias ever since I saw Gwendolyn Richard’s Instagram post (March 15, 2017). I knew it would take 40 minutes for the paella to cook, so I called the restaurant 20 minutes before we arrived to get the dish started. For this post, let’s listen to Siempre Me Quedara by Bebe.

Las Carnarias has a patio that’s conducive to my memories of eating in Barcelona and Madrid with Beep Beep. Sharing pitchers of sangria under the hot blue sky followed by small dishes of calamari, paella and garlic shrimp. I ordered a glass of sangria ($12) and L ordered a pint of lager ($7). His beer came in a tall frosted glass. My drink came in a huge goblet. The sangria was floral and fruity. If you don’t like sweet drinks, stick to the wine or beer.

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To start, we shared the Calamari ($15). The ringlets were large and tender. The exterior texture was dry and crumbly. Unlike some restaurants, this calamari wasn’t all batter. I quite liked flavour of the lemon aioli. I would order this dish again.

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We ordered the Mixta Paella ($36) – which contained seafood, chicken and beef. The paella arrived in a big, black cast iron pan filled with langostinos, clams, mussels and shrimp. I couldn’t detect the beef or chicken but I could really taste the shellfish and fish flecked throughout the rice. Other options for paella include: daily fish special; black rice with calamari and langostinos; chicken and chorizo; rabbit, chicken, fish and seafood; and a spinach, mushroom and chickpea version.

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I was impressed that none of the seafood was overcooked. The rice was firm and flavourful. I particuarly liked the tangy bits of tomatoes on the baked top layer of the rice. The mussels were plump and bursting with juice. I enjoyed the process of breaking into the long shell of the langostinos to get to the meat.

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J-Thug asked me how Las Carnarias compared to Ox and Angela. I get the sense he’s quite fond of the latter restaurant. Las Carnarias isn’t fancy but it’s not trying to be. The dishes here taste like they were made from a traditional recipe that has remained unchanged over the years. I thought the food was different and refreshing from the norm in Calgary. Don’t get me wrong. I like fusion restaurants and trendy ingredients, but sometimes I just want old world cuisine.

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I recommend you check out Las Carnarias for their daily specials. Happy hour is from Monday to Friday (3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.). Local craft beer is $5.50, highballs are $4.00 and all food menu items are 15% off. On Sunday, all paella and sangria is 20% off. On Monday and Tuesday, bottles of wine are half off. Steamed mussels are $10.00 and coconut shrimp is $8.00. On Wednesday, beer is on special and the calamari is only $11.00. On Thursday, you can get a three-course dinner and sangria for two people for $70.00.

Las Canarias Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato